Customising your watch can be as simple as swapping the strap to give it a new lease of life. Or you could commission Artisans De Genève to spend countless hours experimenting and researching how to alter your watch down to the finest detail – creating a totally unique piece for you. That’s what they did with the Sea Shepherd and now they’ve done it again with a new challenge called The Shades of Blue.
With any modification the starting place is always the base watch, which in this case is the Rolex Daytona Ref. 116520. The Daytona is the ultimate sports chronograph and is a frequent subject of modification but what’s nice here is that the client’s brief is relatively unintrusive on the overall design. They just wanted it produced in their favourite shade of blue and given vintage features.
Adding the vintage features was probably the simplest part of the challenge because it just required swapping out the original pushers for millerighe style ones (a vintage type of pusher with fluted decoration) and adding a Bakelite bezel. It’s amazing how those small changes instantly alter the overall appearance of the watch and genuinely give a vintage charm and appeal to the piece.
Getting the shades of blue right, on the other hand, required meticulous experimentation with pigments and materials. Artisans De Genève’s artisans contacted numerous experts in fabrics and manufacturing, from silks to ceramics, to explore the ways colour is implemented in other industries and utilise those learnings in watchmaking.
The result is a matt shade of blue that has a deep intensity, fittingly given the moniker ‘intense blue’. This new shade is the capstone of the watch and features prominently on dial and bezel. However, the Daytona has a tri-compax layout and the subdials also need colour, for which Artisans De Genève have used a sky blue that differentiates them from the dial.
Blue is more than just skin deep with the Shades of Blue Challenge and finds its way onto the movement, visible through the display caseback. It’s the calibre 4130 a stalwart of the Daytona, in keeping with the client’s vintage desires. It’s been modified with a new hand-made bridge, bevelled edges and exquisite finishing but the most eye-catching element is the gold rotor, which has been flame-blued by hand.
As per the client’s request the watch is completed with a blue alligator strap, rounding out the vintage look, fitted with a custom-made and engraved folding clasp.
All timepieces modified by Artisans De Genève are private commissions, so we’ll likely never know the full price, but considering that you have to provide the base model yourself, the minimum cost is the price of a Rolex. However, now that they have a new selection of shades of blue in their repertoire you can request any of them for your own commission.
And why wouldn’t you? Blue is one of the most elegant and refined colours in horology, whichever shade you go for.
Price & Specs:
Model: Artisans de Genève ‘The Shades of Blue Challenge’ (Base: Rolex ® 116520)
Case/Dial: 40mm diameter, stainless steel, blue matte dial with sky blue counters, blue bakelite bezel and 21-carat gold flame-blued rotor
Movement: Calibre 4130, automatic, 44 jewels, Superlative Chronometer (COSC + Rolex certification after casing)
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 72h
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, central chronograph seconds, 30 minutes counter, 12 hours counter
Strap: Navy alligator leather with a steel folding clasp, with an additional stainless steel bracelet
More details at Artisans de Genève.