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Otto Frei & Brush Metal Seiko Watch Mod

Otto Frei is a watch and jewelry depot founded by Otto Frei, a Swiss master watchmaker, and his wife Alice in 1930. The warehouse is chaos. Their website looks pre-internet. But this place is a gem. If you look close enough.

Otto Frei

126 2nd St, Oakland, CA 94607 They’re closed during the weekends and have odd working hours. 8-1230pm, then 130-5pm M-F. If you’re expecting a Home Depot experience, you couldn’t be more wrong. With more than 32,000 unique items in stock, they simply don’t have the real estate to showcase the complete inventory. So make sure you first check out their site before swinging by; it happens to be the most efficient way to see what they offer.

Rack on rack on rack.

Most items are either still wrapped in brown paper boxes or sit behind the counter. You do see some post-watch-mod collaterals for sale. The warehouse is huge, but most of it is off-limits. You better know what you want or get ready to scroll through their site with the phone. And surprise, their site’s not mobile friendly. They check emails but don’t open ones with attachment. They don’t identify parts for you, you gotta do your own homework. Know your shit or learn your shit and this place will be a sanctuary.

Watch display cases

I took this directly from their site “Please before calling for a watch part read the page on “Genuine Case Parts Ordering Information Page” if you’re asking about case parts. For movement parts and especially when it comes to pocket watch parts read “Watch Parts Ordering Problems In 1970? 100 Times Harder Now”. If you have read these pages, then we should be able to have a much more intelligent conversation on the phone when you call.” Damn.

Would love to have this poster.

The Seiko Watch Mod Edition II

Watch mod seemed to a be a bug I can’t shake off. Ever since the first mod, I’ve been collecting inspirations for a potential second mod. Especially after visiting Otto Frei, I got fired up. I wanted to build a minimal, modern and industrial looking watch inspired by Leica cameras and the brush metal style cafe racers. The Inspiration Here’s the base watch. The Seiko SNK807 (in navy) with 7s26 movement. I chose this as the base for its white day-date wheels, so technically I could’ve used any of the SNK800 series beside the black version. If you look at my first mod, you’ll see that I used the SNK809 for its black day date wheels.

The base watch—Seiko SNK807 (blue)

The major component for the mod is the dial. I bought this sunken dial from Otto Frei.

Otto Frei Sunken Dial with day date window

The original plan was to remove ONLY the black texts for a cleaner white dial and seconds marks.

First pass acetone. I removed more than anticipated. Shit.

I tried rubber alcohol, which didn’t work. Acetone did exactly what it intended. Removing the paint revealed the metal material, which sparked the idea of having raw metal look like Leicas.

The bare metal underneath the white paint. I liked it.

Cleaned up. The original dial and hands.

Removing original crystal

Mod list: Double domed crystal Stick hands (hour, minute, second) Metal sunken dial Black rubber strap The only rubber strap I had around, which was a bit too narrow for this 18mm lug.

first look

Bred + steel. Closer look

On wrist

Since the dial has no markings besides the day date window, the sunken dial texture really adds depth and intricacy to the design.

Seiko SNK mod with Canonet GIII QL

The simplicity of this mod really differentiates itself from my first mod.

Under the sun.