Many watch enthusiasts are also capable tinkerers. In some circles, watch modding of Seikos and Vostoks has become a near-competitive sport. However, there are other enthusiasts–new to the world of automatic watches (or, like me, simply less adventurous)–who view tinkering with their expensive timepieces as a bit daunting. The first time I opened the caseback of a Swiss diver, in order to replace a loose date window, I realized almost two minutes into removing the crown stem that I had forgotten to breathe. If you resemble this remark, perhaps this review is for you.
To begin, the DIY Watch Club Diver Series Kit strikes me as a good value proposition. If you price out the various components required for building a watch from scratch, add in the shipping and duty, and then consider all of the tools you will need to carry out the operation, $350USD begins to look pretty good. And I have also seen these kits go on sale recently for as much as 30% off. The added benefit for an inexperienced modder/builder is that nothing gets left out.
WHAT DO YOU GET?
The DWC-D01A comes with a sturdy stainless steel case with a mix of horizontal brushing and a polished bevel along the lugs. It measures 41mm in diameter. The bezel is also stainless steel with a knurled edge and a gun-metal blue aluminium insert. The lug width is 22mm. Its dial is a slightly darker grey-blue hue and uses painted indices. The polished hands, along with the markers, are coated with C3 Super LumiNova. This model has a screwed down crown, and crown protectors, providing 200 meters of water resistance.
Like many microbrands, DIY uses a mix of Miyota and Seiko movements. The D01A is powered by the NH35. Also included in the kit is a blue parachute strap with signed clasp.
In addition to the watch components, you receive a watchmaking kit in a handy carrying case. It has everything you need to complete the project, including such items as a caseback opening tool, a loupe, a bezel removing knife, a dust tool, a hand setting kit, and tweezers. The only item not included–and that you might need should you wish to pursue modding–is a crystal press. For this reason, the crystal on the D01A comes preinstalled before shipping.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
22mm Lug Width
200m Water Resistance
Knurled, Thin Profile Bezel
/w Aluminium Insert
Hacking and Hand-winding
41-Hour Power Reserve
|Crystal & Dial||Flat Mineral Crystal|
C3 Super LumiNova on Indices and Hands
|Strap||Blue Parachute Strap|
The model series sent to me for review is the most basic of the diver kits available at DIY. For a bit more money you can easily upgrade to sapphire, or double-domed sapphire crystals. The D02 Series also offers a fumed dial and applied indices. In addition, the diver series is largely compatible with the the Seiko SKX line of watches and the newer SRPD (or 5KX) models. Bezels, bezel inserts, hands, and dials, can easily be modded down the road from any number of Seiko part purveyors. So, if you have been bitten by the modding bug, options abound. You can check the DIY website for more specific details on part compatibility.
The Diver Series from DIY offers a relatively generic case and look. It is vaguely reminiscent of the Tudor Black Bay with echoes of the Seamaster 300M in its chamfered lugs. These are not bad things. Both are iconic dive watches. However, some might wish to have something different from the norm when constructing their own dive watch.
It should be noted that the tools offered in the DIY Watch kit, while sufficient to the task at hand, are also for beginners.
I had a great time putting this kit together. The instructional video series provided is simple and easy to follow. As an educator, I was very impressed. I was done in under two hours. Other than installing the hands–and more particularly, the second hand–I found the process calming and thoroughly enjoyable. DIY includes two sets of watch hands, in the full knowledge that builders might mess up the first time. Although, in the end, I did not have any issues, it was comforting to know that they were there.
The end product is a solid dress diver with a slightly vintage look that I am proud to wear. I find the parachute strap to be soft and comfortable, but I’ve already had the watch on a leather NATO and I think it looks fantastic. I can only imagine what it will look like on a rubber tropic or a waffle strap.
After having completed the build, I feel much more confident about the idea of modding and general watch repair. I also like the fact that I can continue modding this watch in the future, should I choose. Its compatibility with the Seiko SKX means that I can switch out the dial, purchase new hands, swap the insert, or choose an entirely new bezel altogether. And if I want I a domed sapphire crystal, I can just order one from DIY. The options are endless.
In truth, I have a Vostok on the way. Watch out world.
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