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Trend Watch: Exploring Custom Rolex Watches on Instagram

Paul Altieri

If like us, your Instagram feed is filled with glorious photos of luxury watches, you will have no doubt noticed more than a few custom Rolex timepieces. While purists would never imagine changing a Rolex watch, there are plenty of enthusiasts out there that like to stand out with distinct custom models. There are many ways to customize a watch, whether it’s adding diamonds, switching out the bracelets for straps, or engraving the back with personalized messages. However, there are some companies that take custom Rolex watches to a whole new level. Join us as we delve into the world of Rolex watch customization and personalization.

Celebrity Designed Custom Rolex Watches

In just a few short years, Les Artisans de Genève has made a name for themselves with a range of custom Rolex watches. While the company started with watches that were tributes to popular vintage Rolex models—Daytona ref. 6263, Milgauss ref. 1019, and Submariner ref. 5513 just to name a few—the brand now has a couple of celebrity collaborations under their belt too.


In 2016, Les Artisans de Genève released the LK01 designed by musician Lenny Kravitz. The LK01 is, in fact, a custom two-tone Rolex Daytona ref. 116523 with a black DLC-coated case and a military cuff leather strap. Other modifications include a new handmade Bakelite golden bezel and a black dial with the words “KRAVITZ DESIGN” under the original SCOC text.


Just last year, Les Artisans de Genève introduced yet another custom Rolex Daytona dubbed the “Cool Hand Brooklyn” designed by filmmaker, Spike Lee. This time, the base of the model is the steel Daytona ref. 116520 dressed in a bold blue and orange color palette in honor of Lee’s favorite team, the New York Knicks. Along with the color changes found on the dial, bezel, and chronograph pushers, the famous Daytona label that typically arches over the register at 6 o’clock has been replaced with another city’s name—Brooklyn, Lee’s hometown. This particular custom Rolex Daytona is fitted with a blue alligator strap but the original steel Oyster bracelet is also provided.

Custom Rolex Watches Engravings

The brainchild of designer Blaine Halvorson, MadeWorn takes a very distinct approach to personalizing Rolex watches. MadeWorn typically takes steel Rolex watches and engraves the case, bezel, and bracelet with intricate patterns.


The work is labor intensive and it takes about a month for an engraver to customize the Rolex watch. Plus, for those who like unique pieces, you’ll be happy to note that no two MadeWorn-engraved Rolex watches are alike. Many have commented that these particular custom Rolex watches look like they’ve undergone a tattoo-like treatment.

Black Out Custom Rolex Watches

While Bamford Watch Department has recently ceased customizing Rolex watches, it’s safe to say that this is the company that propelled the trend to mainstream heights a few years ago. Even actor Robert Downey Jr. showed off his Bamford-customized Rolex GMT-Master II “Ghost” in a GQ video that went viral.

This particular model is a modified steel Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 116710LN, which features black PVD coating from top to bottom with sharp white markings on the dial and bezel. On the black dial, we clearly see the “BAMFORD” label just above the “GMT-MASTER II” text. According to Downey Jr., the celebrity bought two of these custom Rolex watches—one for himself and one for his friend as a birthday gift—because “you can’t go wrong with a Rolex.”

Custom Rolex watches are polarizing in watch collecting circles with one camp squarely against them while the other proudly supporting the notion of making things your own. At the end of the day, sporting a luxury watch should bring joy to the wearer and if a custom Rolex is what makes you happy, then why not?

Paul Altieri
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