How to build your own watch

At SEITIES watches we have always had a passion for watches. The designs, the style, the luxury. It is this passion that lead us into making our own watches. Hopefully after reading this article we may inspire more people into making their own watches.

Without getting to far into the technical side of watchmaking, most people who have some ability to use tools and can construct simple objects such as toys, models and even furniture, we believe can build a their very own watch. Basically, we liken it to putting together Meccano.

How to build a watch – the basic parts.

At the centre of the watch there is the movement. The next piece is the face. Then the hands. Next the case, Finally the band. These five pieces when all fitted together go to make a watch.

Building a watch – the movement.

As identified, this is the heart of the watch. There are several options to choose from here, either Quartz [battery] or Mechanical [automatic or hand wind]. Quartz movements can provide a cheaper option to mechanical movements. Starting from around $5 [AUD] you can purchase a solid Japanese or Swiss quartz movement. It is important for your first attempt to keep it simple. Look for a basic movement preferably with less functions. A simple two hand quartz movement is a great starting option. If you do choose a quartz movement be aware that any dust or contamination can cause issued with the movement.

With mechanical movements we recommend starting with the ETA 6497/98. These are a robust hand wind Swiss movement. If you chose an original ETA version the price is around $250 [AUD]. However, you can buy Chinese cloned versions. The Chinese versions you can buy for around $40 [AUD] Although more expensive these movements are easier to work with due to their stronger build.

Building a watch – the face.

Once you have chosen your movement. The next step is to choose a face that fits the movement as well as the case you are going to use. There are countless face designs to choose from. These vary from diver style, pilot style, minimalist, pearlescent and so on. The design of face is completely open to the style of watch you are building.

After choosing the style fitting the face to the movement can be achieved in two ways. Firstly, many faces have dial feet. These are small pins that stick out of the back of the dial and fit into holes in the front of the movement. You need to check the specifications of the movement and dial to make sure these fit. However, if they don’t there is a simple solution, Dial Dots. These are two sided sticky dots that stick the face to the movement. When using dial dots, it is extremely important to line up the crown with the appropriate place on the dial.

Building a watch – the hands

After fitting the face to the movement, the next step is placing the hands onto the movement barrel. As with the face it is important to check the size of hands you need. This includes both the hole size to fit the movement barrel, but also the length. You don’t want your hands to be too long that they hit the case or too short they don’t fit the dial display.

Like the face there are countless hand designs to choose from. The hands are fitted to the movement by pushing them onto the movement barrel. There are two basic tools to do this. The simplest is the hand-held pen pusher. The next is the hand press. With either tool firstly place the hole of the hand over the barrel and then push it down onto the barrel. When pushing the hands into place the easiest way to make sure they line up is to place them both at 12 when fitting. To make sure the hands have been fitted correctly wind them an number of times to make sure they do not touch the face or catch each other.


How to build a watch – the case.

Once the face and hands are on the movement, it’s time to fit the movement into the case. To do this the crown stem needs to be removed. Most quartz movements have a push release that needs to be pressed to allow the stem to be released. The crown stem in an ETA 6497/98 movement is released by unwinding the crown release screw. The screw needs to be turned in small increments until the stem is released. The stem can then be removed. Once the stems are out of the movements, they can be can be placed into the case. Once in the case the stem can be reinserted into the movement and the back of the case can be secured.

How to build a watch – the band.

Spring bars hold most watch bands in place. These go through the band on each end and then into small placement holes in the lugs of the watch. To fit the band simply push the spring bar through the band. The place one end of the spring bar into the placement hole in the lug. Then either with one of your nails or case back knife push the other end of the spring bar in to allow it to fit between the lugs. Once the spring bar is between the lugs move it so the second end fits into the second placement hole.

The above is a very simplistic description of how to build a watch. It is however, how we started, so why not give it a go.