If you are a regular reader of MONOCHROME, you should now be familiar with Artisans de Genève, a watchmaking company that offers customization services for private customers. But they are not your typical watch customizer… Don’t expect a black coating or diamonds on the bezel. What Artisans de Genève does is far more complex. We’ve already been impressed by the “La Blausée”, a hand-wound and openworked take on the Daytona. Recently, a rather special customer came to them with a request… “make a skeleton version of my own Submariner,” he said. The result is named the “Andrea Pirlo Project”.
Andrea Pirlo is one of the greatest football players of all time. 570 games as a senior player in teams such as Brescia, Inter Milan, A.C. Milan and the Juventus, 116 games in the National Italian team and a career that lasted from 1995 to 2017. What fewer know is that Andrea Pirlo has “always been passionate about watchmaking. Very early, I started collecting watches. Through time and timepieces, I have learned to value and recognize the know-how and the countless crafts that stand behind a timepiece. I care about details, and mostly the finest and hidden ones.” A few years ago, being aware of the work done by Artisans de Genève, he came to them and asked to revisit his favourite Rolex model, the Rolex Submariner 114060 No Date, and entrusted the customizer with a special project; to make a skeleton version of his own Submariner.
The result of two years of work, this Artisans de Genève “Andrea Pirlo Project” is once again a showcase of watchmaking know-how. While most of the customization companies are focusing on the visual side of the watch – coating of the case, changing the colour of the dial, adding some (not-so-elegant) diamonds – Artisans de Genève is playing on a different field. Certainly, the design of Andrea Pirlo’s Submariner has been (slightly) modified but the most important part of Artisans de Genève’s work is on the movement… Well, what’s left of the movement, to be precise.
Andrea Pirlo wanted the movement of his personal Rolex Submariner to be skeletonized – and not just a bit but fully opened, with most of the material of the plate and bridges being removed. It required craftsmen from all over Switzerland to achieve the modifications on the iconic Calibre 3130. Each component is entirely dismounted, cut and bevelled by hand, polished and brushed – decorated in the traditional haute-horlogerie way – and the movement is entirely coated in dark ruthenium. The finishing and decoration are rather spectacular, with multiple sharp internal angles and an ultra-light balance bridge, which once again shows great skills.
This openworked movement reveals most of the parts of the Rolex 3130 base, knowing the red reversing wheels, the entire gear train or the blue Parachrom hairspring. To offer an even better view of the movement, Artisans de Genève has fitted the “Andrea Pirlo Project” with a newly-designed oscillating weight in tungsten, later gold-coated and engraved with the inscription “Il Maestro 1995-2017”. A custom-made see-through caseback is later fitted.
This was for the back of the movement but the “Andrea Pirlo Project” is equally impressive on the front, with a main-plate that has been entirely hollowed with curves. This allows an uncluttered view on the barrel (which has also been openworked), the balance wheel or the train of gears. Once again, hand-made decorations are visible all around, with multiple sharp angles and polished bevels.
In order not to hide this impressive manual work, the dial has been reduced to the bare minimum, knowing an internal flange in dark grey, with seconds track and rose gold applied indexes with luminous dots. To match with the indexes and some of the movement parts, the classic Submariner hands are rose gold too.
Moving to the habillage of the Artisans de Genève “Andrea Pirlo Project”, evolutions are more discreet. The case and bracelet of the Rolex Submariner 114060 are kept, though finished with hand-polished bevelled lugs, straight satin-brushed surfaces and sandblasted back side of the lugs. The most noticeable modification is the new diving bezel, as Artisans de Genève replaces the classic polished black ceramic insert with a carbon forged version, which retains the 60-minute scale. This gives the watch a more technical, more modern look.
As we said already multiple times, we at MONOCHROME are not really fans of modified watches. Most of the time, they lack elegance and taste, and often only focus on the visual side of the watch. What Artisans de Genève goes several steps further and is to be seen as a real watchmaker’s job. The result is impressive and the execution is stunning, as changing an industrial movement into a haute-horlogerie calibre. The design itself remains relatively subtle – and you could even choose for something else than a carbon bezel.
As most of the recent watches presented by Artisans de Genève, the “Andrea Pirlo Project” is a personalization that has been requested by a private customer and is not produced in series. It is a sample of know-how and of personalization services made upon request of customers. Still, if you want your own Rolex Submariner to be customized in the same way (or in a different way), you can contact Artisans de Genève through the website here.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.