Revisiting The Custom Rolex Watch Trend

A slightly modified Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116520, 6239 homage.
A slightly modified Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116520, 6239 homage.

I don’t know if it’s just me, or if there really are more and more boutique outfits modifying and customizing Rolex watches.

Most of us know about the Seiko modding community. Dials, hands, bezel inserts, etc., all made to change the look, feel, and utility of one Seiko model or another. And it’s no big deal for a shade tree watch mechanic to dig into an inexpensive watch they bought on eBay or Amazon for $25 to $200. Screw up big, and you’r enot out a lot of money.

But the same can’t be said for hacking (literally, in some cases) a Rolex. But there are guys out there who are doing just that. Tearing brand new Rollies apart and putting the cases in the mill to remove crown guards, shave lugs, and change bezel contours.

Last year we wrote about Tempus Machina and their homage to the much lusted after Rolex 6538. Basically, they take a current ref. 114060 and hack it by milling off the crown guards, drilling the lugs, re-machining the bezel ring, and reworking the dial and bezel insert. The result is a very convincing homage, albeit with a voided warranty (Tempus Machina effectively assumes warranty responsibilities).

And of course, there’s Bamford. They focus on refinishing watches with PVD and dial printing to have one-off pieces that Rolex would never produce (and in fact, Bamford has an uneasy relationship with the Mothership in Geneva because of their modding).

Now, about the time Baselworld 2016 started a few weeks ago, something came through my Facebook feed that caught my eye. It was a white metal Daytona with a ceramic bezel and a Paul Newman dial.

EmberWatchDaytonaHommage

YES!! The watch I’d wished Rolex had produced as their 50th anniversary piece had finally made it to metal – and social media!

Observers on Facebook were not kind, however. Several called it a fake and took the poster to task for it. Others were lukewarm on the mod/homage. But one commentator who knew the truth pointed out the photo was posted by none other than Marcus Ember of Ember Watches GmbH, a German customization house which works on several watch brands.

Not to be outdone by Tempus Machina, Ember has their own 6538 homage.

EmberHeritage6538

In fact, Mr. Ember and his boys will do just about anything you want done to your piece. For instance, Anish Bhatt, better known as WatchAnish on his social media accounts, can be seen wearing his 1 of 1 Daytona with the running seconds totalizer sub-dial redone as his logo.

EmberTributeWatchAnish

And there’s that ceramic-bezeled Paul Newman no-fake beauty too…

Now, what’s my checking account balance again?

(Image credit for all images: Ember Watches)

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