Some objects just have an indescribable allure to them, a combination of looks and feel that just makes manipulating them feel right. If you're an overall enjoyer of fine things, you probably know what I mean; knives, firearms, quality tools, engine parts, pretty much anything made of metal to exacting tolerances really, they all have this special something that makes one feel warm and fuzzy on the inside when holding, contemplating or using them. Watches definitely fit into that category of items, and ever since the theft of my father's pass-me-down Citizen chronograph, I've scourged the internet for more information on watches, to the point where it has become kind of obsessive. The initial goal of my researches the replacement of a lots watch, quickly degenerated into the longing for acquiring a wide variety of watches.
My first purchased settled on a SKA347, a custom model refreshed by the owner of Motor City Watch Works for himself that went up for sale on a forum.
As far as Seikos go, this one isn't exactly all-out custom, but the bead-blasted finish on the entire watch made it noticeably different from it's stock counterpart. The looks were discrete, as they were with my Citizen, and the price was very right... I snatched it on sight. I've been wearing it daily for the past 10 weeks, and I love it. However, an unfortunate bike accident scratched the finish on the bracelet, and from that point on I was set on getting a daily beater, something lighter but just as solid, that I would customize to be more adequate for harsh use. The venerable SKX007 immediately sprung to mind as the perfect base for this project, as it's durability and that of it's predecessors being legendary. However, I thought the 007 to be a bit too crowded to my taste.
I got a little bit of inspiration from the Hamilton Khaki Field, a watch which was military issue during WWII and is still available today in a refreshed form.
Easily readable, minimal clutter, and a beautiful arabic numeral in a retro typeface at every hour; this is just what I was looking for. The only drawback is the fact that a new Hamilton's price tag hovers around the 600-800$ mark, and that sounds awfully expensive for a manual watch, no matter how beautiful and well-built. Building a clone from an SKX007 would get rid of both of those problems.
First thing, the stock bezel has to go. This guy named David, of internet fame on Watchuseek, sells custom turned stainless steel bezels for the 7S26 movements, of which the SKX007 is one amongst many. It looks pretty damn good, here is a comparison, stock on the left, blank bezel on the right.
Obviously, the bezel on the 7s26 case watches is much thicker than that of the Hamilton, but the 45 degree bevel is reminiscent of the latter's design in a way.
A raw stainless casing may be hot stuff around town, but the sheen is not something you want on a military-style watch based on the Hamilton. Luckily, MCWW offers Cerkote treatments, and I think "Desert Sage" looks pretty. Cerakote is supposed to be one of the most long-lasting coatings out there, so chances are it will take the beatings I am inevitably going to administer to this watch. Here's another SKX007 in desert sage, with stock bezel and another face sourced from the Seiko parts bin.
How tacticool is that? The face isn't doing it for me though, as I'd like a black face and stock black chapter ring to stay on the Hamilton theme. The SNK427 / SNX427 is another Seiko based on the 7S26 movement that has a Hamilton-look face, with what looks like the exact same typeface on the numerals, just what I needed.
It's a bit disappointing that the numeral's aren't lume-painted, but in the looks department, I think this is pretty much spot on. This face might be hard to come by though, as they were (are?) much less poplar than the Seiko 5 in the same style. Getting a real tritium face for the 007 is apparently difficult, although it looks cool as hell.
The absence of Seiko branding and the presence of the radioactivity symbol makes for an ever closer resemblance to the Hamilton.
A domed sapphire crystal would be the icing on the cake, tying up the whole Hamilton theme, but depending on the condition of the base watch's crystal, it might not be necessary. Of course, strap will be of the olive-drab NATO variety.
The plan is to get the watch and the flat bezel before Christmas, swap this part out myself, then wait for both mod part availability and additional funds before shipping out to MCWW. I'll be sure to post pictures of updates as they happen.
Note to the owners of these images which I borrowed without explicit permission: contact me if you want me to take anything down. None of the images are hotlinked, but I still want to make it clear that I had no intention of infringing on your content.