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Okay, maybe calling a DIY automatic watch kit LEGO is over simplifying the art of watchmaking, but hear me out.

When you get a new set of blocks you first visualize in your mind the elaborate final product, then open the box only to find individual blocks that look nothing like the final product. Yet you proceed with the confidence that if you follow the instructions carefully, you will definitely be rewarded with a final product that looks like the picture on the box.

That is exactly how I felt when I received the D02 Diver's Watchmaking Kit from DIY Watch Club (I'll refer to it as the DWC-D02 from here on out).

Admittedly, I do know that there is a lot more involved in building a watch, and it definitely demands more fine motor skills than pushing plastic blocks together. Can a long time watch admirer, first timer watchmaker really succeed in putting a watch together? Let's dive in to find out.


My First DIY Watch Making Kit

Unboxing the DWC-D02 DIY Kit, you'll first be greeted with a black nylon pouch that contains all the tools and watch components for the watch. Since I commenced reviewing this DIY Kit, DIY Watch Club also made available a pro tool set with a box upgrade that contains even more tools.


Firstly taking out all the watch components, they are individually packed (Are you feeling a LEGO vibe yet?) and slotted in designated pockets in the zip up nylon bag. Contained in each box you have the Seiko NH 35 movement, the Stainless Steel case with pre-installed Sapphire Dome Crystal and crown, the DWC D02 Black Fume dial with date window, the Diver Hands with BGW9 (white body, blue glow) Japan Superlume, and last but not least the Black 22mm FKM Rubber Watch Band.


The tools take up the rest of the compartments in the nylon pouch, consisting of the expected tools needed for the assembly process like screwdrivers and tweezers. But much of the tools are dedicated to ensure your watch assembly is completely free from dust and fingerprints, such as the hand blower, Rodico and finger cots. Keeping the assembly of the watch completely dust and fingerprint free is one of those things that you don't really think about until you do it yourself, and it makes you appreciate the watch assembly process more than before.

The tool kit includes everything - except one item: the case cushion. This comes in handy (I later found out) when you're installing the hands onto the movement, as you need something firm to hold the movement while delicately pushing on tiny hands firmly with the hand setting tools.

The case cushion is one of the extra tools included in the Pro Tool Upgrade, but for me I actually just used a dense packing foams in place of the professional cushion, and I still ended up installing the hands without a hitch.


Video Instructions made for the Phone

Seeing so many unfamiliar tools can be daunting, but thankfully, DIY Watch Club made very detailed, step-by-step video instructions. It's a very smart move that saves the user from any sort of guess work looking at diagrams on paper instructions, while completely doing away with any need for extra paperwork.

The video instructions are so integral to the assembly process in fact, that in the assembly tool kit, there is even a foldable phone stand that lets you prop up the phone while it plays the instructional video during the watch making process.

The whole process of putting together the DWC-D02 took me around 2-2.5 hours, which lines up with DIY Watch Club's estimation of 2 hours.


Difficulty and the Risk of Failure

Was there ever a risk of failure throughout the watch making process? It's a definite 'yes', which can sound quite intimidating. Breaking any component of the watch can mean putting in more money and time to order replacement parts. However, for me, the risk of failure made the process a whole lot more interesting. It makes you emotionally invested, drives you to concentrate intensely, and the reward of completion of course tastes so much sweeter.


The step that was the most difficult has got to be the setting of the hands - as candidly warned by the instructions. Since the hands are so small and fragile, they can be easily bent, or the set angle wrong so that they end up hitting each other. Understands this, DIY Watch Club actually includes not one, but two of each of the second, minute and hour hand, so that the second chance is always there if you end up needing it.

One of the things that really ticks me off in watches is when indices on the watch don't completely align with the bezel, or the hour/minute hand doesn't align perfectly with the indices. By risking putting the watch together myself, I was given full control to be as OCD as I want with this, and I'm proud to say that I've now got a watch put together myself, where everything aligns perfectly.


The D02 Diver: an Excellent All-round Watch

After over two hours of intense concentration, I ended up with one of my favorite diver watches of all time. So much so that I've been neglecting the rest of my watches for the last month or so, using the DWC-D02 as my everyday carry.


While not overly flashy, the DIY watch is not too minimalist either. The black fume dial has a sunray reflective design that is coupled with an inverse triangle index at 12 o'clock, date window at 3 o'clock, classic diver round minute indices and double stick indices at 6 and 9 o'clock positions.

The bezel has a knurled edge, and the inlay a white on black brushed metal finish. The red indices from 15-20 is a small but nice touch that gives the overall design that extra character.


I found the design of the DWC-D02 versatile and it wears well with both casual attire and with a full business suit. What's great about the DWC-D02 is also its size. The 41mm case measures 13mm thick, and has an overall convex profile, causes minimal obstruction and rarely catches on shirt cuffs.


Seiko Movement, Custom Rotor, and Alternative Strap

Being quite used to Miyota automatic movements, I found the NH 35 movement to be significantly different. The second hand sweep is smoother than what I'm used to, and the resistance on the crown when winding feels weightier.

DIY Watch Club also has a custom rotor option, where you can make your own personal engraving that can be seen through the exhibition case back. Generally, I steer clear of tacky practices like engraving my own name on devices. However in the case of the DWC-D02, since it was assembled by my own hands, the engraved name is more like the artist's signature on a painting.


If I was forced to choose one thing to change about the DWC-D02, I'd say it is the strap. There's nothing wrong with the FKM Rubber Watch Band but personally I found it to be too thick for my taste. I switched out the standard issue band for Spinnaker's Flat Edged Rubber strap and I found it to be a better match.


The thin strap even has a chamfered edge that matches the lugs on the DWC-D02 case, and the wave shaped grooves on the back fits the Diver theme while keeping the wrist cool.


Final Verdict

The pandemic and lockdown is the perfect reason to pick up a new indoor hobby. For horologists, the DIY Watch Club watch making kit is the perfect mini project where you'll end up with an excellent new watch for your collection, as well as the tools needed for future watch mods and basic servicing.


For its beginner friendly video tutorials, well-thought-out tool kit and well-designed and quality built automatic watch, we're awarding the DWC-D02 Watch Making Kit the IBTimes' Best Product Badge.

David is a tech enthusiast/writer who is often on the move, but since the lock-down is on a mission to explore gadgets to improve his 'home work'. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Working From Home (WFH).