How to Fabricate a Custom Watch




This instructable will describe the process of making a custom watch.

Watch Case
- design 3D computer model
- print plastic model via 3D printer
- cast metal model of watch case via lost wax method
- additional assembly
Watch Face
- design watch face
- hand craft work
- install pre-made movement
- additional assembly
- hand craft work
- additional assembly

-casting bronze
-sheet metal
-watch crystal
-watch movement
-watch stem
-watch crown
-watch hands
-watch band pins (spring-bar pins)

*watch supplies can be purchased online from websites like
*casting bronze and metal supplies can be purchased online from websites like

-3D printer
-centrifugal casting facilities (or other lost wax metal casting facilities)
-oxy-acetylene torch
-dremel/drill/rotary tool
-various jewelers metalworking tools (saw, files, pliers, tap and die set, etc)


Step 1: Design and Print the Watch Case

Design your watch case in whatever program you find easiest. I went to school for animation so I know/used Maya, though it would probably be more accurate to use something more CAD oriented.

1. There are various sizes of watch crystal to choose from. Model accordingly and leave a lip for the crystal to rest on
2. The watch face attaches to the other side of the lip. Leave enough room for the cannon pinion of the movement and hands between the crystal and the face.
3. Make an indent for a corresponding tab on the watch face to secure into.

Print your model in plastic via 3D printer. Since I used the Cupcake CNC I built, the surface wasn't very even and additional clean up was required to achieve a smooth finish. Getting your model printed professionally may be an easier option

Step 2: Casting and Finishing the Case

- Attach sprues to the plastic model and invest it into a mold for burnout and casting.

- Clean up the metal cast and add finishing accents. Drill a hole for the watch stem, four on the back to tap threads into (to attach the back plate), and one hole in each of the lugs to secure the watch band pins

- Make a backplate with holes corresponding to the tapped screw holes in the case. It may be easier to drill the holes in the backplate first and then mark where the corresponding screw holes should be drilled into the case.

- Apply any patinas to the case if desired.

- Attach the watch crystal via epoxy or adhesive of your choice.

Step 3: Construct and Assemble the Watch Face

-Design a watch face and construct it. I made mine out of thin sheets of bronze, copper, nickle, and sterling silver hand-sawed out and torch soldered together with rivets to mark the hours. Make sure the face is thin enough that the hands will be able to fit on the pinions through a hole drilled in the face.

-Attach the movement and hands to the face without the stem, place the face in the case, then attach the stem and crown through the hole drilled earlier. Secure the movement and face with epoxy or an adhesive of your choice.

-Close up the back with the back plate and screws. You can either use an o-ring or some silicone caulk to seal the back to be water resistant.

Step 4: Fabricate and Attach Strap

-For the strap, I sewed together a couple of strips of leather. Note that you will need loops for the spring pins to attach through. The buckle is a piece of cast bronze made in the same process as the case. Pierce a hole in the strap for the buckle to secure through.
*Alternatively a pre-made strap can be purchased

-Attach the case to the strap via spring-bar pins

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    25 Discussions


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction
    I used the Hattori PC21HCP, it has a taller canon pinion so it doesn't require the watch face to be as thin. There's also the PC21.3XHCP that has an even taller canon pinion, which could be useful if the watch face needs to be thicker for some reason.

    That website also has movements that display date and/or day. Different brands require different sized watch hands so you'll have to match and choose the movement to the hands that you want. (not all hands come in all sizes)


    So basically, to do this we would need 3D designing software, casting equipment and materials etc.? Wouldn't this be expensive to create or are there sources online we could use? Any places for outsourcing? Would love to know more about gettting to this place to do this. Thanks!

    3 replies

    I have not tried to do this myself but I believe if you wanted you could use a computer program to design your watch then transfer the pattern to a piece of either carvable wax or plastic then there are places, perhaps jewelry stores in an area near you that would do a lost wax casting from your wax model. I know there was at least one in the town where I live. If you haven't anyone in your area that does this check out some of the lapidary magazines. Lapidary Journal has run ads for companies that do castings for individuals.

    I'm still a student so I used my school's equipment. There are a number of free 3D modeling programs out there that can be used. In terms of 3D printing there are websites like Shapeways that can print 3D models for you (even in metal), though that can be expensive. If you don't have access to metal casting equipment, you can spraypaint your plastic model with metallic spraypaint, but of course that will look a bit different and won't be as durable as metal. I did all of the handcrafted metalwork in my school's jewelery studio, there might be local educational facilities near you that you could look into.

    Very neat! I like the design of the case and band.

    Instead of sending the form to a bronze caster you could use bronze metal clay. It's fine bronze dust in an organic binder that you sculpt like modeling clay, dry then fire in a kiln to burn off the binder. Originally they made silver & gold metal clay, then copper, bronze, and more. Start up is about $200.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Sure, it's so easy! But, if instead of the 3D printer, use my flux capacitor? JA JA JA JA JA


    6 years ago on Introduction

    "invest it into a mold for burnout and casting"

    Half a sentence? Any chance for a little more detail than this on how to do the casting? Even just a link if you think it's really basic stuff.

    The final result looks great but I feel you've assumed a lot of prior knowledge from those reading your Instructable.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I used the "Caster's White Bronze Chunks." I've also used the "Ancient Bronze" which is a nice option if you're looking for a warm color.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is really beautiful. I might actually wear a watch if I had one that looked like this!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    It would cost me 5,000 dollars to put together a studio with the right equipment to make this watch. OR I can buy a watch for 100 bucks... hmmm.

    1 reply

    you are correct, custom fabrication can be very expensive. Luckily I'm still a student and can use my school's studios.

    In terms of raw materials this was a fairly inexpensive project. The bronze was $12/pound and I used less than a couple hundred grams, and all the watch components add up to just under $20.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice work , do you think i could adopt ( in your opinion ) with a Bradley or Westclox pocket watch ( wind up ) I have the insides but no case and am always looking for something different in a pocket watch but have never made one out of metal got a wooden one somewhere .....wonder if I could if my son would miss Mickey Mouse.......he he

    1 reply

    i'm pretty sure you could as long as you have the parts in working order. let me know if you do, i'd be curious to see how it works out. i haven't worked with mechanical movements yet, though i'd like to learn to build by own in the future.