When is a Rolex not a Rolex? That is one of the questions raised by the cottage industry that exists around modifying the Swiss brand’s watches to combine the prestige of the name with something unique and personalized. The best of both worlds? Not everyone thinks so, but one of the best companies walking that tightrope and providing this service is Les Artisans de Genève. Once again using the iconic Rolex Daytona as a canvas, this time they have collaborated with Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello to make a Daytona unlike any you’ve seen before.
Regardless of how you feel about 1) “defacing” a “work of art” like the Daytona, 2) the aesthetics of the result, or 3) spending tens of thousands of dollars to do so, the brand’s skill and craftsmanship is readily evident. According to Les Artisans de Genève, 260 hours of work went into this Daytona’s modification. The list of modifications and tweaked details is extensive, most immediately obvious being the skeletonized dial, but the idea is for the watch to remain a Rolex Daytona in some sense. Barrichello’s requested modifications take the Daytona’s motorsport association a degree further with a sporty, technical theme.
The brand enumerates the full extent of modifications on its website, but they touch nearly every element of the steel Rolex Daytona reference 116520. Not only has the case been refinished, the bezel and hands replaced, multiple elements treated with a black DLC coating, and much more, but the Rolex 4130 movement inside also got the works. As it is visible from both the dial and case back, the movement has been skeletonized and every part — down to the screws — has been refinished by hand.
They also threw in a sporty customized rubber strap with matching highlights from the Rolex aftermarket strap maker Rubber B. If it all weren’t outrageous and exclusive enough, you can’t buy this customized watch, but Les Artisans de Genève quote the price of their Rolex Daytona “La Barrichello” watch as the equivalent of around $51,080 in USD.
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