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I want to build a franken AP - HOW TO? AND WHAT PRICE?-

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Since I get quite a lot of PM's with questions about frankens I decided to write this thread. An AP franken is something special so it deserves it. hehe
Basically this thread is about "How to build an AP franken?!" what you need and what to do.

1st step

Since it's quite an expensive build, think about it, if you want it. If you are happy enough with the current reps, then don't do it. If you want something special closer to gen and you have the cash to spend, you are passionate about AP and/or you love the pieces then do it.

Investment wise, I'm pretty sure you can get back what you invested. Parts are rare, the parts price alone you can sell and get your investment back. The case will go lost since only a franken AP uses this case.

The 1st step I propose is thinking about the project. Also bear in mind, this is a special project and it needs time!!! My ultimate franken project took about 1,5 year to get completed. Don't get stressy, find everything you want to get your own personal build. Patience is needed!!!

2nd step

If you decided to move on and take on the project then take a look at the regular AP dials, a limited edition dial is very very hard, nearly impossible to get. Once you have a dial you like then look for one. Ask around, contact some grey dealers that sell AP, for example in diamond districts etc. Contact some workshops that customize watches, like diamond setting etc.


The price you should pay for a dial and tachy should be between $700 - $1200 (MAX!). I have now bought 7 dials in total, and these are the prices I have paid.

3rd step

Once you bought a dial and tachy you need to look for an LWO movement. These are harder to get these days. Contact some watchsmiths, wholesalers etc. What you need is a Dubois Depraz module 2000 on an ETA2892 movement. If they don't come with canon pinion or hour wheel, don't worry, those are available to order. As for the cyclopse, you can use the rep cyclopse or if a cyclopse came with a movement you can use that as well. A few years back Uwe (finedd) made some cyclopses with a blue-purple AR coating, those are good as well. My advise, try to get one with that coloured coating. Gens came with purplish AR hue.



The price of an LWO movement used to be $350 for a NOS movement. Right now I bought 3 movements, fully serviced with cannon pinion and hour wheel + cyclops at $550, sold them to some great members at the same price. Those came from 3 donor watches.

As for donor watches, old Tag Heuers, Baume & Mercier, Chopard, Longines, Etienne Schwarz, Girard Perregaux used these movements. Ask around and you should be able to find this. Look on eBay as well, there was a set of 10 pieces Etienne Schwarz LWO's sold somewhere below $4.200. Divide it by 10 and you get a price below $420 per piece, canon pinion, hour wheel and cyclopse included.

4rd step

I would propose to search for a datewheel I made, 1:1 to gen spec, unfortunately those are sold out but maybe some members have a spare one. Price for a new one was $61 shipped


5th step

Depending on the build you want, search for gen hands, bezel, crystal, pushers and crown, this will be the hardest part imo for the search. This is not needed for a build, if you don't need this, skip this step. Basically 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 look similar, though the rep hands won't fit immediately on to the LWO movement. This needs a slight modification.

The gen pushers and crown use a different rubber substance, a more durable kind of rubber. Offcourse 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: $345 - $555
Price for pushers and crown: $280 - $450



A gen bezel is different than the rep, it needs a gen crystal gasket as well and gen screws too as the rep screws are slightly too large. A gen bezel is quite expensive. I bought 2 bezels, 1 second hand between $140 - $345 and 1

6th step

buy a donor watch, the rep $518


7th step

This step is not necessary at all! But I try to offer a guideline with steps to get closer to gen. This step includes the case milling to the correct thickness as per gen. The cost is $550.




8th step

Once all of the above is done you will need to search for a competent watchmaker to perform these mods. Discuss the work on before hand, discuss the price and try to arrange a price on beforehand.
I am open about the price I paid my watchmaker for the work, pricing was €300 for the modding work (drilling crown tube hole, shaving caseback, making movement ring, adjusting movement to COSC norms, re-engrave caseback, complete assembly) and shipping with UPS next day delivery was included.

This to give an idea.

9th step

Enjoy wearing your piece... :)


TOTAL PRICE OF A PROJECT LIES BETWEEN USD 3.795 - 4.850. From my experience.

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Nice write up, thanks!

I miss however the step to get the USD 3.795 - 4.850 ;)

Maybe I'll rob the boutiques AGAIN...

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Thank you sir, that certainly spells out very clearly what it requires to build one of those beautiful super frankens. one thing you said that I agree with is about getting your money back for the parts., I woud expect as parts scarcity continues, it would be fairly easy to recover the cost's of the dial, Tachy ring, movement, hands crown/pushers and if you used a gen bezel/crystal that as well. However what needs to be mentioned is what will not be recovered. You mentioned the case, which you could probably sell, especially if someone happens to be building one similar to the one you are selling. What you will take a big hit on is  the cost of the modding. you are going to lose a big part of the money spent modifying the case (550.00USD) the cost of Lume, AR etc. as well as the considerable amount you spend on postage. getting the watch and parts to you from the various sellers, then postage getting the watch to the modder and back to you.


I have done a few Rolex "Super frankens" a couple to the tune of around 3400.00 -3800.00 USD, and I always advise folks, this is not for the faint of heart. It also needs to be well thought out before hand. You need to set a budget, and try to stick to it as best you can, and for all practical purposes, you need to assume that should you need to sell the watch for whatever reasons, you may have a very, very difficult time selling it intact at that price point, and you may end up breaking it up and selling the parts, just to recover some of the costs.


I don't want to come across as a doomsayer, but lots of times folks see beautiful projects like your AP's or some of the vintage Rolex Daytona reps that are all genuine except the case and they decide that they want to build one just like them, rush off and start buying stuff, only to find out later, they don't have everything they need, they paid way to much, or they realize that they really don't want to build this particular watch, or they run out od money, and first thing you know, you have a partially completed watch or a sack of parts for sale on the sales forums.


I think that you are doing the community a real service by posting  this thread, very much appreciated.

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Buddy, I totally agree with you. What you loose is indeed the case and mod work but compared to the total cost it's not a big loss. Next to that I think a Franken ap will get sold fairly easy if it's priced fair.

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If  I had the funds and it were for sale, I sure would buy it!! It's super Another thing that  I don't think most folks appreciate with these builds, is the thrill of the hunt. It's really gratifying to be able to look at a watch on your wrist, and say ,WOW, you know I spent 1.5 years, and no telling how many hundreds of hours scouring the earth for the parts to make this watch just exactly like the one's  I see in the AP boutique. But this one is mine, because it has my soul in it !!

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Yes thank you very much for your informative and detailed write up.

This should be stickied IMHO! :thumbs:

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Bravo for the ap frankenpedia

Its good

And for the record its all tru not cheap

Take care buddy

Sent from my GT-N7100 using Tapatalk 2

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Does anyone know where I can source a set of hands for a gen AP ROO 2226 movement.

Thanks in advance!

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