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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Taking a cue from the F7 Build Your Own Flieger thread, I thought I'd post a short how-to on building your own PAM. I'll list the parts I used(except for a slight change in movement), but there's certainly a wide range of parts you could use for something like this. I went with a titanium case w/sapphire which is about $75usd more than the stainless one with a mineral crystal. So if you want to save a few bucks that's a cheaper option. I also went with a more decorated Chinese made Unitas 6497 clone. You can save a few bucks going with the basic Seagull ST36 like the one I referenced below. Just make sure your dial matches the side with the small seconds hands from the movement. The 6497 has the seconds hand at 9 o'clock and the 6498 has it at the 3 o'clock. Naturally you can go with a genuine 6497/6498, but those are big $$$. I referenced some relatively cheap tools which are not what I have, but should be adequate for the project.

Parts listing:

Titanium watch case w/sapphire crystal $138

Seagull ST36 Unitas 6497 clone (Swan neck regulator). $47

PAM dial. $14

Dial hands. $25

24mm strap of your choice.

The movement I bought did not come with a dial washer which wasn't a big deal for me as I had an assortment of them already. The one I referenced in the parts listing reportedly does include a dial washer. Some people don't use them because not all movements include them, but they are a good idea as it reduces friction between the gear and the dial.

Helenarou parts come from Hong Kong and take a while to receive. You might get them sooner, but plan on about 6-8 weeks.

Tools listing:

1mm screwdriver. $5

Tweezers. $3

Watch hand tool press. $7

Blower/Duster. $4

Ball case back opener. $4

Rodico. $6

You'll also need some basic hand tools for cutting down the stem such as a small pair of diagonal wire cutters, pliers, and a small file. You can certainly use the ones designed for watch repair or you can substitute those from your local hardware store.

Here's a good video on assembly instructions. The Helenarou case I used does not have a movement ring and the movement clamps directly to the case.


 

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That's pretty neat. I've been thinking about doing this with another watch enthusiast buddy. Good to see it isn't that difficult to do without a few tools. The funny part is I was looking at a Pam homage as well. It's a small world. Thank you for posting this.

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Discussion Starter #3
I thought I’d post an update sine I had some problems with the movement I originally installed. I didn’t include it in my parts list and instead referenced the Seagull ST36, which I think is an acceptable movement for this project. The one I ordered was generic and not branded. It worked fine for a while, but then began to stop intermittently. I suspect it was sold unlubricated.

I thought about replacing it with the ST36 I referenced, which I’m sure would have been a good movement to use, but I liked this watch so well I decided to opt for a genuine undecorated ETA 6497 from Otto Frei. While this significantly raised the price of this little project, the results are quite nice. So maybe this watch isn’t like owning a real PAM118, but at least the movement is pretty close.
 

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Nice thread - have playing with a few designs ETA 6497 / ST36 based - the most interesting is to source good parts (reasonable price / quality) with reliable shipment, while trying to match case/hands/dial. I have also experienced a few misses with inaccurate measurements or specifications mainly with dials not fitting the case. That’s likely part of the learning process ...





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It turned out great! I have always been skeptical with some of the Chinese movements. It seems hit and miss sometimes. I think I would spend the extra on the ETA as you did. I am now thinking of building one myself. Great thread!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It turned out great! I have always been skeptical with some of the Chinese movements. It seems hit and miss sometimes. I think I would spend the extra on the ETA as you did. I am now thinking of building one myself. Great thread!
I'm gathering the parts for another flieger. This one will have a Sea-Gull ST36XX which I already have. I think the ST36 is a good choice with the exception of the models with 3 screws on the crown wheel. It's about $125usd cheaper than the base ETA 6497 and it's more highly decorated. The ETA 6497 decorated to the same degree costs about $300usd.
 

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i wish Panerai itself provided a similar service. they're pretty bad with their design decisions. i'd sell a kidney for a 1392 without the ugly, weak faux lume patina, with proper 300m WR (and without increasing thickness or removing the sapphire back. if microbrands can do it, i'm sure a giant like Panerai can manage), and the best handwinding movement they can fit in the 42mm case...
 

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Where are you getting your parts from ?

I have been using / doing:

- US Esslinger + Otto Frei
- HK Helena Rou
- misc. eBay vendors (some options for dials/hands) although not always reliable measurements or shipping
- I have also been buying finished made watches on amazon (they have a 80$ ST36 based pilot watch) that tou can completely dismount and customize (you get case, movmt, straps, hands, .... and you mount alternative ones)

The ETA 6497/6498 and their Seagull Tianjin 36xx are great to play with ;)


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I want to thank @dfwcowboy for his original post -- I was inspired by it, the F7 Build Your Own Flieger thread he referenced, and some YouTube videos to finally get off my butt and learn how to modify my own Seikos and order parts from eBay to build my own watches. I built my friend a customized Seiko SNK809 with a nice dial and hands from Yobokies, am 99% complete with my rescue-and-modification of a really beat up Seiko Orange Monster SKX781, and am waiting on parts to build my first two ETA 6497/6498 watches. I'll share my build photos, etc. when the watches are complete, but I'm totally inspired here. Thank you!

I went with a genuine elabore grade ETA 6498, a nice 41mm case, and a beautiful white enameled dial and heat-blued hands from a great parts supplier in France for my first build. I've got generic Chinese parts lined up for my next build. As someone with a relatively restricted budget, it is really cool to build my own custom watches instead of lusting after similar offerings I can't afford! I could have gone with Chinese components for my 6498 build, but wanted to make something really special for myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I wouldn’t mind seeing pictures of your 6498 build and
I went with a genuine elabore grade ETA 6498, a nice 41mm case, and a beautiful white enameled dial and heat-blued hands from a great parts supplier in France for my first build. I've got generic Chinese parts lined up for my next build. As someone with a relatively restricted budget, it is really cool to build my own custom watches instead of lusting after similar offerings I can't afford! I could have gone with Chinese components for my 6498 build, but wanted to make something really special for myself.
I wouldn’t mind seeing pics and a link to your supplier
 

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"TacTic TicTac Montres" from France. Stéphan’s hands are traditionally heat-blued, his 41mm case is a great size and can be upgraded with a sapphire crystal on the front, and his dials look really nice. He uses SuperLuminova for his lume. He's definitely more expensive than some of the Chinese suppliers, and shipping took quite awhile.

 
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So, I'm almost done with my build. I attempted to recreate the look of the $1,400 Stowa Marine Original Arabic, and I think that I did a pretty good job. I could have used less expensive parts to save some cash, but I wanted something special for my first "nice" build.

The watch isn't done yet, as I'm waiting on a "midnight blue" alligator strap from Aaron Bespoke and I need to replace the small seconds hand. Tragically, the small seconds hand fell on my floor at some point and turned into a little pretzel. I've managed to straighten it out enough to put it on the watch, but the damage is visible and I'm replacing it.

The watch is currently running at -30s/day in most positions, and I'll be regulating it in the coming days. I will say that the Elabore Grade 6498-1 looks a lot nicer than a similarly-decorated Seagull movement I picked up. The Seagull, however, is running better before any adjustments.

Here are my parts, costs, and sources:
  1. ETA Elabore Grade 6498-1 (18,000 bph, 56 h power reserve, 17 jewels): $269. It's possible to buy used ETA 6498-1 movements in the form of vintage off-brand Swiss watches for ~$150-200, but I wanted a new movement instead of a movement I'd need to service.
  2. 41mm brushed-steel case with a AR sapphire crystal: $123.36. It's easy to find larger cases from Chinese sellers for significantly lower cost, but I wanted the case to be 41mm. I liked the crown, and I saved some money buying my case, dial, and hands from the same seller.
  3. Heat-Blued Hands: $62.25. I love these. They're a lot more subtle than hands that have blue chrome paint on them.
  4. Satin White Marine Dial: $28.29. It's sterile, but it's high quality. I love it.
  5. 22mm Hirsch TORONTO Fine-Grained Leather Strap: $25.95. This is a placeholder until my alligator strap arrives from Aaron Bespoke.
After tax and shipping, my parts were $586.54, not including the ~$280 Aaron Bespoke strap. At ~$880 total, I've saved $570 from the cost of the Stowa plus shipping. (Plus I had fun and learned a lot!) Tax and shipping added quite a bit to my costs, and my tools weren't the cheapest. I initially went with super cheap Chinese tools, but ran into some issues with their quality. Because I intend to build quite a few more watches, I decided to invest in Bergeon and Horotec tools from Esslinger.com. These tools make the work a lot easier and safer, and I'm glad I invested in them.

The worst part of putting this watch together was how long shipping took. I ordered my movement on 6/20/20, and just got it today (7/7/20). The case, dial, and hands I ordered on 6/5/20, and didn't receive until 6/27/20. I just ordered the replacement small seconds today, and don't expect it for another three weeks

Long story short, this build was more expensive than it needed to be. There are a lot of great Chinese options for movements, cases, dials, hands, etc. that would have saved me quite a bit of money. And I'm certainly not saving money by going with a custom Aaron Bespoke strap. That said, I've loved this process -- including the setbacks I've had with this watch and with some Seikos I'm modding/repairing -- and I love that this watch is uniquely mine.

Once my strap and replacement small seconds arrive, I'll do a full photoshoot with this watch. In the meantime, I'm going to regulate it and see if I can get it to run better than -30 sec/day!

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Is there an automatic movement that would work in the same PAM cases?
The specific cases and dials sold by Helenarou are sized for an ETA 6497 or 6498 movement. These movements, and their Seagull clones, are hand-winding only.

That said, I think one could probably find a PAM-style dial and case sized for a Seiko, ETA 2824-2, or Chinese cloned movement. Unfortunately, those movements have central seconds ... so anything you'd build using those will either need to use central seconds or no seconds. Also, IMO, one of those much-smaller movements would look very odd in a case sized appropriately for a 6497 or 6498. Wouldn't be an issue with a non-display caseback.
 
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Can anyone tell me if it's possible to get a clone version of the 649X movement with central seconds?

Would also prefer 18,000 vph and a swan neck regulator if possible.

I have seen old pocket watches with it but no new clone movements.

I'm interested in building a Flieger.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Can anyone tell me if it's possible to get a clone version of the 649X movement with central seconds?
The only ones I’ve seen were from watch manufacturers who modified them in-house. Even if you could find such a thing, you might run into issues with the seconds hand not having enough clearance under the crystal depending on what case you selected.
 
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