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Black Bay Homage Mod - A Walkthrough

36683 Views 43 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  jzoo
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I'm pleased to have recently completed my Black Bay mod. It took some time, about two months, from waiting for the availability of rose gold hands to working on the case and just finding time. I'm only lukewarm about Invictas (owing to the garish designs of some of their watches), but had decided to use the Invicta 8926OB as the base watch because of the Seiko-licensed NH35A hackable movement inside. The bezel makes it look different from the usual Seiko BB mod, and I much prefer the angled bezel, vs. the flat one of the SKX or SNZ Seiko series dive watches.

Since I took photos and notes during my amateur's mod process, I thought I'd share them, in case anyone else is tempted to do the same.

This is how the watch started out. The bracelet it came with is a bit flimsy--a throw-away pretty much--and I promptly removed it.

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Then the removal of the movement.


Then the removal of the bezel and insert. Update: some have asked about the bezel removal, saying that the bezel is immovable on this watch. It took me at least a few attempts over 15-20 min using a case knife and a pocket knife to slowly wedge in and pry while i tugged the bezel up with my fingers and a fingernail. One must be patient and not use excessive force.

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This is the tricky part: cyclops removal.

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Basically, I tried heating the cyclops area with a lighter and was exposing it to the flame for no more than 3-5 seconds at a time. Wiped away the soot and gave it a push with my finger nails and, at times, a case knife (very carefully), and if it didn't work, retried. I did that more than a few times, and the cyclops still held steady. This flame fusion crystal was not kidding around.

My next tactic was to use a naphtha cleaning solution. I got out a small glass dish and put a small wood chip with about the same depth as the cyclops in it. And then I balanced the watch on the chip and very slowly added the naphtha. The wood chip was just the right sized so that the solution made contact just with the crystal area and cyclops and didn't go into other areas. Left that for about an hour. Then retried pushing it off with my finger nails after some more heat from the lighter. This time the cyclops slid off.

After that kind of exposure to heat, I'm definitely not going to expose this watch to water.

Retrospectively, the best thing to do was to probably remove the crystal from the watch and soak that in the naphtha until the cyclops came off easily with a push.

Up next: Invicta logo removal.

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I can't fathom wearing a BB mod with this logo prominently displayed. I can guess why Invicta would want its customers to be their billboards, but I'm not going to be one of them. I basically began with a hand file.

WUS user Fullers1845 had given me some advice: "One thing that worked fairly fast was to hold the file still against a wooden table and slide the watch along the table and against the edge of the stationary file."

And so I filed. And filed. And filed.

Until I pretty much undid Invicta's aesthetic mistake.

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Then comes finer filing using sandpaper of various grit.

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Polished with steel wheel, 150 grit sandpaper, 600 grit sandpaper, sisal wheel with Dremel compound, then Cape Cod cloth for the final round of polishing. Mirror finish achieved. Now it's nice and shiny and logo free.

Then I reattached the bezel.

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Here's how I did it: First I inserted wire spring, then place down bezel while bending the spring around the crystal edge (carefully, this is tricky and took me more than a few tries). Finished by inserting octagon ring into the gap between the bezel and crystal.

And then the bezel insert was attached using G-S Hypo cement. The insert was made to fit a Rolex Submariner (16800, 16808, 16613) and was bought on the Bay from a seller in Texas.
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At this point, I had to wait for some time for the rose gold snowflake hands.
After the hands arrived, I did the usual. Removed hands and dial.


Put in the new BB dial from JakeB.

And then set the gold hands. And then back in the case.

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Here are some more shots of the completed mod.

Hope this has been helpful.

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Well done! That looks even better than the Dagaz Mod that uses the SNZH55 as a base. Your right about the angled bezel looking better too IMO. It's much more pleasing to the eye and adds a sort of depth to the dialR. eally great looking mod you have there; wear it in good health!
Thanks, jtstav. I was considering using the Seiko watches as a base, but a seredipitous read on these boards led me to using the Invicta. In some ways, I don't even consider it an Invicta because of the Seiko movement inside. I've only been wearing it for a day, and it appears to be keeping great time. The hacking function is also very welcome.

Another advantage is the price point. I bought the base watch for about $80. I had done a Fifty-Five Fathoms mod a few months ago, and the cost of the SNZ watch, maybe because of the demand from modders, was about double that. I actually had to order mine from Singapore, because not too many places here offered it at a reasonable price. The NH35A is a low-cost option, with some added features.

I'm quite surprised am not reading more about people modding with these NH35A movements using parts from JakeB or Yobokies or others.

And like you said, the stying is a plus. The flatter bezel worked well for my FFF homage, but for this one, I don't think I would have liked the look as much. That said, am planning on making a Planet Ocean homage with a Seiko 6309 base watch using the Alpha bezel insert. The sizing is a bit off, but I have an idea of what I might do. Will post results from those mods if they are successful.
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Nice job! As one who has fooled around with a few 8926s, I'm curious as to how you removed the bezel. Was it easy? I've heard that it is difficult to remove and usually results in a bent bezel, so I've never tried it.
Digivandig, for me the bezel removal for the 8926 was no harder than any other bezel I've taken off from other watches. If I remember correctly, I simply used a case knife to pry it off. If you are using enough force to bend the bezel, you are using way excessive force, period. There many written guides and videos on this. And really, even if you messed up, it is not a very expensive watch, so I would brave it. Good luck.
Great job! I really like it, and the tutorial makes me consider giving it a whirl. With all these bb mods popping up, I'm surprised to see nobody using a dome crystal replacement though.
Very nice! All you need is a distressed leather NATO and you're set.
Great work, STF! That dial & hands are just beautiful.

Glad I could help on the logo filing bit, though your polishing work way surpasses the mere brushing I ended up with.

Interesting to hear about the bezel too. The one I had seemed immovable in terms of coming off.

Great mod STF !
Really looks good. This dial and hands set from Jake really looks fantastic on whichever watch case IMHO. In fact, the watches don't even look 'modded' !
Long before the original Tudor Black Bays hit most shores (by the end of the year, in most places), there's gonna be lots of Tributes out there !!!
Enjoy your BB, and wear it in good health, my friend.

Fullers1845, thanks. I guess the bezel removal was harder than maybe the Seikos I've modded. I used a case knife and a small Swiss army knife. I think in hindsight I thought it the same as others, maybe just by the fact that I was successful after about 15 min of trying, perhaps a fluke. With my Steinhart Ocean 1's bezel I wasn't, and so by comparison that became my standard for tough to remove (I eventually took it to a watchmaker).

Some people do change the insert without removing the bezel by using a razor to slide under he insert, but that could scratch up the old one or even the glass.
Very nice! All you need is a distressed leather NATO and you're set.
Ottovonn, this is more of a dirty, rather than distressed, leather NATO, but you get the picture.

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Great mod! Thanks for sharing....I might pickup an Invicta like yours and follow the path!!!
Alright, last time was just a dirty leather nato. Had some time to actually distress one today. Combo of sandpaper, nails, alcohol, heat, wet coffee grounds for staining, super shene leather finish, and silicone spray.

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Indeed. That strap really ties the mod together.

An amazing effort, very well done. Thanks for sharing.
Alright, I'm in the middle of modding another Invicta with the Seiko movement and have found another way to remove the bezel. This is a lot easier, but the old insert will likely be very much so damaged.

First, you take an exacto or similar blade and wedge that sideways between the glass and the crystal. Careful to avoid scratching the glass. Once you're able to pry underneath the insert, you can peel it off the bezel.

Once the insert is off, you'll see a wire in between that gap between the crystal and the bezel.

With tweezers or another thin blade, carefully tug up the wire from one end to the other, in order to remove it. Here you can see it removed from that gap.

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Once that wire is removed, the entire bezel should come off easily.

Be careful with the spring wire underneath. If you are gentle, it'll stay in place and you wont have to spend time trying to wind it back in place once you're putting the bezel back in.

Here's the entire set of disassembled parts:

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Some people might ask, "So with the bezel insert off, why remove the entire bezel?" Well, I'm planning on filing off the Invicta engraving. I remove the bezel so that I won't damage it in that process.
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Great post and results!

Can you clarify, did the removal of the original bezel insert in the OP damage the insert?

Cannot figure out how to get these bezels inserts off without killin' em. Definitely agree with second bezel removal method, walking the retaining wire out after insert is out...but how do I get that insert out without damage?

I wonder if ceramic inserts are available
The removal of the insert in the original post didn't damage it. That was because somehow I was able to pull off the whole bezel and was just able to remove the insert by pushing it off with my fingers, intact.

This time, I tried for nearly an hour and couldn't get the bezel to come off. Knowing the mechanism and that, should I ever need a bezel like this, I can get them off the Bay (got my new one from seller kurtyiu, and my earlier one from seller wholesaleoutlet990), I went ahead with the more destructive route.

So, depends on your luck, I guess.

Ceramic bezels are available if you can get one sized for certain Rolexes. Just make sure the insert's diameter dimensions fit. For this watch, around: Outside 37.5 mm (have also seen this specified as 37.65) / Inside: 30.7 mm. Hopefully there's some room for error with ceramic, which I haven't installed. For my latest one, it's an insert for a GMT with a slightly larger outer diameter at 37.75mm, and so I've had to file down the outside.
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