7S26, Acrylic crystal, Diver's Watches, DIY, Modified watches, New, Seiko
Two more SKX007 recreations now follow, both of which based on new but empty cases as the starting point and therefore not technically modified watches but new builds. I thought I’d present the build process in parallel and then look at the results separately at the end.
To start then, we have one 7S26-7020 case (left), sourced new from Singapore with a chapter ring and case back but nothing else. The one on the right is essentially the same case but with a slightly different case number (7S26-0020), sourced from a watch materials house, complete with bezel, crystal, crown but no movement, dial or hands. Here are the pair together, both with chapter rings in place but with click springs missing for reasons which will become apparent as we proceed:
I thought I’d take fundamentally different approaches with each watch so in deciding on the crystals, I opted to try a domed acrylic for one and a double-domed sapphire for the other:
The main issue involved in fitting acrylic crystals to SKX cases is to find the correct balance between crystal diameter at the base and the diameter at top of the dome. The base diameter obviously needs to be large enough to seat snugly into the aperture in the case but this is typically only achieved with these cases with crystals whose upper dome diameter is too large to clear the bezel aperture. Unfortunately this means you cannot avoid having to use a nylon crystal gasket which usually would only be appropriate for glass or sapphire crystals. In my case, I found that a 31.6 mm crystal pressed into a fresh nylon gasket resulted in a very tight fit with no discernible play at all. Satisfied that I’ve done the best I can with that one, the other one follows convention, if not originality, with a new sapphire pressed into a gently warmed fresh nylon gasket
Now for the bezels. On the left we are going for a coin edge bezel from Murphy Engineering in the USA and on the right, a pilot bezel from the same source. The coin edge bezel is designed to rotate freely with no clicks, with a snug fit ensured by a lubricated rubber gasket. The pilot bezel fits in the same way but this one is a tighter fit and does not rotate in situ.
At this point we can really see how different these two watches are going to end up looking. With the rotating bezel, we need, of course, an insert and this one receives a nicely executed machined steel insert with white paint filled numbers from Hong Kong. The diameter is a little too small and so a little bit of gapping results on one side but nothing objectionable:
Now, we need to think about movements. For the watch on the left, I bought a new 7S36 movement from Holland, a development of the 7S26 with a couple of extra jewels, and some minor refinements in construction. I had decided with this one to fit a date-only dial and so removed the day ring and day corrector wheel. With the other watch, I used a spare 7S26 I’d bought a while back and substituted the black on white day ring with a white on black for a bit of contrast:
Next up, the dials. To the left, a date-only Omega Seamaster style with fraudulent references to tritium markers, and on the right an original SKX007 dial:
All that remains is to fit the hands, refit the movements to the cases, regulate, grease the gaskets and reflect:
Three more of the SM-dialed watch, first on rubber
and then on a steel oyster bracelet
and three more of the pilot watch, this time starting with two on the bracelet
and two on the wrist on a Hirsch caoutchouc strap
Those do look superb! Both very stylish and beautifully executed. Can’t decide which one I like best but am leaning towards the SM dialed one. I like that you’ve used a tropic styled acrylic. Perfect.
Can you tell me something about the hands that you’ve used on both watches.
Thank you. I am quite pleased with these too. The yellow hands are from the SKZ211 and the chrome hands from the SKX209.
All the best
That Pilot watch looks superb. Do you do these as commissions, or for your own pleasure? I would be really interested in acquiring one like that. Great work.
Thanks for the nice comment. I do these as the fancy strikes, purely for my own pleasure and education. Most of the time these sorts of projects are one-off’s and I move on to something else, but this is the second pilot SKX I’ve done, and while the first I sold a while back, I am finding myself liking and wearing this one quite a lot.
So funny so see this. Your last mod inspired me and this came out, which actually looks a lot like your current mod:
Well, the bezel is very well done and I’m sure there are a fair few variations on this particular theme out there. I’m also not surprised that others are using these hands – I think they are terrific and certainly add a certain pizzazz!
What type of crystal gasket did you use with your Sternkreuz HH 31.6 mm crystal? That is a great, great watch you put together! I’m hoping to follow in your footsteps.
As I recall, I think I just used the correct Seiko gasket for 7S26-0020 which has the part number 8660 0630. Last time I looked, Cousins in the UK had stock.
Can you comment on the source for 7s26-0020 cases?
I think one came from chronograph.com in Singapore and the other from a watch materials house in the US.
Ian Larsen said:
I’ve been admiring the watch on the left for months and have decided to try to recreate it. I have the movement, case, and bracelet. I should be able to find most of the other items easily. Could you tell me, though, where you sourced the seamaster-style tritium dial and the bezel insert? Those parts really make the watch!
Both dial and bezel insert were sourced from Yobokies, a well-known supplier of third party Seiko parts based in Hong Kong. He has no formal website but does have a Photobucket account which shows much of what he has available. You then just email him and he will quote for whatever you are interested in. I should add that the dial is not really tritium, in spite of the presence of the circle T!
Ian Larsen said:
Thanks so much! I’ve just sent Yobokies an email. Hopefully he still has these dials available!
Ian Larsen said:
I received the Yobokies dial and have installed it. It looks great!
However, I’ve had no luck finding the SKZ211 yellow hands. Chronograph.com used to carry them, but they’re out of stock. Do you know of a source that might still have them in stock?
Also, is there any reason you went for an acrylic crystal on that watch rather than sapphire? I’ve found a source for the acrylic crystal you used, but I’d like to find an identical sapphire version. Might you have a source for that?
Again, many thanks.
You could try Monsterwatches.eu for the hands – that is where I sourced at least one set. As for the acrylic, well I was doing two watches at once and wanted to have a go at fitting an acrylic to one. Just experimenting really. No real rhyme or reason to it. Oh, and the sapphire crystal was Yobokies too.
Hi, which watch materials house in the USA did you buy the 7S26-0020 from?
Jules Borel but they had to back order and it took a while. Probably not the most economical route to putting one of these together.
Tim Lee said:
like your page alot.
Could you help me where I can get a SM-dialed model? either rubber or oyster band. ?
These watches were one-off custom builds, both now with new owners. I am sure there will be SKX mods out there with the SM dial but maybe the best course of action would be to find someone to build a modified watch to your specification.
What is the seiko part number for the yellow skx007 second hand you are rocking on your second watch???
Justin, it’s been a couple of years at least since I sourced the hand and all I can recall at the moment is that it was supplied by Rob at Monsterwatches in the Netherlands. However, a quick Google for ‘Seiko yellow meatball second’ suggests that the SNZJ15J1 is the model from which mine may have been sourced. Hope that helps.
I’ve been searching for weeks but couldn’t find it. Thanks so much! Your blog is awesome
I just want to thank you for figuring out which acrylic dome fits the SKX and sharing that info. I just did a 62Mas mod and found your blog and used the same crystal and it came out amazing. Thanks for sharing your watch fettling
No problem. Glad to have been of some help!
Great mods there. You mention gently warming the crystal gasket before fitting the sapphire. I have not heard of this before. Does it aid fitting and how did you warm it please?
Warming the gasket just makes it a bit more pliable and eases the way for the crystal. It is all too easy to damage nylon gaskets if the crystal is not sat properly when you start to press it in. I will have used a hair dryer.
That makes sense. I hadn’t thought of doing that. Thanks. Have just stumbled across your blog so setting time aside to read. Excellent stuff. Best wishes.
I’m pleased to hear you are finding it useful. Thanks for the feedback!