Thanks to Hodinkee and Top Gear, you might have heard of former Morgan Motor Company Designer Turned Bespoke Watchmaker Matthew Humphries. Working with Penelope Jordan, this entry-level watch modder starts with a Seiko base and then adds specially designed dials with an aesthetic reminiscent of car dashboard readouts. The thing is, I have no issues with Seiko as a foundation but I have issues with his price points – north of $700.
While the costs of producing a unique dial with automotive details would add significantly to the prices of a Matthew Humphries Design timepiece, you’d get more bang for buck getting the Sinn and MKII inspired variations from Seiko Mod Master Yobokies (Seiko Boy backwards). Ordering a completely modified watch from Harold “Yobokies” Ng will cost you $300 while buying the components – dials, hands, chapter rings and bezels individually from Dagaz Watches would cost you $70 including shipping.
The problem is that Matthew Humphries’s collection of printed dials doesn’t provide any value for the premium you’re paying. Had he developed applied indices for his dials and perhaps alternative finishing/polishing on his chapter rings, he could justify the prices demanded beyond the obligatory – “British wages are higher” argument. The truth is, truly kick ass polished applied indices are lacking on the usual Seiko dial mods and MHD can go the distance by producing some.
Build Any Watch You Want with Seiko 5
The point of using a generic Seiko 5 or SKX base is that the its general proportions and crown position tend to lend itself well to dive or pilot watch homages like Omega Planet Oceans, Rolex Subs and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. If you’re looking for something more unique, little details like a great set of hour, minute and second hands and a cool dial can really alter the perception of the humble Seiko.
A Tudor Black Bay Homage is significantly easier to build than a Tudor Pelagos by virtue of the latter’s integrated chapter ring/index cut outs. Naturally, thanks to Tudor’s resurgence, the Black Bay Homage is one of the most popular mods after the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms.
Though this is an Orient-656 mod (Orient is essentially a “rebadged” Seiko), this 42 mm timepiece with screw-down crown replicates the look and feel of a Sinn pilot. The 656 style dial and hands can be bought separately and applied to a standard Seiko 5. Here in black PVD case and paired with leather pilot’s band, the watch gives a decidedly luxurious feel.
Riding on a wave of nostalgia, even Omega wowed invitees to Baselworld 2014 with a heritage re-issue of the first Seamaster 300. With a little gumption and imagination, building a vintage Omega Seamaster 300 is not outside the realm of possibility, especially if this is a piece you’d like to wear as a real beater while the original stays safely in your safe till affairs which require more polish and bling.