Changing the Bezel and Bezel Inserts is an important improvement on Seiko dive watches such as SKX, Turtles, Sumo, and more.
It is easy and not invasive. You do not have to open your watch and expose the movement. Aside from that, the modification can preserve Seiko’s DNA. It can also revamp the visual appearance of the dive watch.
Also, the aftermarket parts of Seiko dive watches like SKX007 and SKX013 are steadily growing in several varieties.
This tutorial shows a detailed demonstration of changing the Bezel and Bezel Insert. This is one of the most popular modifications of Seiko watches.
Changing the Bezel and Bezel Insert
Step 1: Removing the Bezel
Note: Removing the Bezel is the toughest part of the modification.
This type of Bezel snaps in and out. It has a protruding ring that surrounds the watch case. It allows the bezel to snap onto the watch. The most common bezel on dive watches is uni- or bi-directional rotatable.
Snap Back Case Opener Tool and a Dremel vice are used in this step. To avoid damaging the watch or tool, a strong solid and sharp prying tool is important. A vice can hold your watch while you work the bezel out with your two hands.
A vice will hold the watch in position. You need to protect the bezel since it is the first point of contact when clamped. To avoid scratching the crystal, cover it with a plastic crystal press die before clamping the watch. If you do not have a plastic die, you can replace it with any item. Once clamped, it will allow easy rotation and enough space for removal.
The bezels of SKX007 and SKX013 have teeth protruding below it. When you slightly rotate and pull apart, you will see the teeth of the bezel. You have to avoid hitting the bezel teeth with sharp prying tools when you insert them in between. So, you have to lift it high enough to insert prying tools below the teeth. By doing this, you will have enough force to pull open the bezel.
Once the tool is inserted between the bezel teeth and the watch frame, you can remove the bezel by twisting the sharp prying tool. The removal of the bezel might be tough when the watch is new. But after a few removals and placement, it will get easier.
When the bezel is out, you will see a bezel click spring in the watch case frame. Take extra care to it, since it is the one responsible for the rotation of the bezel. Without it or if there are dents, the bezel will not rotate freely.
Tip: Rotate the bezel click spring a few mm. It will lift the bezel up a little and will help in the easy removal of the bezel.
Important: When you pry open the bezel from the watch case use sharp objects only in between the lugs to avoid cosmetic damages.
This type of bezel holds the case by friction. It is non-rotatable and its hold onto the watch case is extremely tight. Examples of this are Rolex Datejust fluted bezel and SNK80X series bezel.
The modification for a friction-based bezel is invasive since the crystal sits on the bezel. Aside from that, when you remove the bezel, the entire dial, hands, and movement will be exposed. Seiko dive watches are an exception to this.
This requires an additional tool called watch bezel remover tool.
Rotate the knob of the watch bezel remover tool to place the watch case face down and flat with the lugs sitting on the four angled blades. Turn the knob until the blades go into the gap between the bezel and the case. Continue turning until the bezel is pushed down from the case.
If the bezel does not drop off, you can use a snap back case opener tool. This will separate the bezel and the case.
Removal of a friction-based bezel can be extremely tough, so you need to be extra careful. You can use a hammer to separate the bezel and the watch case frame. With the hammer, gently hit the snap back case opener tool that is placed in-between the gap. Take in mind that this can only be done by experienced people.
Step 2: Removing a Bezel Insert
There are several approaches to removing the bezel insert. It is held in place by a double-sided adhesive tape. The adhesive tape can be removed physically or chemically.
Insert a sharp pen knife between the bezel insert and the bezel. Move it around the bezel insert track to break the adhesive tape. This, in turn, will loosen the bezel insert from the bezel which would also ease in removal.
Important: A metallic bezel insert tends to bend easily and ceramic bezel inserts are brittle. So, be extremely careful when removing the bezel insert.
Step 3: Fitting a New Bezel
A crystal rack press similar to Bergeon 6173 is needed in this step. If you do not have a crystal rack press, you can use an economy crystal press. With the use of crystal rack press, it is easy to fit any type of bezel into the watch case frame.
Use a correct size die to cover the bezel and apply the right pressure. If you hear a click sound, this means that the bezel is fitted in. All snap-based bezel produces a click sound. But, not all friction-based bezels produce a click sound.
Tips: To avoid scratches on the bezel, put a plastic die when pressing it. For the friction-based bezel, it will be tough to fit the bezel into the watch case frame if the crystal press does not provide a high leverage force.
For bezel that requires bezel insert fitting, it is recommended that you fit the bezel without the bezel insert. This will give better alignment of bezel insert.
Important: For the snap-based bezel, make sure that the bezel click spring is properly positioned in the watch case before pressing the bezel down.
For the friction-based bezel on dive watches, make sure that the bezel click spring is removed. The bezel click spring is not needed since it is non-rotatable.
Step 4: Fitting a New Bezel Insert
After fitting the bezel into the watch case frame, clean the bezel’s inner surface where the bezel insert fits. You can use a cotton swab with a 70% ethanol solution.
Tips: If there is adhesive residue from the removal of the bezel insert, remove it by scraping it with a penknife or using an adhesive remover.
Next, put the double-sided adhesive into the back of the bezel insert. Gently rotate the bezel clockwise and counter-clockwise to feel the firm block. Place the bezel insert with its 12 o’clock marker lateral the Seiko dial and chapter ring markers.
Watch Tools Required:
Whether you want to fix your watch or modify it to your taste, you will need some tools.
- Crystal Press – Used for easy fitting of the bezel into the watch case. An example of this is the Bergeon 6173 Rack Press. You can also use an economy version of a crystal press.
- Ethanol Solution – Used for cleaning oil and dirt. You can use a 100% ethanol solution, but be extra careful since it is highly flammable.
- Snap Back Case Opener – Used to pry open the bezel from the watch case. Make sure to get one that has a great area to grip.
- Vice – It holds the entire watch in place. An example of this is Dremel Vice. You can use another similar vice, but make sure to put paper or rubber to avoid scratching the watch case.
- Watch Bezel Remover Tool – It removes friction-based bezel. Make sure that you get the high-quality one because its blade may damage the bezel and the watch case.