Our Seiko Story
Posted on November 20 2020
Where it all began
As a child in the 1970s and 80s, I had less interest in academia and enjoyed woodwork and making things using tools and my bare hands. My younger mind was often fascinated by the cogs, wheels and mechanisms that seemed to bring my electronic and motorised toys to life. As a student, I pursued engineering and worked with engines and gearboxes in a mechanics garage.
I later joined the London Underground and worked for many years as a train driver. The monotonous nature of a driver’s job demanded mental stimuli that led me to seek a regular hobby. That hobby was watches.
Interest and Experimentation with Mechanical Watches
Although I owned many watches, my interest in mechanical watches began around the time my wife gifted me a Rotary chronograph for our wedding anniversary. From there my watch collection grew, as did my wife’s impatience at the space it took over. I kept the timepieces that I was not ready to give up and slimmed down my collection.
Slowly gaining confidence at solving problems with watches, I attempted repairs on all my ‘nonstarters’, that is, watches having all the parts but would not start. If I’m really honest, my early confidence at attempting repairs came from seeing my wife casually take off the back of a Seiko 5 automatic and reposition the balance wheel until it sprang to life. It was as if she knew exactly what to do. Was it a fluke? A woman’s touch? Or was she a watchmaker in a former life? I never found out.
I also asked for advice from friendly watchmakers and scoured internet forums and YouTube videos for tips and information. I started with repairing easy mechanical watches and a few that were battery operated. Many of my repairs, in fact, needed minor fixes or replacement parts. With my limited but sure knowledge, I repaired watches for my relatives, friends and eventually some very trusting collectors. Being ‘self-taught’, every nonstarter remained dead as a doorknob or got going at some point of my exertion.
Seiko timepieces and the niche of Seiko Mods
By 2012, I had amassed a small collection of mostly swiss watches including Breitling, Rolex, Movado, IWC, Omega, Bulova, Oris, and some pocket watches (conversions). Around the same time, my growing appreciation for Seiko watches brought me into contact with dealers in the far East. I began sourcing vintage Seiko divers and chronographs not available in the UK market.
Around 2015, I resigned from my job and travelled abroad with my wife. My interest in watches continued and I moved on to sourcing better quality watches and parts from larger dealers. By 2019, I was mostly modifying Seiko Mods, which are original Seiko watches modified with aftermarket replacement parts. This niche grew out of what appears to be a desire for one-off and unique timepieces not available direct ‘off the shelf’. Without any knowledge of design or colour theory, I took an intuitive approach to choosing parts and colour combinations to modify my watches that I thought would appeal to my regular collectors. Gradually the demand outstretched my ability to supply and my workstation became cramped with my various projects.
Job Satisfaction for A Job Well Done
By autumn 2020, The year of SARS-CoV-2, Covid19 for short, I took a small office to do my modification projects as my day job. My wife’s help with packaging and admin freed up my time to experiment with various combinations of my divers watches. I never felt happier doing a job. When sitting at my workstation in my small office, I feel an acute sense of satisfaction when thinking of all the watches I have repaired and modified over the years, ticking away on the wrists of men going about their business all over the world.
A Brand in the Making
Investing the time, building trust with my suppliers and customers and upgrading the quality of my builds as time went on, which I do to this day, led to the opportunity to start my own brand. Though I was nervous and unsure, with my wife’s encouragement and plenty of ‘wind’ left in me, I drew a deep breath and dove right in (all puns intended). That is how Watch Tomb, a taste of nostalgic timepieces, was born.