Make your Own Watch From Parts!

Watch Collectors, Watch Makers, and Watch Technicians probably all have the same dream.  Building a watch that is custom to you from parts that you can get on line or from watch supply distributors. 

Building your own watch is not as difficult as it used to be a few years ago.  Now that there are many different types of movements, cases, hands and dials available out there on the internet, you should be able to purchase the parts that go together, and assemble a watch that is close to your dream watch.

In this tutorial, I show you how to buy some parts on Ebay, and getting some other parts from supply houses and assembling a beautiful watch.  The watch that I’m making in this video is what I wanted.  However, there are enough different styles and shapes that you can make just about any watch from inexpensive suppliers, China, or other low cost sources.

Watch my build here...

Here is a list of the parts you need

For the build that I’m doing, I used a very inexpensive watch movement, that required me to go on the hunt for specific hands and a specific dial.  I’m going to try and make this list easy for you so that you don’t have to do too much work to aquire the parts.  

The parts I list here will be inexpnsive also, and available on Ebay as a great resourse to get them.  I’ll link to sellers that have good reputations also.  This is a bit more comforting for those of you who maybe just starting out.

  1. A watch Movement of your choice!  Lets use an ETA 2824 clone 
  2. A case of your liking.  I recommend 40 or 42 mm.  Click here for compatible cases.
  3. A Dial to fit.  Click here for a list of dials for 40mm.  Click here for a list of dials for 42mm cases.
  4. Hands.  Again, we will stick to hands for the 2824 movement.  Click here for a list
  5. A Band, stainless or one like mine.  Remember, a 40mm case has a 20mm band, and the 42mm case will require a 22mm band.  Click here for 22mm bands, Click here for 22 mm bands.
  6. Case Screws and clamps

All of these parts together, should cost less than $100.00.  Almost everyone has free shipping, and the only parts you’ll have to wait for are those that are coming from China.  I’ve had good luck, and wouldn’t expect too long of a delay.

What tools will you need

Of course, to do this, I would recommend a good set of watch tools.  If you don’t have any, then please check out my article on watch tools.  Click here for that article.

You will need the following tools to get your watch built.  This assumes, that of course, you will not be doing a full service of the watch.

  1. screw drivers (jewelers, watchmakers)
  2. Tweezers
  3. Movement Holder
  4. Cutters
  5. Case Opener/closer
  6. Hand Tools
  7. Flexshaft or dremel tool
  8. Gloves


Determine your Hand Size Needs

I’ve made it easy so far, because I’m using a very standard movement for your list, and it is easy to get hands for it.

However, if you need to order non-standard hands, like I had to, then check the movement description.  In the picture above, you can see the three hand sizes needed.  In my case, here is the hand size specifics…

  1. Hour hand is 150, or 1.5mm
  2. Minute hand is 100, or 1.00 mm
  3. and the second hand in my case, 17, or .17mm  

Once you know the proper hand size, you can order them to fit your watch movement as needed.  Be aware, sometimes Chinese movements are not built very well, and in my case, I had to substitute the second hand for a .20 mm hand.


Proper Assembly Order

When you have all the parts you need to build the best watch in the world, your custom watch, its time to get them ready and in line.

I follow the following order when I assemble a watch, wether it is new or after I have repaired or serviced it.

  1. Check the movement, that it is free of debris, running well, and if you have a mechanical watch timer, test the timing and make adjustments
  2. Fit the dial.  Make sure that the dial is going to work properly on the watch.  If the dial has many dial feet, you can expect that you are going to have to cut all but two out.  Make sure to leave the two dial fee that you need for your particular watch movement
  3. Adjust the dial washer.  This ring allows a small gap between the dial and the top of the watch movement.  This gap is needed so that no friction or damage is caused by the parts rubbing agains each other.  You may, like I did in the video, have to modify yours a bit.
  4. Set the dial and lock it in place.
  5. Making sure that the crown is in the watch movement, pull it out so that you can set the time.  Wind the watch forward so that the movement turns clockwise, and eventually, the date will change.  Stop at this point.  This is the Midnight position for the watch.
  6. Set the Hour hand and test that it does not interfere with the dial
  7. Set the Minute hand, and test set the movement so that you have no interference with the hands or the dial  
  8. Remove the step
  9. Set the second hand on the watch movement, and put aside
  10. Clean the case, change any gaskets if you wish
  11. Attach the case crown onto the proper stem.  You will adjust this later.
  12. Insert the movement properly into the case
  13. Insert the case ring, or spacer ring into the watch case surrounding the movement.
  14. Insert the crown/stem
  15. Using case clamps and screws, tighten the spacer ring to the case.  This should be able to lock the movement in place and allow for no play in the watch case.
  16. Fit the length of the stem.  Some adjustments may need to be made.  Work slowing, and if you are not sure how much to take off, take little bits at a time.  You will eventually get the right fit.  If you make a big mistake, don’t fret, stems are very cheap!
  17. Once the crown is set properly, put the back cover on the watch case, tighten down.
  18. Add the band of your choice.  Size it to fit
  19. Test the watch
  20. Enjoy the watch



Now that you’ve built your first watch, go and enjoy it.

As a watchmaker and jeweler, there is nothing more satisfying to me, then being able to enjoy something that I had created.  Even in this case, if I’m only ordering the parts and putting it together myself.

Thanks for watching and reading.  

5 thoughts on “How Make Your Own Watch from Parts on Ebay or Online!”
  1. Hi Peter Grande,

    My name is Adi. I came across your YouTube video, and I have a query.

    I own a ORIENT RA-AA0004E (Kamasu) Watch, the Screwdown crown of which was broken. After a lot of correspondences with various parties to get the part, and failed to obtain it; I decided to change just the case and crowns, by keeping all the other original parts. I have one case in my idea (link : ).

    Could you please let me know your suggestions on this?

    Thanks & Regards,

    1. Hi Aditya; Let me first say that I’ve used these cases for only about six months. They do hold up well. Keeping them water tight is more of an issue then not, and I would suggest replacing all the gaskets. That seems to have worked best for me. The cases themselves are made well. The included crown fits very good, but again, I replaced both the small flat gasket in the crown as well as the small case tube gasket to make sure mine seals better. I have not had any issues with the cases, and fitment seems to be very good with ETA and other movements. On a scale from 1 to 10, out of the box, they are about an 8.5. Gaskets bring that back up to a 9.0 However, you will find that the bezel will scratch over time. They are inexpensive to get however, so replacing them is easy.

  2. Hi Peter;
    Love the video by the way. It helped me sort out some things I want to do. You also showed me where to get parts.
    At the beginning of the video I noticed that the dial was blank, and then when your watch was finished the dial had an Italia sticker on the dial, which I thought set the watch off beautifully. When I’m building my watches, I want to add that touch also, Only with different logos. Where can I acquire stickers small enough for dials?

  3. i have looked at the link you provided for the case, and i cannot seem to find a 42 mm case like the one in your video. can you help point me to that case?

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