Developing a watch from the ground up is a daunting task, and certainly not for everyone. It takes up a lot of time and budget in order to produce a mechanical watch from scratch. Even when you outsource specific components, or perhaps even the entire production, it’s not an easy thing to do right. And admittedly, most of us will never go down this proverbial rabbit hole. But undoubtedly a lot of you might have fantasized about having a stab at building a watch for yourself! That’s now somewhat made possible by DIY Watch Club, a company that offers complete kits to assemble your own watch. And I’ve just finished building my very own GMT Diver!
DIY watch Club in a nutshell
DIY Watch Club’s concept is quite simple. What the company aims to do is to offer accessible, uncomplicated watchmaking kits that allow you to assemble your own mechanical watch from the comfort of your home. DIY Watch Club has been doing so for a number of years and over time has put together a collection of kits ranging from field watches to dress watches and pilots watches and everything in between. Each kit can be ordered in a number of styles, with options like a steel or bronze case, various different dials, bezels and inserts (for the divers obviously), straps and more. In terms of movements, it comes down to mechanical movements by Miyota or Seiko, depending on the specific watch you want to build.
So as you can tell, it goes a step beyond simply modding an existing watch, something practised by many people the world over, often using Seiko watches as a starting point. The DIY Watch Club kits come with all parts needed to build the watch, but also with clear and detailed digital instructions and all the tools needed for the assembly. I thought I’d give it a go, and tell you more about my experience right here and now. And not to take away any of the magic of the actual assembly, I will not take you through every single step but rather encourage you to go out and build one on your own!
The DIY Watch club GMT DIVER
I quickly knew what I wanted to build, but the final combination of all elements took a little longer. And, as some of you might have seen on our Instagram page, I thought about asking you on the final look of the watch. With the choice for the GMT Diver locked in, there are still plenty of options to choose from. A simple stainless steel case, a black PVD-coated one, or even bronze, you can go either way. I opted for the steel version, to begin with, but with multiple straps and bezel inserts to see how they would look in real life.
The fun starts with the unboxing of the entire kit. Presented in a complete box of components, tools and other necessary items, it looks very nicely done! After logging into the DIY Watch Club website, you can start the build of your very own watch. One piece of advice before you start, though; eliminate all possible distractions. So, send out the wife and kids for shopping or something and make sure they don’t come back for a couple of hours! Second, make sure to work at a table that’s as clean and dust-free as can be. Speaking from personal experience, at any stage until you close up the case you run the risk of dust or hair inside your watch.
Fortunately, or unfortunately to some perhaps, the movement requires no assembly whatsoever. You do have to be very careful with it though, as it can be easily damaged in the process. Especially with this GMT Diver and its movement having four hands in total, it takes time and concentration to get it right. The detailed instructions will talk you through everything you need to know and do, and include videos and detailed images where needed. These sometimes show you how to check if a component is installed right, or how not to do things, to make your life a bit easier.
My final build ended up being a stainless steel GMT Diver of 41mm in diameter with a black sandwich dial, a domed sapphire crystal, two-tone “Coke” ceramic bezel insert and a black rubber strap. This configuration was voted on by some of you, through our Instagram Stories. The movement used is the NH34 GMT by Seiko, a reliable and easy-to-service movement that comes with a central hand for a second time zone. Down below, you can find out more details about my specific build, but with all the available options you can make it look just like you want it.
So, would I recommend this to anyone? Absolutely! Even though it might not be a high-end Swiss Made mechanical watch, it is all about the experience. Unboxing the entire kit, going through the instructions and the first few steps, the buzz you get when you correctly install a hand, that kind of thing. And with prices ranging between EUR 190,95 and EUR 533,95 for a single kit (the GMT Diver kit starts at EUR 355,95), you really can’t complain! You get a good quality set of tools, detailed instructions, quality components and in the end, the priceless satisfaction of having built your own watch!
For more information, please visit DIYWatch.club