For those unfamiliar with the work of Artisans de Genève, they are one of the best known luxury watch customisers in Switzerland, altering high-end watches according to the tastes of their owner. One of their most commonly requested customisations is the Rolex Daytona (much to the chagrin of purists), which they customised last year in the Shades of Blue and Lake Maggiore editions. They’ve returned to the Daytona again for their latest project, the sapphire clad “Arolla”.
As with all customisations by Artisans de Genève, the inspiration comes from a private client. In this case, that client is an adventurer who specialises in exploring glaciers, with their favourite glacier being one located in Switzerland called Arolla. As such, the brief was to create a Daytona ref. 116500 in the same shade of blue as the ice of Arolla and also to capture an essence of its translucent nature.
There was much experimentation but ultimately the solution was to use sapphire crystal. There are 36 individual sapphires embedded in the bezel using invisible gem settings (more on that here) and the dial itself is produced in sapphire, allowing you to see the 4130 movement below. That’s a big tick for blue and a big tick for translucency. However, to really sell the impression of glacial ice the visible elements of the calibre have been given a rough texture, evocative of powdery snow or the icy walls of a crevasse.
More details at Artisans de Genève.