back to top

How To Make Your Own Watch

How To Make Your Own Watch Featured Articles

Have you ever wanted a unique watch? Or perhaps just a few small changes to one you have or are considering? Once you dive into the world of horology, sooner or later you’ll start having strong opinions about what you like and dislike, and will probably start wondering what it’d take to make Your Perfect Wristwatch.

If you’re wealthy, it’s quite simple. Simply call Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin or many others, and they’ll be delighted to create a custom watch for you. For the rest of us, it’s a bit harder, but perhaps this post will help you get started.

Let’s start with the companies that exist to solve this precise problem.

Dwatch creates dive watches with a cushion-case design. As far as I know, they only have one case right now, but if you want a diver that’s a good place to look.

121 Time offers more choices, with quartz or mechanical movements. More cases, more looks, good reputation.

Moving up the cost scale, Golay-Spierer makes custom watches and the results are pretty impressive. In the USA, RGM Watches are an American company with their own in-house movement and a first-rate reputation for engine turning. On the opposite coast, KPM Watches is a custom-only shop in Oregon; his pictures look quite impressive. In Canada, Archer Watches has some classical-design pieces that I quite like as well. How To Make Your Own Watch Featured Articles

For even more high-end vendors, see this list.

If you want to try making a production run of watches, as opposed to a single watch, there are companies for that too. Watchmaking is tricky, in that there are zillions of single-purpose companies that you as a watchmaker need to deal with, coordinate and so on. Hand makers, dials, casemakers, movements, testing, Q&A, designers, CAD software, lume vendors… quite a lot of work, and there are many pitfalls. To help you out, these ODM companies have a network of partner companies they work with to coordinate the work for you.

Of the ODMs, I want to highlight two that have made watches that I own. I’m not able to be specific, as neither wants to go public with their source, but in both cases I can recommend the results.

On the Asian side, Giovino Watch Company is best known as the makers of the quite-nice Praesto line. Not as fancy or expensive, their minimum order quantity is 300 watches and my contacts with them have been quite professional.

On the Swiss side, if you want to have the coveted ‘Swiss Made’ on the dial, then check out Palladium AG. Really good watches, and priced quite well to boot – the ones I have are retail under $1,000USD and the quality is much higher than I’d expect for that cost.

121 Time also offers an ODM service; I’ve not seen the results and would be curious.

For German made, Ickler does private label work as well, I’ve not seen any of these but would fully expect them to be excellent based on their other brands.

If you want to assemble your own watch by hand, just to see what it’s like, then I recommend the TimeZone Watch School. $200 in tuition, plus around $400 in parts, and at the end you have an ETA-based handwind watch you built yourself.

This is, of course, an incomplete list, so please feel free to add other suggestions in the comments. Let us know if you’ve made your own!

By Paul Hubbard



Disqus Debug thread_id: 3991105128

  • What a great post you have here mate. 🙂
    I really appreciate what you shared.

  • Nathaniel

    This post made me go double rainbow. Signing up for watch school immediately.

  • Jeff

    I’ll second the Timezone watch school, especially the first course.

    On custom watches, I have a pilot watch from Wilson Watch Works that I love. I’d definitely recommend taking a look.

  • anthony darden

    First i would like to start my own watch company i have my own designs and would like to get them made

  • marcus alexander

    Looking for a manufacturer I designed an elegant wristwatch that lives your life with you i have a patent a oversized prototype

  • jvin85

    Is it possible for someone to design and hand make their own watch? I’m curious to learn this as a hobby and do this myself.

    • ThePadd

      Anything is possible, best to start by assembling a watch yourself. Then you can start looking into custom made cases, hands and dials. This is the watch I wear every day that I made for under £150. The dial was a sterile submariner dial I ‘signed’ by using waterslide transfers and sealing with matt lacquer. Just go on google or ebay and look for cases, dials, hands for either an ETA 2824 (but use a ST2130 or HZ6300) movement or a DG2813. Make sure the dial fits in the case and the movement you have chosen, then just google how to assemble it, its not that hard and you will learn a lot on the way!

  • dannyhealy1

    dude!  this is so aweomse!!  I thought I was the only one obsessed with building my own watch!  Thanks for the info…so helpful!

  • DavidSchrock

    Watchmaker team of experienced professionals strive to provide a
    higher level of service and support that our clients can’t get
    anywhere else. They
    build watches, make vintage parts that fit and provide reliable
    repair service of all high end watches. All of
    the regular / quality watches that were poor aren’t any longer
    produced in Swiss. They’re produced in China. Actually an option is
    to bild your view that is personal. Also view biuld package and the
    one thing that you need to do Would Be To purchase the components
    that you require. Here-you will find extra information just how to do
    this -http://www.vintagewatchmaker/

  • ChrisMasheder

    could you tell me where to go with an idea for a new watch design

    • Omkaar Kamath

      I have one but i will be selling it to one of the high end watch companies, I will sell it to u if you pay.

      It is a nice design with two uses
      Its is a revolutionary design

      • EasternCoaster


  • john
    • Omkaar Kamath


  • Chris, if you looking for Watch designer, i can help you , here is design portfolio –

    • ThePadd

      Love the artwork, but any actual watches that have been made?

      • Of course, but many companies work in confidential format . Thanks .

        • ThePadd

          Okay, great designs, the constellation watch (which I love) has given me an idea for a watch now!

  • Hmmm, I don’t think you really need to spend serious bucks if you want to make your own watch, when you can learn everything you need from google and YouTube. Then, if you are willing to work around the ETA2824 clone or DG2813 (cheaper) movements you can build your own automatic watch for under $200. I am currently wearing a sterile (no-brand) submariner homage (replica) with a quartz replacement for an ETA2824 that cost about £95 ($115 to make). It’s 100m waterproof on a nice submariner style bracelet. I have another that’s got a Seagull ST2130 movement in it, crystal case back, gaudy orange strap and tritium ‘hairlight’ hands. That cost me less than $200 to make and runs very accurately. Oh and I built a sterile Rolex Explorer replica for my other half which she wears to work.
    If you are just assembling a watch, all you need to consider are; style of watch, what movement, what case size, dial size and dial feet position, hands (need to fit dial size and the canons of the movement), strap or bracelet.
    Its a great way to wile away a few evenings finding the right parts, checking they will all fit together, asking questions or searching answers on the various forums. Then buying the parts and few tools to help you get your first build done.
    Typical costs – case £30 -75, movement £20-80, dial £10-25, hands £5-15, strap/bracelet £1 to £35. Next thing you know you’ll be building a James Bond replica Rolex 6538 with film correct strap for your buddy, like me! Yes I did buy a NATO style strap from Hong Kong for £1!