Would you mod a vintage watch?

Thread: Would you mod a vintage watch?

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  1. #1
    Member TheJohnP's Avatar
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    Would you mod a vintage watch?

    I see that modifying watches seems fairly popular in the affordable forums, but curious if anyone has or would mod a vintage watch?

    I have a Citizen Jet and the main reason I picked it up was because I think it has a gorgeous movement. (Below is an image I borrowed from another thread to show as an example.)



    I would love to put this into a case with a display back to showcase that movement, but unsure if that's a wise move. Not even sure I could find the right size display back case that would fit the movement properly. And I also realize the validity of trying to keep the watch in as original condition as possible.

    So figured I'd get some feedback to see what other think about modifying vintage watches.
    I've got more Converse sneakers than watches, but it is a close race.

  2. #2
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    Re: Would you mod a vintage watch?

    After all, it is Your watch... Ok. As long as You keep the original parts, it's no sin. However, I would not do it, if the original case is still decent.

    The movement is cool! I have only seen it once before.

    Look at my project:

    It's a Tissot Navigator Valjoux 7733. It came to me in a virtually destroyed case. So I bought a new one. Unfortunately, the movement still needs a service, and I don't want to invest further at this time. So it remains a project...
    Last edited by o.v.e; May 16th, 2010 at 20:35.

  3. #3
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    Re: Would you mod a vintage watch?

    Display backs are acceptable, especially on Speedmasters and some Rolexes. It would be interesting but expensive to make one custom for that watch. For a minute I thought you were talking about dial or hand swaps which would make most vintage collectors cringe or scream "Franken!"

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  5. #4
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    Re: Would you mod a vintage watch?

    Yes. There are simply billions of old watches, many of them unloved.
    Certainly there are those that are too expensive, collectable or historically significant to be modified but it is easy to become too precious about originality for its own sake. There is the fallacy that we get presented with every week where people think that if it is old, then it is valuable. More often than not it isn't and never will be. Just check that it isn't a sought after collector's piece and then do what you like. Far better to bring one back to life than to let it rot in a drawer.

  6. #5
    Member TheJohnP's Avatar
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    Re: Would you mod a vintage watch?

    I'm considering just purchasing a mushroom brand watch with a similar sized diameter case with a display back and just switching out the movement & dial. It seems like it could be simple enough or am I getting into something more complex? Or should I inquire to the watchmaker forum?
    I've got more Converse sneakers than watches, but it is a close race.

  7. #6
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    Re: Would you mod a vintage watch?

    For that one I would figure out how to do a mineral or sapphire back. There probably is something out there that would fit.
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  8. #7
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    Re: Would you mod a vintage watch?

    Quote Originally Posted by tomshep View Post
    Yes. There are simply billions of old watches, many of them unloved.
    Certainly there are those that are too expensive, collectable or historically significant to be modified but it is easy to become too precious about originality for its own sake. There is the fallacy that we get presented with every week where people think that if it is old, then it is valuable. More often than not it isn't and never will be. Just check that it isn't a sought after collector's piece and then do what you like. Far better to bring one back to life than to let it rot in a drawer.

    +1, and well said.
    I'm crazy over vintage watches, but the majority are not rare or exceptionally valuable.
    If you derive more enjoyment through modification than leaving them as-is, then go right ahead...but please show us pictures!

  9. #8
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    Re: Would you mod a vintage watch?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheJohnP View Post
    I'm considering just purchasing a mushroom brand watch with a similar sized diameter case with a display back and just switching out the movement & dial. It seems like it could be simple enough or am I getting into something more complex? Or should I inquire to the watchmaker forum?
    Now that is not so easy. My example above is a case specifically made for the Valjoux 7733. But even there You can see on the edges, that the dial is actually 1 mm to small in diameter: I would have to replace the dial also. That's just issue number on. The movement must fit securely into the case, which might require a suitable ring or other device, and the opening for the crown and the length of the shaft and whatever else needs to fit (distances and geometry). Normally, it is easier to have someone make a display back. Either from the original one (it has to be thick enough, and the form must allow it - especially in this case You don't want the glass to be too small) - or from scratch, which is more expensive. And I think it only works for screw back.

  10. #9
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    Re: Would you mod a vintage watch?

    There are companies - at least here in Germany! - that specialize in making see-through case backs from scratch. The clientele is more the modern Rolex owner who doesn't want to trash the case back or reasons of value. The downside is the price - it starts at around 200 Euros for steel backs (or back frames with a window in the middle!). Still, it's an alternative if you want to retain the original case back.

    Hartmut Richter

  11. #10
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    Re: Would you mod a vintage watch?

    I was admiring that movement just the other day. Congratulations.

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