In the Community: Talking to Nick Harris from Watches By Nick
Mass production of consumer products offers various advantages. Among many things, I am able to purchase products at low prices, the quality of said products will be up to par with others of its kind, and wide availability makes any product a drive or a few clicks away. The advantages are plenty. However, this culture has eliminated something from the life of the consumer: Individuality. Even most of my watches, which I take great pride in, sit atop thousands of wrists around the world; I can’t say they’re exclusive to my wrist. Unfortunately, this is the downside of mass production: We all end up with the same products.
The watch community has responded to this lack of exclusivity and personalization by giving birth to a fast-growing subculture. Seeking individuality, wrist watch wearers have found comfort modifying watches (modding) and creating pieces that are unlike any other. While many watches and brands can be modified, Seiko’s interchangeable parts have allowed this subculture to flourish into what it is today.
Aside from needing the proper tools and knowledge to navigate through a watch, a modder must have the artistic gene to identify design changes that will blend well with the ambiance of the watch. The complete design (case, dial, lugs, etc.) must be taken into consideration when making alterations. Like is tradition in the watch industry, the devil is in the details. Watch mods are a dime a dozen, but finding a tastefully executed modification is truly uncommon.
Even with the wide availability of modified watches, Nick Harris has been able to differentiate his modding work and rise above the rest. He has earned the trust of the watch community; he has even gained the respect of many stubborn watch traditionalists.
Sometime in their lives, most watch lovers experience a moment that ignites a passion for watches. Call it a catalyst or being bitten by the watch bug; we have all been there. For Nick, this event was receiving his grandfather’s Omega Constellation with a missing crown and stem. His attempt to restore this heirloom taught him a very important lesson: Watches are complex machines that require expertise to handle. Nick was enamored, and it wasn’t long before he was disassembling Seiko movements and learning the ins and outs of these machines.
Nick’s work extends beyond modifying watches. He has ventured into hand engraving watch parts (bezels or cases), something rarely seen within our budget. Additionally, he is working with Mokume-gane (which translates from Japanese to “wood grain metal”) to produce truly unique pieces. It exemplifies individuality. The nature of this material yields a different pattern with each cut that is exclusive to the watch. His work with this exotic material speaks for itself. One thing is certain: you wont find any a watch with Mokume-Gane in our price range
The Traveling Watch
The Traveling Watch is a project initiated by Nick with the objective of involving the community and allowing us to wear and experience some of his work. This adventurous watch has made its way around the United States, soaking up a part of the life of each wearer. It is a prime example of Nick’s work, featuring a beautifully modded watch with an incredible hand engraved bezel. In a few months, this modified Seiko has been around the United States and has been a part the lives of members of the watch community.
The culmination of Nick’s talents can be found in the Orion Project. This is an all-original designed watch with some fantastic features. The Orion 1 comes in a compact 38mm case (excluding the crown) and includes 20mm wide (drilled) lugs, 100m water resistance, a blue antireflective coated sapphire crystal, and a Seiko NH35 (hand winding and hacking) movement. The most interesting design aspect of this piece is the crown. The Orion 1 comes with a whopping 9mm screw-down crown that is absolutely gorgeous.
The overall design of this piece is conservative and can serve well as a dress watch. However, the specifications of it allow it to endure conditions reserved only for sport or tool watches. The result is an incredibly versatile watch that can be used for any event.
Nick has come a long way from the young man struggling to restore his grandfather's Omega. In just a few years, he's earned the reputation of a respected and knowledgeable horologist. He plans to continue down this path and will soon be a full time student in watchmaking school. Big things are on his horizon; make sure to stay tuned for his future projects.