After picking my jaw off the ground, I was surprised by my wide-eyed delight with Artisans de Genève’s irreverent take on the Rolex Daytona replica. I was surprised because, truth be told, this is not a model I am particularly enamored with. I’ve had my fill of all the endless fawning over vintage Daytonas. In fact, I don’t even find the latest Daytona particularly attractive. But this all changed the moment I lay my eyes on the Shades of Blue Challenge Project from Artisans de Genève, the iconoclastic purveyors of luxury customization. How dare they make me fall in love with a Swiss movement replica Rolex Daytona!
I’ve been both shocked and titillated by some of their previous projects like the Pirlo skeletonized Submariner, but this? This is the best, most understated piece of work ADG has done, and has made me fall for a Daytona, something I never thought would happen. I mean, I’m not even a chronograph geezer, preferring a maximum of two registers if you must.
Essentially, the back-story here is that a client had the nerve to leave a luxury fake Rolex ref. 116500 Daytona in the itchy fingers of Artisans de Genève with one task at hand: to find the perfect shades of blue. “Blue is my favourite colour because it conveys refinement and excellence, values that I strive for in my day-to-day,” the client Mr B.S explained. “When I approached ADG to define and create my ultimate blue, I thought that this was an impossible task”.
ADG took their task very seriously. To find their perfect hues, they searched far and wide, talking to artisans making everything from silk to hand-glazed ceramics. The care and craft of the execution has, for me, created new-found respect for both the Daytona, and for how much a mere colour can change everything. It might seem slightly mad to spend about $30,000 USD on top of the high quality copy Rolex Daytona’s retail price. Then again, at what price perfection?
With a matte dark blue dial, recessed sky blue snailed registers with electric blur glimmers, and that perfect bakelite bezel, this to me is how beautiful Rolex replica could have made the Daytona. The crown at 12, along with each applied rhodium-plated indice, simply take on a more regal flavour on the silky blue background. The icy cool sky-blue of the registers is a delicate tonal match to the dial, with dark blue pointers making them as legible as they are delicate.
The 4130 self-winding mechanical movement has been fully disassembled, bevelled and polished by hand, with a handmade new balance bridge. The deliciously blue rotor is solid 21K gold, traditionally flame-blued giving us yet another flash of rich colour through the Artisans de Genève sapphire caseback.
Rather than a bracelet, it’s now perched on a soft alligator strap that’s colour matched to the dial. The small details show in the altered pushers paired with the smooth case sides, making it a time capsule to a 6263 from a parallel universe where deep blue was Rolex’s favoured chronograph tint. It’s flawlessly executed and, to me, results in what is horological end-game material.
Have a look into the weird and wonderful world of Artisans de Genève, and you’d be surprised by the range of emotions at what is much more than mere personalisation. Don’t be surprised if you start off with scepticism, then break into a giggle on the way to simply falling head over heels in love.