We’ve seen a lot of unique custom Rolexes over the years, be they blacked-out, draped in funky colours or even skeletonised. But even in the crowded world of high-end bespoke watch projects, the latest from Artisans de Genève is a standout. A sapphire-dialled Daytona? Yes please.
The Zinal Project as it’s called takes its design inspiration from the glacier of the same name, a 7km stretch of slowly-shifting ice in Switzerland’s Pennine Alps. To imitate the crystal clear ice, Artisans de Genève opted for both a sapphire glass bezel and, for the first time ever, a matching sapphire dial.
Both parts are entirely hand-finished, requiring ridiculous man hours and expertise to achieve. Better yet, they present a flawless view of the skeletonised movement inside, offering the kind of light and transparency we’ve never seen in any Rolex before. Completed with polarised counters and flame-blued hands, it’s a nice balance of readability and horological exhibitionism.
The calibre 4130 automatic movement itself has been overhauled, with the usual automatic winding system stripped out and replaced with an internally-developed barrel boasting a 72-hour power reserve. That of course as well as the painstakingly-precise skeletonization and immaculate finishing.
The case is far more pared-back in satin-finished stainless steel, but with the original Daytona pushers replaced with MK “Millerighe” versions for a more rugged look and feel, nicely suited to the mountains. The whole thing is finished on a transparent rubber strap to round off the icy look.
Once again Artisans De Genève has created a one-off Daytona that Rolex purists will likely decry as the end times, but that, let’s be honest, is incredibly cool. Whoever ordered this bad boy is going to be one happy customer.
Price & Specs:
Model: Artisans de Genève Zinal Project (Base: Rolex® 116520)
Case/Dial: 40mm diameter x 12.2mm thickness, stainless steel
Water Resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Calibre 4130 (modified), skeletonized, sandblasted, beveled by hand, automatic
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 72h (3 days)
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph
Strap: Rubber B® transparent vulcanised rubber
Price/availability: On request
More details at Artisans De Genève.