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  1. #1
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    Mikey2008's Avatar
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    Default Guide to building a 42mm Themed Franken

    Guys, thought it was time to update the excellent guide written by @edgematic on building a AP franken. I feel it's an injustice to have missing pictures and the scene has changed a little with J-Fac watches. This revision is a copy of the original text with a few updates, I hope @edgematic doesn't mind.

    I also get a few PM's with questions on frankens; What parts to use and where to find the parts? This thread will be about "How to build an AP 42mm franken?!" what you need and what to do.

    *Before I start, just want to mention I sourced all the pictures online so thanks to the people that took the pictures!

    1st step

    Building a AP franken is going to be expensive, plus you will need A LOT of patience sourcing the parts and waiting for the watch maker to complete the watch. Have a budget of $3.5k-4k and be sure you love the brand enough before you start!
    Investment wise, you can get back what you put into the build. 'Grade-A Dials' are getting rare and 'Perfect' gen hands are near impossible to find. Gen dial you can get back what you paid so long as you didn't over-pay to start!!

    Patience is key in this hobby! Collect 'the parts' that are limited run from member projects,,, for example you don't want to end up with a stock ETA date font.


    The current noob/JF reps are pretty good OOTB with a few minor flaws. A cheaper option for you would be to find a modder to perform the slim hand mod, thin inner tachy, install ETA disc and double-AR.

    Just for illustration, here's a comparison of gen versus modded rep.




    Dial & Tachy

    So you decide to move forward and take on the project. Take a look at the regular AP dials (safari/panda/rubberclad/classic baton). Limited edition and rare dials like; Tour-Auto, Bumblebee, Volcano will be more difficult to find so the price will be reflected, plus you also have to think ahead about hands to match the dial!
    Once you have a dial in mind, search the member-2-member part section, ebay, chrono-24, contact some grey dealers that sell AP, for example in diamond districts etc. Contact some workshops that customize watches, like diamond setting etc. Ask members that have previously built a franken,,, sometimes they may have a dial sitting in their spares box!

    Things you MUST NOT do when contacting people away from the forum:
    - DO NOT mention Franken builds! Price for gen parts are aleady inflated by the handful of dial sellers on ebay/chrono-24 because they know people are using the dials for Frankens.
    - DO NOT make offers to the sellers without researching the prices. Have a look at ebay dials sold on ebay to judge the market.

    ,,, if you contact Dr.Richter on chrono-24 do not try negotiate as he will ignore you!

    Be realistic about prices and just sit back relax if the price is too high, something will turn up eventually! I've monitored a white themes dial on ebay discounted from $1300 > $1200 > $900 > $750.

    The price for dials fluctuate with supply/demand. When there's little for sale prices will creep a few hundred bucks. The price you should pay for a dial = $650-950 and dial+tachy = $900-1400. {you will likely pay more for rare dials like: panda, volcano, bumblebee}.
    If possible, ask for close-up pictures to check for any print/paint flaws. Ask for picture of under-side to show dial feets are still intact.

    Check if your dial has a backplate, if not you can buy a aftermarket backplate or ask the modder to adapt the rep one.




    For the tachy, if you do not find a gen to match your dial do not panic. You could always ask the watch maker to adjust the rep tachy to fit.




    Movement

    The other essential piece for the build is a movement with correct chrono and date wheel spacing to match the dial, like the LWO 283. These are getting more expensive,,, once again people are paying asking prices so sellers add another $50 every time they have one for sale.
    Contact some watchsmiths, wholesalers etc. What you need is a Dubois Depraz module 2000 (DD-2000) on an ETA2892 movement. If they don't come with canon pinion or hour wheel, don't worry you can use Omega parts.

    As for the cyclops, you can use the rep cyclops or if a cyclops came with a movement you can use that as well. The rnrprof 2xAR cyclops is very nice upgrade.

    Part numbers for CP and hour wheel:
    Cannon Pinion = OME1140-243
    Hour Wheel = OME1140-250-H133
    *CP and HW cost ~ UK£ 40 + taxes, on CousinsUK

    The price of an LWO movement used to be $400 for a NOS movement. Expect to pay $400-$800 depending on condition and branding of donor watch.

    As for donor watches, old Tag Heuers, Baume & Mercier, Chopard, Longines, Etienne Schwarz, Girard Perregaux, Paul Picot, Hamilton used these movements. Ask around and you should be able to find this. Look on eBay, M2M sales and also your watch maker.




    Date wheel

    There are now several options for a gen style datewheel. Expect to pay $50-$100.

    - You may want to match the datewheel font to the 'series' on the caseback using the following guide:>>>> Matching Datewheel Font to watch series (diver/chrono)

    - Selecting the font to match the watch: >>>> DateFontMatching





    Anti-Reflective (AR) Crystal

    Double-AR crystal or not is a personal choice. The 'guys in the know' say AP uses a single AR coating.
    In my opinion, if you're using a noob base watch then definitely get a AR upgrade. If you use a J-Fac base then keep the rep crystal and only upgrade if you are a AR fanatic!



    Other gen parts

    Depending on the build you want, search for gen hands, bezel, crystal, pushers and crown. These are not essential for a build but nice to have. Before you buy gen pushers ask your watch maker if they can perform the work!

    The biggest difference between gen and rep hands is the shape. The center of the gen hands (hour and minute)is smaller vs the rep hands. The subdial hands do look similar, though the rep hands won't fit immediately on to the LWO movement.
    Alternative is aftermarket hands with slimmer pinions.

    The gen pushers and crown use a different rubber substance, a more durable kind of rubber. Off course the crown is much better than the rep but, I feel if you want a gen crown you also need gen pushers due to the same aging process of the rubber. The gen crown does work on a rep crown tube, at least when I tried, hehe. The problem with the gen pushers is that when installed they sit a bit too deep vs the rep. If they sit too deep it's not 1:1 as per gen, with the reps it's much closer imo.

    Price for hands: $400 - $600
    Price for pushers and crown: $280 - $450





    A gen bezel is different to the rep and needs a gen crystal gasket. If you are using a noob base watch you may need gen screws as the rep screws are slightly large at the hex end. JF screws may fit the gen bezel but don't take my word for it!!

    Donor watch

    The logic here is the buy the base watch that 'matches' your gen dial or has a feature you require, so if you don't have the gen tachymeter or hands your watch maker may be able to adapt the rep parts.

    - franken Panda, buy the rep panda if you need the tachy.
    - franken Navy themes buy the rep Navy, since the pushers are blue.
    - franken Blue baton, used a Navy for the blue pushers.
    - franken rubberclad, use a J-Fac base for the gen-like bezel construction.

    J-Fac or noob for base is something you need to decide. Downside of noob is 8520 numbering!

    Expect to pay $350-600 for base watch with rubber/leather strap.

    Case modding and Assembly

    For the final case modding and assembly have a budget of $700-1000 depending on your build options.
    Some options:- Service LWO-283 movement, Fitting gen pushers, Movement holder, Lume matching and hand lacquer, Broaching rep hands, Tachy sizing {rep tachy}, gold plating, etc.



    Things to consider: Painting date surround black to match gen look? do you want a movement holder?

    The standard work involves: Mill the mid-case, Relocate the crown tube to fit LWO283, Mill the caseback, Cut new groove for gasket, Bead-Blast & finishing. Assemble the watch to high standard.





    At the current time there are two great watch makers doing this work. Depending on logistics and wait time you make the call!

    Do discuss with your watch maker before hand. Firm-up the price on the build options you require. Send your parts and wait patiently!!




    Final Words of Advice

    "Do not approach this guide as a step-by-step process". If you are almost certain you want a Franken start collecting parts if you spot a bargain (movement, dials, tachy) and bag those 'member project' (datewheels, cyclops, hands).


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  3. #2
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    Great

  4. #3
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    Default

    @Mikey2008 , thanks for another great effort! Updating Edgematic post is quite a challenge in itself, so many thanks for taking the time to go through everything and bring it up to date. Only if those AP parts were more readily available...

    Cheers

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    Default

    Thanks mate. Appreciate the write up

    Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk

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    Default

    Mikey, as a follow up to your guide - I hope you wouldn't mind and would not take this as hijacking of your thread - I'm posting below something that originally was published on RWI a few months ago. It's a comparison of a franken and a gen RC AP - hope this will help everyone reading your (and Edge's) post imagine what the end result might be and find ways of improving on the shortcomings that are inevitable when you're building a custom watch. Hope this will be informative.

    Cheers

    P.S. For some reason I cannot copy/paste the photos, so I'm instead including a link to the RWI post (sorry for the inconvenience):

    https://www.replica-watch.info/vb/sh...so+franken+gen

  8. #6
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    TingelTangelTom's Avatar
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    Default

    Thank you @Mikey2008 , exactly what i was looking for. Unfortunately i found this thread 2 days after ordering my watch

    As for the LWO 283 Movement: This has the Dubois Depraz module and this is the Chorono-Module on Top of the 2892 and therefore the Chrono Pushers are above the crown - like Gen, right? and if i got it right, the location of the crow has to move deeper?

    Lets say, i have ordered a Rep that i will never find a gen dial. But i could do the movement-Modding. Is it possible to just change movement, without dial, and what would you say could be a price for this mod?

  9. #7
    Why So Serious?
    Mikey2008's Avatar
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    @tingeltangletom the case modding is expensive, you need to check with the watch maker. I wouldn't install a lwo without the gen dial otherwise the date window is shifted slightly to right. There's a few frankens for sale on the forums. What dial did you have in mind?
    Useful guides:
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    Spreadsheet for Date Wheel Font matching ref# >> Hidden Content
    Date wheel stock >> Hidden Content

  10. #8
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    Fantastic resource. Thanks for posting!

  11. #9
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    Is the movement holder a must for the LWO283?

  12. #10
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    Great guide. I just bought a Franken. But I want to build one for my own. Thank you


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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  14. #11
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    beautiful hobby, congrats

  15. #12
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    I am building Franken for AP 26170TI, but I can't find a suitable cyclops. Where can I buy?






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