The weird, wonderful and somewhat bewildering world
of high-end customised watches.

By Max Olijnyk APR 2015

When I first heard that people spend in excess of $10,000 on a Rolex watch, only to have them coloured matte-black by a third party for a few thousand more (voiding the lifetime warrantee in the process), I was a little bit disgusted. To be fair though, I’m not exactly the target demographic. So in the spirit of journalism, I contacted a few people who know about this sort of thing.

I emailed two brands that customise watches: Project X Designs in London and Geneva’s Black-Out Concept. I asked them questions like “Who is your typical customer?” and they trotted out some marketing verbiage that confirmed my worst fears. “They are successful people who demand the exceptional in everything,” said someone from Project X Designs. Fabrice Letellie, founder and CEO of Blackout Concept, meanwhile, offered this little gem: “Our clients are collectors in general, but many people also at the forefront of fashion.” I suppose I was asking for it.

I also spoke to Felix Scholz, editor of Time+Tide, an online publication concerned with all things watch-related. He was talking sense. “There’s a real groundswell of interest from men in Australia to lift their wrist game a little bit,” he told me over the phone. “Watches have moved from functional tools to status symbols.”

Scholz assured me that black watches have been a “thing” since the 1980s. “They were sort of one-off, a bit weird, you know,” he explained. “Then these companies started doing it with Rolexes.” Because that’s the thing, you see: Rolex don’t ... Subscribe to read this article in full

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