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007 Pilot Special
The story of a Seiko SKX007 Diver's watch learning to fly
Figure: Seiko SKX007K2, the starting point
The first thing to do is to open the watch - a hardwood block was turned into a case holder. Some drilling,
sawing, sanding, a spring and two old
bolts resulted in a beautiful tool.
Figure: Case holder
Figure: Case holder with SKX007
The idea was to create a 12h Bezel (Figure 1) with minute
markers all around. A bezel like this didn't exist so it had to be made in DIY fashion.
The first step was to draw the design by CAD.
Figure: 12h bezel
Next a mask (artwork) was printed for the photo etching process with a
laser printer on transparent foil. The base material for the
bezel was 1 mm Alucorex manufactured by Bungaard. It
has a presentisized layer over a black anodizided surface, which will
react to UV light. The printed mask is simply placed on top of the
and then exposed to UV light for 3-8 minutes, depending on the light
Figure: Alucorex with a blue
protective sheets and the printed artwork.
Then the exposed Alucorex is dropped into the developer and the etching
process starts. The developer will first develop the image of the
which will dissolve and then the developer starts to eat the
anodized surface away from those areas. Brushing the surface lightly
speeds up the process. After etching the parts need to be cleaned with
acetone to remove the presensitized
surface, as it will otherwise react with the cutting fluid used later
and your perfect insert will turn yellow.
Figure: Developing Alucorex -
the artwork just starts to show.
Now that the graphics are ready on the alu sheet, the bezel needs to be
machined to final shape. This is the tricky part - the chances are
pretty high that the alignment will be wrong. After several
attempts a simple fly fly cutter and a press
drill worked ok. The alignment of the pilot hole was the key to success.
Figure: Machining the bezel
with a fly cutter.
The edges of the bezel were smoothened with sandpaper until it was a
snap fit to the bezel.
Figure: Fitting the bezel
The hole for the lume dot was carefully enlarged, until the the dot fit
snugly into the recess from the bottom side. The inside edges were then
painted with black enamel.
The bezel itself was made bi-directional by bending the ends of the
bezel locking spring. This resulted in a click bezel without a locking
The case back was sterilized with a lathe.
Figure: Lathe work on the case
Figure: After the lathe
Next came a small trial to result in a finish called "perlage" or "engine turning".
The tools for the first try were a small cylindrical polisher from
Proxxon/Dremel and some universal polishing paste. Two wooden blocks
with some index markings were used to get everything aligned and
feed the case back step by step. The polishing paste wasn't a
success, as it polished just the machining pattern of the lathe and
didn't leave any marks of it's own. Next a coarse engine valve
lapping paste was tried and it did wonders - now the polisher was
leaving a tiny
cylindrical pattern of it's own, which mixed nicely with the lathe
Figure: Grinding the case
Figure: The result.
The SKX007 had a white day/date wheel, which was changed to a black
one. On the movement there is a metal plate holding the
date wheel, which is attached by three 1.4 mm slotted screws
and a tiny "Phillips" head screw. Removing the Phillips screw was
ratcher complicated - the smallest Phillips screwdriver in our local
watch tool shop was 1.5
mm - which was huge compared to it's intended counterpart. It was
made fit with the help of a small rectangular nail file, which was
used to make the tip of the screwdriver sharper. After numerous
careful tries the
tool finally fit and the screw gave up.
Figure: The tiny Phillips screw
with the modified screwdriver
The basis for the dial was the Bill Yao Sub model. One requirement for the project
was to place the crown on the left side, which required turning
the dial upside down. The dial feet were slightly unsymmetrical to prevent mistakes in
production -> off went the dial feet - snip!
Figure: Cutting the dial feet
Then a nice date window position was defined around 4 o'clock which
wouldn't interfere with the lume/markings. The space between the date markings
was assumed to be 360/31 deg, which turned out to be correct.
Next a mask was printed with the correct date position on two
transparent overhead foils. The dial was sandwiched between the foils
with some scotch tape. The purpose was to create a drilling and filing
jig. The foil also protected the face in case the tools slipped. The
position of the pilot drilling wasn't important, it just had to be
inside the date opening.
Figure: Dial with mask
Figure: Dial with pilot hole.
Then a special tool was prepared for the filing work - a sandstone was used to
polish one face of a
rectangular needle file completely smooth. The polished face of the tool enabled leaning it to one side of the
rectangular opening without cutting into it while working on the other edge.
edges of the date opening were painted with black enamel to finish the
Figure: The finished dial
Mounting the dial to the movement upside down was fairly
simple - two recesses of the movement holder were filled with three
layers of thin double sided
adhesive and the dial was carefully placed in position.
Figure: Adhesive to secure the
The original crystal was pushed out and changed to a Yao sapphire
crystal. During the process the chapter ring index markings were sanded
away and the ring polished, leaving it plain black.
The hands of choice were Yao "plongeur" type of hands with some
Figure: Plongeur hands, with
tail and lume dot already removed.
Figure: Modified plongeur hands
It didn't take long to notice, that the hands/dial combo don't work
together. The dial markings at
3, 6 and 9 overlap with the plongeur hour hand
with the result, that it suddenly looks optically like a very
looong minute hand turning the minute
into an hour hand.
The hands were therefore changed to Yao "MOD Sword" hands.
Figure: The hour hand turning
into the minute hand.
Initially the idea was just to do one watch, but in the end... well you
know. Here are the best 007 Pilot Special side dishes.
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