Top 5 Seiko Watches to Mod
Want to get into Seiko watch modding, but can’t decide which of Seiko’s many dive watches to choose as a base watch? This isn’t an easy decision to make, especially for newcomers to the watch modding scene. Seiko has a huge selection of dive watches available, and sometimes it’s hard to decide which one to pick. Yes, it’s a first world problem.
Above: Some of Seiko's dive watches - you shouldn't be modding these ones, though! (Source: The Modest Man)
While examining all the most commonly modded Seiko watches, one thing we’ve observed is that people usually gravitate towards the cult classic Seiko designs, such as the SKX007 or the Turtle.
Alternatively, some might choose a watch model that has a clean, generic design, and also has an affordable price tag. Such watches make a fantastic platform for a variety of different styles of builds.
In this post, let’s take a quick look at what we personally feel are the 5 Top Seiko watches that you should be considering before you embark on your watch modding adventure. After considering a whole bunch of models, we've settled on our top 5 watches that are commonly modded, and that have robust aftermarket support and options.
Here, we look at some of the most popular watches that are used in watch modding.
This is perhaps the most modified watch in the watch modding community, and for very good reason. The iconic dive watch from Seiko ticks a lot of boxes, and it’s arguably one of the best value automatic dive watches out there.
It is powered by Seiko’s bulletproof 7S26 movement, like most of the other watches on this list, and it boasts a very reassuring water resistance of 200m.
Above: A Submariner-styled SKX007 mod, with a SKX171 dial. Very nice stuff! (Source: /u/landingshortly on Reddit)
Size-wise, the SKX007 wears really comfortably on the wrist despite its somewhat above-average size. This is in large part due to its short lugs, with a modest lug-to-lug measurement of 46mm.
If you want something that pops a little bit more than the monochromatic SKX007, you might want to look at the SKX009, which is essentially the exact same watch in a different colorway. The SKX009 has a Pepsi (red and blue) bezel insert, with a dark blue dial.
Unfortunately, the Seiko SKX007 has been discontinued, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to pick one up at a reasonable price.
The good news is, if you're a fan of the SKX007 form factor and would like to build one from scratch - we sell SKX007 cases in a variety of designs, including the classic SKX007 styling. You might also want to refer to our article that contains a checklist of all the items you need to build a fully modded watch.
The Seiko SNK is the smallest timepiece on our list, having a case diameter of
37mm and a 43mm lug-to-lug length. It's also not a dive watch, or even a dive-style watch (like the Sea Urchin).
The SNK809 is styled like a field watch, which is a style that mainstream consumers will be able to more easily appreciate. Coupled with its smaller size, this means it will look good on people with a smaller wrist size. Also, having a case thickness of a mere 11mm, it’s also possible to fit this under the sleeve of a dress shirt. It's no wonder that this is one of the most ubiquitous Seiko 5s on the market.
Above: Beautiful SNK809 mod. Just a dial and hand swap, and it's a brand new watch. (Source: Craig Morey on Medium)
Unfortunately, one of the downsides of the SNK is that it’s a little too common. Due to its clean design and affordable price tag, the SNK is an oft-recommended entry level Seiko that many will have in their watch collection.
On the bright side, it's really easy to give your SNK a distinct look and separate it from the rest of the vanilla Seiko 5s out there. The SNK809 has lots of mod part options for one to choose from.
A dial swap, for example, brings a whole new look to the watch, and is a popular modification to do in general. You can check out our collection of dials here. If you're planning on swapping out your dial, you might also want to look into choosing a set of hands that complement the new dial as well. This ensures that the watch build has a cohesive, balanced appearance.
At first glance, you might not even realize that you’re not looking at the
SKX007. The SKX013 really is a doppelganger of its big brother, in many respects. There’s the signature 4 o’clock crown, plus a similar looking set of dial and hands, and an almost identical aluminum bezel insert.
Above: An SKX013 pilot mod (left) next to its bigger brother, the SKX007 (right) (Source: namokiMODS)
However, on closer inspection you’ll realise that the major difference is its size. The SKX013 has a smaller case that measures 38mm across and 13mm top to bottom. This makes it a full 5mm smaller in diameter than the SKX007. You might not notice this in product photos, but it's immediately obvious when you handle the SKX013 in person that this is diminutive counterpart to its bigger brother, the SKX007
The Seiko SKX013 might be your best bet if you are looking for high quality, affordable dive watch that’s perfect for smaller wrists. Although it’s currently not as popular as the SKX007, it does seem like there’s been a push for smaller watches in recent times. Perhaps we’ll see a surge of popularity for smaller dive watches like the SKX013 over the next few years.
The SKX013, like the SKX007, has strong aftermarket support. You can shop some of our SKX013 modification parts here.
The Seiko Turtle is a relatively large watch, coming in at 44mm. However, don’t be thrown off by its specs. The square-ish, ‘cushion-case’ design of the Turtle, and its short, chunky lugs make it suitable for all but the smallest of wrists. Whilst many large dive-watches have a tendency to feel top-heavy and unbalanced, the Turtle feels extremely natural on the wrist, and wears incredibly comfortably too.
Above: Dual Time Steel Turtle mod. The cushion case styling may not be for everybody, but we think it looks fantastic. (Source: @namokiMODS on Instagram)
The Seiko Turtle's many variants incorporate the 4R36 movement, a hacking and hand-winding upgrade to the basic 7S26 movement, which is the movement found in most of Seiko’s more affordable offerings, including ALL the other options mentioned in this list.
As far as Seiko movements go, it’s still on the entry-level portion of the spectrum. However, it performs quite exceptionally for an entry-level automatic watch. Both 7S26 and 4R36 movements provide incredible value, but having the ability to stop the second’s hand (also known as hacking) while setting the time is a must have for anyone who's trying to track time accurately. It's a subtle detail that makes the Seiko Turtle feel more like a premium automatic watch.
If you want a watch that has a decent movement out of the box, and you enjoy the Turtle’s unique shape and appearance, then look no further. We also have a selection of mod parts for the Seiko Turtle if you decide that this is the model for you!
The SNZF17 Seiko 5 Sea Urchin is a sporty and stylish timepiece that delivers great value for money. It is robust, durable, and timeless in design.
A key reason why the Sea Urchin is so popular is because of its size. It comes in at a very reasonable 41mm case diameter. This case size is the sweet spot for most people - it won’t make the watch appear bulky on your wrist, and it won't look too small either. The Seiko Sea Urchin is honestly one of the most balanced and perfectly sized Seiko 5s.
On top of its size, the classic dive watch styling of the Seiko Sea Urchin also makes this a popular platform for Submariner or Black Bay style watch builds.
The SNZF17 Seiko 5 is a great watch in its own right and definitely one of the best Seiko sports watches given its price range. You can check out some of our Sea Urchin mod parts here.
Choosing what watch to mod really boils down to what look you want to achieve. So, it's best to work backwards. Decide on kind of watch build you'd like to end up with, and then work backwards to see which model is the best fit for your purpose.
When it comes to dive watches, the SKX007 is a great choice due to its popularity and the countless compatible mod parts to choose from. If we're going to make a recommendation based on the level of aftermarket support, it'll definitely have to be the SKX007/009, hands down.
For other options, the only potential downsides would be their relatively limited choices of mod parts, compared to the SKX007. However, with the community constantly growing, and suppliers upping their game, this may change in the future. The mod part choices for non-SKX007 models are growing as the market opens up.
We hope that this article was helpful! Do check out our store for Seiko modification parts. We sell parts for all the models mentioned above, such as the Seiko SKX007, SKX013, the Turtle, and the Sea Urchin. If you have questions and need help, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy modding, modfam!