WatchOtaku : Design and make your own watch


Its incredibly hard it is to find suppliers for amateur and small-volume watch designers, tinkerers and those considering making their own watch. I'm willing to provide advice, design reviews, watch reviews and similar, for either an hourly rate or in exchange for review watches. I'm in it for the watches, as you might have guessed!

Please feel free to email me with additions, comments or to ask about consulting.

Small run of customized watches

I've had a few emails asking for a source of 100-ish customized inexpensive watches.

  • Moment Watches, which I found via "Dear Coffee, I love you". DCILY had a run made and they look decent. (Have not seen one in person).
  • Butler Watche Co, found via this WUS post. Custom designs and engraving.
  • 121 Time private label is quite good. ETA 2824 movement. Minimum order 50, with fewer for more expensive watches. This is their 'private label' site, which is targeted at low-run customized watches, mostly for companies, but it might be a good way to do an initial proof-of-concept, Kickstarter/fundraiser production. See Watch examples.pdf for details and samples, some quite elaborate. In addition to the basic movements, they also have the ETA 7753 and 2892 - good stuff.

One-off and low-volume custom designs

  • 121 Time has a few different cases plus quartz of mechanical (ETA 2824 mostly)  They contacted me on 1/28/16 with an updated URL and the promise of a review sample... yay! From the PDF they sent me, they have other mechanical movements based around the ETA 2892 and maybe the Dubois-Dupraz modules. I've now gotten mine (early 2016) and, review pending, its a very nice watch and a very fair price. Recommended. 
  • Undone Watches is similar to 121 Time, they have a case (appx 42mm by 52mm by 16mm) you can build a custom watch around. I'm not a cyclops fan, but reviews are strongly positive and they do have a wide variety of dials, colors and finishes. Lots of pics on their Instagram feed.
  • Just found this April 2012, Fewsome is a really slick way to produce a single watch, with optional diver case and/or custom dial. Prices from $160 for a basic automatic, around $200 for a diver. Looks good. Basic Miyota 8205 movement.


These will work with you to do the entire thing. Design, sourcing, movements, etc. The most expensive option, of course.

Switzerland & Germany

  • 121 Time does private label - As of 1/28/16, the CEO emailed me an updated link, for which I give him major plaudits. He is going to send me a coupon for me to design a custom watch, so expect blog posts and a review.
  • - reader tip 2/17, seems to be full OEM/ODM with ops in both China and Switzerland.
  • Swiss Custom Watches - reader tip Sep 2015. MOQ 500, roughly 200CHF each.
  • On Twitter, Jon Edwards recommends Rovent-Henex as "The discrete brains & brawn behind thousands of Swiss watches for many familiar brands." (sic) They claim to be the leading producer, and manufacture in both Switzerland and Hong Kong.
  • Palladium AG Mid-to-high-end Swiss, I have some of their watches and rate them quite high. On my short list if I were to start a watch company.
  • Cattin and Cie used to make Christopher Ward (including my Malvern) and are a great place to start. The early CW series were (and are) superb values, implying that Cattin is reasonably priced for good work.
  • As of 2011 or so, Christopher Ward is now using Synergies Horologeres, as made the superb Christopher Ward C11 Automatic. A step up in quality.
  • Ickler does OEM as well
  • Via Horozima, Swiss Blanchefontaine looks interesting. MOQ 300, not bad.

Hong Kong and China

  • Montrichard seems to be a full solution, complete with market research. Sent to me by a reader, I have no direct experience with them yet.
  • Fullswing makes Helson and Armida - very very good stuff, and well priced. See my Helson Blackbeard and its review.
  • Furitime does OEM/ODM, used to make OWC Watch Company. I've heard from a friend that I trust that Furitime's pictures include cases they didn't make: Specifically Halios and Korsbek. Those are not Furitime, and so at this I do not recommend Furitime.
  • Giovino (The folks behind Praesto)
  • MPI Limited Great website, looks very promising as a partner company.
  • Million Smart Enterprises (See the CWIW entry)

Unknowns and read-abouts



Casemaking is often quite difficult. Machine tooling and line production setup both cost big bucks, so if you're starting out expect to have to choose a case from a catalog or spend a heckuva lot of time getting one made to order.

Quartz and analog-digital

I have to be vague, but I can vouch for these two personally.

Everything else/outsourcing

Modification / customization companies

For if you want modifications to a watch you already have, one-off. New hands, lume, bezel, Cerakote, etc.


Dials & redials

Case refinishing and replating

If you have a a plated or coated case, I've read excellent reviews of the work at from Christian at the watch guy repair blog.

For DIY finishing, K&H links to Merard, looks pretty good.


There are two choices here, tritium tubes or Superluminova. Tritium is expensive and a major hassle, as a warning, so you almost certainly want superluminova.

  • RC Tritec sells lume, binder, does prototypes and is a good place to start. They also do tritium.
  • LumTec is awesome; they sell premixed lume via eBay.
  • For tritium tubes and watch subcontracting, try Bonding Ltd in Hong Kong. They rock.
  • NoctiLumina has lume kits that look excellent. Mixing bowls, lume, pigments, binders too.


This area is changing rapidly, mostly due to ETA's decision to stop selling movements and ebauches. Start with this killer page from Prometheus Watches for a complete rundown of the alternatives. Just magnificent information, and huge props to Prometheus for honesty.

Materials suppliers

(Many of these links are cribbed from Montres) Parts, movements, tools, gaskets, etc, etc.

NAWCC also has a huge list of suppliers

Design Software

(Image credit: RGM via Alibre)


  • I found via a WUS for-sale post, they carry sapphire for lots of Seiko SKX and similar. Also available with AR coatings and prices seem reasonable.
  • From 5/2010 Watch Journal, R.Montavon is one of the high-end Swiss sapphire makers.
  • According to a now-404 WatchTime article, Swiss company Stettler Sapphire AG produces the best dive watch crystals, for brands like IWC, Breitling and Panerai.
  • GS Supplies makes custom crystals, in sapphire, mineral and acrylic.
  • Stettler Sapphire is the highest of the high-end suppliers, complex shapes and machining.

Anti-reflective coatings

  • Econorm is probably the best out there. Their site vanished, as of 10/2014, leaving link here in case I find a new one.
  • 2geeks will do single crystals for 50 Euros if you want to add AR to an existing watch.


Presentation cases & shipping boxes

  • natpak Found via Twitter, natpak looks decent for boxes and presentation material.
  • Luxury-pak For European market
  • Chippenhook does watch and jewelry packaging - looks good also.


For less-expensive watchmakers-to-be, the one conference to hit is HKTDC (ttp://, every September in Hong Kong. Umpteen zillion square meters of exhibitors for parts, components, movements, complete watches, ODM/OEM, you name it and more. It took me 4 days just to /see/ all the booths!

HKDTC also has a good online directory for online shopping and previewing.


The HourTime podcast has a good episode with Jeff Kuo of Xetum watches, where he discusses design, sourcing and more. He's a little vague on specific companies, but overall an excellent tutorial and well worth a listen.


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Watch examples.pdf (application/pdf)