It’s not very often that we talk about customized watches here, at Monochrome-Watches. Brands usually don’t like this practice that consists in changing several visual or technical aspects of one of their pieces. We also don’t cover them because of the look of such customizations – usually fully black or fully paved with diamonds. Such customization processes can even result in this horror. However, sometimes, aftermarket modifications can lead to proper beauties like the Heritage Submariner by Project X Designs or this new Tempus Machina Ref. 216A, a customized Rolex Submariner reminiscent of the Ref. 6538.
What Tempus Machina does with its customized Rolex Submariner is taking the best of both worlds, relying on the standard robustness, comfort and quality of the modern Rolex Submariner Ceramic no-date Ref. 114060 and modifying the austere look by adding several elements reminiscent of the vintage Rolex Submariner ref. 6538 (like this one). Everything from the shape of the case, the crown, the bezel, the crystal, the dial, the hands or the markers are modified but not changed. Every genuine part is still used but all are highly customized (except the sapphire crystal that is an aftermarket one, manufactured to special specifications).
Everything starts with a new and genuine Rolex Submariner Ceramic no-date Ref. 114060, acquired, brand new and unworn, from Authorized Rolex Dealers. Then begins the customization process – and the list of the mods is quite long. As said, the goal of Tempus Machina with the Ref. 216A is to offer the look of a Submariner 6538 with modern specs. Wearing such vintage timepieces is not always possible – solidity, reliability and water-resistance are debatable, finding the parts are complicated, the feeling and comfort are not the same and finally, the price of such rarities is often impressive. The alternative is to make a modern Sub looks like a vintage Sub, thus creating a daily-beater with a stunning design.
Here is the list of the modifications:
- Shaving the case to remove the crown guards – making the case measuring 39.5mm instead of 40mm
- Creating bevels on the lugs and lug-holes – The lugs are slightly thinned, and spring bar holes are drilled. Bevels are cut and polished thereafter.
- Changing the crown for a new-old-stock (unworn, unused and Rolex genuine) Brevet crown – a.k.a big crown because measuring 8mm
- Modifying the insert of the bezel – The Cerachrom insert remains the original one. However, the luminous pearl at 12 is removed and the triangular depression is then filled with red porcelain enamel.
- Modifying the bezel – The bezel’s profile with large notches is changed. The original bezel from the 114060 Rolex submariner is sculpted to form the coin-edge profile, just like early Subs.
- Replacing the crystal – the original flat crystal from the 114060 is removed and changed for a domed one, reminiscent of the vintage Plexiglas featured on early Submariner. This is the only aftermarket part.
- Redesigning the dial – The factory dial is stripped, polished, the applied markers are removed and then this cleaned dial used as a base to be modified.
The dial itself deserves to be explained. On vintage Rolex Submariners, the dials were specific because the writing, minute markers and chapter ring was not printed, but were in fact underneath the black galvanized layer, peeking through in negative relief. The same technique is used here. The result is a dial that uses gilt inscriptions (for the logo, the minute track and around the markers) with painted blocks as markers instead of applied plots. The depth rating is also inspired by antique Submariners, showing only 300 / 1000 and in red like some very rare Subs – like the one here. The hands are also cleaned from the blue luminous material, then gold-plated and filled with classical Super-Luminova that matches the indexes.
Frankly, the result is stunning. The look of this customized Rolex Submariner by Tempus Machina is just what a huge part of the hardcore collectors are dreaming of. Whether we’re looking at the design or the quality of the details, the result is brilliant. However, there are few things to know when starting to have some interest for customized watches. The first one is the price of such in-depth modification. If a Rolex Submariner 114060 is priced at 6.500 Euros, this Tempus Machina Ref. 216A costs 25.000 USD. Then, you have to be aware that Rolex will probably not accept this watch for service and that the warranty will be invalidated. Hopefully, Tempus Machina will provide any servicing requirements related to faulty movements for a period of 1 year after your order is delivered. More details and orders on tempus-machina.com.
These two aspects are the price to pay to enjoy a gorgeous looking and almost unique (limited to 50 pieces) Rolex Submariner – and don’t forget that a vintage Rolex Submariner 6538 will cost you a minimum of 35.000 USD and up to 200.000 USD for rare editions without being a watch that you can easily wear on a daily basis.