Les Artisans De Geneve is a company that was created in early 2016 with a mission of “recreating” existing and vintage watches. Initially distinguishing themselves from the customizers like Bamford, they chose to create pieces like their tribute to the Rolex Daytona 6263 watch which strayed from being too radical in how it was reimagined. Later in the year, came this watch, the Les Artisans De Geneve & Kravitz Design LK 01 Rolex Daytona. Partnering with Lenny Kravtiz’s design firm, Kravitz Design, Les Artisans De Geneve went all out in creating a brash and audacious black DLC and gold Daytona on a black military cuff strap. The mere inception of this concept is designed to generate love or hate opinions, but after spending time with this watch there is one undeniable fact – the product is meticulously done and objectively impressive in its execution.
The LK 01 is based on- the Rolex Daytona Ref. 116523. This is the two-tone steel and gold model introduced in 2000, but the two have little in common when you consider the before and after. Les Artisans De Geneve disassemble the watch and movement by hand and then begin their extensive process of modifying the piece. The case is treated with a black DLC and the bezel is replaced with one that is bakelite treated, done using a machine that dates back to the 1970s.
It was only last year which Rolex refreshed their Daytona lineup by introducing a ceramic (or Cerachrom) bezel, and today for 2017, we see the release of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona with ceramic bezel in yellow and white gold with a.. . Wait for it… Oysterflex rubber band. The three variations will come in yellow gold, white gold, and Everose (the proprietary Rolex Pink gold), all that will have the caliber 4130 movement which has been upgraded to the Rolex Superlative Chronometer Certification of being true to +2/-2 minutes per day.The mix of Cerachrom dial, gold, and the Oysterflex presents a refreshing of the Rolex Daytona that I am not sure many people expected and we will truly be able to give you a legitimate reporting of the watches look like once we discuss our hands on images with you soon. I’ve a feeling that there is going to be a healthy mix or “love it or hate it” extremes in view here, that is something I love.For those not familiar with exactly what the Oysterflex bracelet is, I will let’s description of it from when it was introduced do the job: “The structure of the bracelet starts with a metal “blade” (a ceramic nickel metal) which makes a base form and makes it fit securely. One of the most fascinating elements on the strap are the “fins” beneath that are designed to create a cushion between the strap and your wrist. This allows for your wrist to expand and contract a little while the strap stays comfortable and snug, and also can help vent the interior part of the strap a bit on hot days. It is a great feeling strap made out of an ‘elastomer’ substance that’s connected to an 18k rose gold deployant clasp.”
I really appreciate the use of bakelite for the bezel as it’s a novel and actually practical material. For those not familiar, bakelite is a temperature resistant plastic made of phenol and formaldehyde that is flexible to mold and durable once set. This is no ordinary plastic, and vintage bakelite items like jewelry, billiard balls, and chess sets (among many other items) are highly valuable and prized. And, of course, the Rolex Watches New Orleans Replica GMT Ref. 6542 has a bakelite bezel and was sold for something around six-figures. Of course, part of the reason for this value may be due to the fact that the watch was discontinued when the decision to fill the numerals with radium was met with the unfortunate reality that bakelite could break, subjecting the wearer to the radium. In any case, in a world of ceramic bezels, I really enjoyed and appreciated the distinct aesthetic and feel of the bakelite bezel on the LK 01.
The black bezel has white tachymeter numerals and indices with a gold inner and outer ring. In addition to this, the chronograph pushers and crown are also done in gold which contrasts quite nicely with the black DLC case. It’s far from being an entirely original pairing of contrasting colors, but the exquisite quality and finish is clear as soon as the watch is handled.
The theme continues on the dial, with gold hands and indices set against the black dial. It’s all pretty attractive but it’s impossible to not want there to be a line or two less of text. Some editing here would have aesthetically paid off, in my opinion. On the other hand, I think the touch of the red chronograph hand was a good choice in breaking up the gold and black aesthetic. That dual color scheme can get a little too serious, so this was a good decision. Legibility is sacrificed here, there’s no way around it. The polished gold hands are difficult to read if it’s a very sunny day (which we have a lot of in Los Angeles) and glare can make the dial unreadable. With that said, the polished gold hands are definitely part of this watch’s identity and I wouldn’t expect this piece to sacrifice style for practicality. That’s just not what it’s about.