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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may seem straight out of left field, but bear with me for a minute.

One of my hobbies over the years has been hunting, shooting, and gun-collecting. During that time, I've had a few custom rifles built for myself. These have been built by custom gunsmiths (most of whom belong to the American Custom Gunmakers' Guild), using components (some of which they may have made themselves) garnered from various sources. Perhaps the key component is what is termed the action. This is the loading and firing mechanism of the rifle. To the action, we screw on a barrel (often made by an independent barrel-maker), and bolt it into a custom-made, high-quality wooden (usually walnut) stock. The only component that is very seldom made by an independent custom gunsmith is the action (although there are a few custom-made actions). For my rifles, I've used Mauser, Winchester, Remington, and Sauer actions, but these are made by the factories. Sometimes, these can be purchased separately, but usually they're stripped off old rifles.

It has struck me that the watch hobby is much like the gun hobby. The analog of the rifle action is the watch movement--again something that can sometimes be acquired separately, although could also be taken from an existing watch. The barrel and stock are, in some ways, analogous to the dial, hands, and case.

So here's my thought. Suppose I wanted a really beautiful radio-controlled watch. A movement that is quite inexpensive is the Seiko 7B24, which sync's in North America. Unfortunately, I don't really like the complete watches that house this movement very much. However, are there independent watchmakers out there that could fashion a case, dial, and hands to fit the 7B24 movement? If this could be done, we could create a truly exquisite watch that has the RC feature--something that just doesn't exist today.

So, my question, I guess, is whether there are watchmaking equivalents of the custom gunsmiths I've used over the years? If so, could they do the watch case on a custom basis? The dial? The hands? etc.
 

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Anything is possible, but what you are asking will cost many thousands of dollars. And that is if you can find someone capable and willing to take on such a task. Most people who can do this are probably real busy running their watch company so they can pay the mortgage.

There is much engineering involved with getting a movement to fit a case and all of that needs to be figured out before the CNC machine gets turned on. Then you still need a crystal, crown, case back, the hands need to be painted and lumed, etc.

There have been many discussions in the watchmaking forum about making custom cases, and I always ask the question how many have you seen here on watchuseek? I can recall exactly one home made watch case. So, yes, it can be done, but will it be? my answer is no.
 

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The trick to pulling something like this off is to avoid the temptation to reinvent the wheel. You can take the seiko movement and mate it to an off the shelf case, hands and dial and still keep your budget under $1500. You can also spend triple that amount having all those parts made from scratch, but chances are that what you'll have at the end is something lacking the water resistance and tight tolerances of an off the shelf piece. The only thing that I noted is that seiko doesn't seem to sell the movent separately and all of their watches which use that movement require a dial with solar cells to charge the battery. Again, not an impossible project but you will be limited in dial and case choices unless you are ready to drop a few thousand $$$.
 

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Anything is possible, but what you are asking will cost many thousands of dollars. And that is if you can find someone capable and willing to take on such a task. Most people who can do this are probably real busy running their watch company so they can pay the mortgage.

There is much engineering involved with getting a movement to fit a case and all of that needs to be figured out before the CNC machine gets turned on. Then you still need a crystal, crown, case back, the hands need to be painted and lumed, etc.

There have been many discussions in the watchmaking forum about making custom cases, and I always ask the question how many have you seen here on watchuseek? I can recall exactly one home made watch case. So, yes, it can be done, but will it be? my answer is no.
+1

The trick to pulling something like this off is to avoid the temptation to reinvent the wheel. You can take the seiko movement and mate it to an off the shelf case, hands and dial and still keep your budget under $1500. You can also spend triple that amount having all those parts made from scratch, but chances are that what you'll have at the end is something lacking the water resistance and tight tolerances of an off the shelf piece. The only thing that I noted is that seiko doesn't seem to sell the movent separately and all of their watches which use that movement require a dial with solar cells to charge the battery. Again, not an impossible project but you will be limited in dial and case choices unless you are ready to drop a few thousand $$$.
Good point~Cheers! ;-)
 

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This may seem straight out of left field, but bear with me for a minute.

One of my hobbies over the years has been hunting, shooting, and gun-collecting. During that time, I've had a few custom rifles built for myself. These have been built by custom gunsmiths (most of whom belong to the American Custom Gunmakers' Guild), using components (some of which they may have made themselves) garnered from various sources. Perhaps the key component is what is termed the action. This is the loading and firing mechanism of the rifle. To the action, we screw on a barrel (often made by an independent barrel-maker), and bolt it into a custom-made, high-quality wooden (usually walnut) stock. The only component that is very seldom made by an independent custom gunsmith is the action (although there are a few custom-made actions). For my rifles, I've used Mauser, Winchester, Remington, and Sauer actions, but these are made by the factories. Sometimes, these can be purchased separately, but usually they're stripped off old rifles.

It has struck me that the watch hobby is much like the gun hobby. The analog of the rifle action is the watch movement--again something that can sometimes be acquired separately, although could also be taken from an existing watch. The barrel and stock are, in some ways, analogous to the dial, hands, and case.

So here's my thought. Suppose I wanted a really beautiful radio-controlled watch. A movement that is quite inexpensive is the Seiko 7B24, which sync's in North America. Unfortunately, I don't really like the complete watches that house this movement very much. However, are there independent watchmakers out there that could fashion a case, dial, and hands to fit the 7B24 movement? If this could be done, we could create a truly exquisite watch that has the RC feature--something that just doesn't exist today.

So, my question, I guess, is whether there are watchmaking equivalents of the custom gunsmiths I've used over the years? If so, could they do the watch case on a custom basis? The dial? The hands? etc.
I think the main difference is that in the custom gun hobby, most people have a fairly good idea of what to expect with the end result.......but custom watch hobby, things are way too unpredictable IMO as far as expectations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
These are very helpful responses, guys; many thanks. So, maybe a more feasible way to go would be to find a complete watch that I like insofar as its case, and try to fit the 7B24 movement into it. I'd forgotten about the solar-permeable dial that you mentioned, PyroLume, so that would probably have to go in with the movement, leaving less to customize. Perhaps some customizing could be performed on the outer part of the dial (like lume at the hour markers), as I believe that the light-penetrating sector is generally in the central part.
 

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You could certainly have everything but the movement custom crafted, but you may also be able to purchase those pieces instead. Complete watch cases can be purchased easily enough. You could also purchase a watch who's case you like and then swap movements.

You will need to know the measurements of your movement, exactly where the crown sits, how it attaches to the dial and how the movement w/dial fit into the case. I honestly don't think it would be that difficult to fabricate a custom spacer or other means of fitting the movement into the case. The dial will present more problems for the solar charging, although even that shouldn't be impossible. Instead of buying or making a steel dial you might be able to start with a thin piece of Lexan.

I don't think this needs to be a very expensive endeavor.
 

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You could do it with off the shelf parts and for less than a couple hundred bucks. I don't know where these "thousands of dollars" estimates are coming from. You could spend that if you want to, but is ABSOLUTELY not necessary.
 

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You could do it with off the shelf parts and for less than a couple hundred bucks. I don't know where these "thousands of dollars" estimates are coming from. You could spend that if you want to, but is ABSOLUTELY not necessary.
The thousands of dollar estimates are coming from guys who actually make parts, so I guess you could call that coming from experience. The only way to get your piece cost low is to order hundreds or thousands of pieces, the lower the piece count the higher the price until you get to one piece and big bucks. (or lots of pieces and still big bucks because you just ordered a thousand pieces of something :-d)

Anyone who thinks it is an easy thing to just take so and so movement and put it in so and so case I say say try it, then report back with your findings.

I'm not trying to rain on anybody's parade, but if it is so easy to swap out movements and make new cases where are these new creations? you can be sure they would posted about with reckless abandon and yet there are NONE.
 
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