As with any watch-geek, once your friends know you are ‘into watches,’ you become the defacto go-to person for watch advise. More recently in talking to friends, I’ve found that new dads find themselves coming into watches as they hope to have an heirloom to pass down.
A staple choice is a simple dive watch; and I argue that if it is modded, then it can be a faster and more trusted tool than that smartphone. I point friends and new dads alike to something like a Seiko SKX. It is an ISO 6425 dive watch; meaning that if it is good enough to withstand the rigors of diving at 200 meters, it it can survive a toddler.
I can almost guarantee that whatever watch you wear, it will draw the attention of your newborn baby or toddler. They will stare at it, grab it, pound on it and attempt to eat it. That water resistance insures that drool and bath time will be no issue. Lume at night will help you see just what time that last feeding before the sun is up really is. It also offers a little distraction and focus for a wiggler during a quick diaper change.
Setting the dive bezel is one of the best, simplest and fastest tools to track your wee-ones habits. So, when your spouse asks you,
“How long ago was that last diaper?…“
You could easily reply,
“2 hours ago”
And not skip a beat.
Yes, we have phones for this. And yes, there are apps for this. But in all honesty, for those first few months of sleep deprived parenthood, it’s a huge help to have something with you all the time that doesn’t require a charge, a swipe to unlock, or a too-bright screen (that might wake up that slumbering wee-one). To quote Apple from the early 2000’s;
“It just works…”
There is a debate among watch enthusiasts over the merits of mechanical versus quartz movements. I’m not one to snob a good quartz watches if they are well built; they offer a more accurate measurement of time than their mechanical siblings and are much more durable in instances of shock. Even though I recommend Seiko often, in the same breath I also recommend Citizen’s Eco-Drive quartz watches. They are solar powered, and will charge in practically any kind of light. But personally, a moment like a child’s birth is a perfect opportunity for someone who has aspired to own a mechanical watch, to afford themselves the acquisition.
As I wrote about previously, it will come as no surprise when I say that a Seiko SKX model watch is a staple recommendation to any new or even veteran watch enthusiast. However, I want to offer a twist to that recommendation. The watch itself fits all the needs of a new dad, and won’t break the bank. But for some, it doesn’t fit the bill of uniqueness to commemorate the occasion of fatherhood. The SKX, through its two decades of production, is more than a watch; it is a platform. A huge modding community surrounds it, and Seiko in general. Here are a few simple mods, which any dad could do, to truly make his watch one-of-a-kind; just like his new little side-kick. Not only are these mods affordable, but you won’t have to worry too much about screwing up your watch since they don’t delve into working on the actual movement.
Watch Case Back & Engraving
Here is where you can really commemorate the occasion. Consider getting a sterile case back (like this one from Crystaltimes Horology) and talk to your local engraver. It can be as simple as engraving the date of birth of your little one, or as elaborate as this image; where I created an original design with the coordinates of my son’s birth town and the things that make up the pacific northwest culture. As an heirloom, wherever he goes in his life, it can have this on his wrist and literally remember where he came from.
Adding functionality by way of the bezel insert is the simplest way to get the most out of your three-hander. In my case, I added a 12hour bezel that also has the minute elapse markers to help me track hours between feedings, or track a second timezone for those family Skype calls. Taking the bezel off is a pretty simple and harmless mod. The insert is held with some strong 3M adhesive. I find it comes off easily if you warm up the insert and bezel in some hot water. There is a gasket on the inside that you might want to take out beforehand to clean before reinstalling.
A word of caution, when taking off the bezel be sure to tape off the case to help prevent scratching or gouging the case. Also, just be mindful of the click spring underneath when you slide your case knife under. There are two points on the spring that are thinner than the rest of the spring (its where the two click-stops rise up to meet the grooves under the bezel ring) and it’s easy to break the spring. If you do, a new one usually costs around $15 USD.
These external case mods really only require some simple tools and a patient hand. The Seiko SKX007 can usually be found for around $200 USD. A case wrench can be found off Amazon for around $15 and a case knife for around $5. If you plan on doing a bezel, a crystal press is handy at around $20 to press it onto the case evenly. Add in about $50 or so for an engraving at your local engraver and you have a watch that will be an invaluable tool as well as a great talking point to commemorate the occasion of fatherhood. And when the day comes, it’s something you can pass off to your son or daughter, along with all the stories from you wearing it.
For a more in depth article on watch modding, read my article A Timelord Time-Lapse | 7S26 SKX007 Modding for more details on modding an SKX.
Or, read about my journey on building my own watch; the PNW001 (coming soon).