The Swiss masters of Savoir-Faire are back with another creation. Over the last 12 months, I have come to enjoy the work that Artisans de Genève does. So, when the brand reached out to let me know about its latest project, “The Maggiore Challenge”, I was pretty excited. What would we see this time? Well, the answer? A masterpiece in the form of a skeletonized rose gold Daytona.

Of late, the Swiss atelier Artisans de Genève has made a real name for itself with superb and stunning customization projects and unfettered artistic genius. You may recall The Sea Shepherd Challenge, a Rolex Submariner with moonphase complication and a beautiful aventurine glass dial and bezel. Then there was The Black Pearl Project, a skeletonized Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 with a forged carbon bezel. Love them or hate them, you cannot deny the true talent of the brand’s craftspeople. These iconic watches are “untouchable” to some but yet projects that are unquestionably individualistic and fly in the face of tradition.

Artisans De Genève "The Maggiore Challenge"

A classic canvas

The Maggiore Challenge is a personal project commissioned by one of Artisans de Genève’s private customers. The client expressed his wish to use warm, autumnal colors and specific materials to evoke his childhood memories of Lake Maggiore, Italy. Anonymously referred to as Mr. R.D.L, he said:

“To me, Lake Maggiore is my childhood. It’s where I spent all my family holidays, where my father gave me his love of sailing, and where I first understood the beauty and majesty of nature.”

The canvas for The Maggiore Challenge is the venerable Rolex Daytona reference 116505. A classic sporting chronograph watch loved and coveted by collectors all around the globe. This is not the first time that Artisans de Genève has worked on a customer’s Daytona, but the finished result is as unique as previous projects. I always find it interesting the wide range of feelings towards these projects in the comments sections. Some, like me, love and appreciate the creativity and alternative vision of the original watch. Others believe it to be blasphemy to “destroy” the donor watch through modification. I am already eagerly anticipating the discussions in the comments. Be sure to let me know what you think!

Skeletonized Rolex 4130 movement

The Maggiore Challenge

As watch enthusiasts and collectors, the mechanical workings of watches form a vital part of the romantic mysticism that fascinates us. It’s poetry in mechanical form. The delicate beating hairspring forms the organic “heartbeat” of the inanimate object upon our wrist. I may not speak for all collectors, but I love to see my watches live. As I am sure you are aware, Rolex does not make skeletonized versions of its sports watches. It doesn’t even have open case backs to let owners peek into the mechanical insides.

Custom handset

A view to the heart soul

With The Maggiore Challenge, Artisans de Genève has taken the donor watch and opened it up. Transparency and inclusivity are the name of the game here. A sapphire dial and sapphire display case back allow unobstructed views of the heavily refinished and skeletonized Rolex 4130 chronograph movement within. Each piece of the caliber 4130 was hand-cut and treated in gray anthracite. The craftspeople then hand-beveled and hand-polished each element to bring contrast and shine.

The sapphire dial features solid rose gold hour markers and sub-dial borders that appear to “float” on top of the movement within. Black translucent rings on the outer edges of the dial and subdials allow for increased legibility of the chronograph scales and minute track. Artisans de Genève chose solid rose gold for the custom-made hour and minute hands. Their “split” shape is far more aesthetically pleasing than the standard Daytona handset, in my opinion. The sub-dial hands and the orange-tipped central second hand are also made of solid rose gold. The sub-dial hands are painted white on the tip and counterbalance.

Closeup of hand-finished movement

A nod to the Borromean Islands

A circular-grained ceramic bezel tops off the watch. The dark anthracite gray bezel is supposed to invoke the character of the beautiful Borromean Islands. After looking at photographs of the islands, I’ll admit that I don’t get that inspiration. Still, the bezel complements the dial wonderfully. As a side note, I wholeheartedly recommend looking into the Borromean Islands in more detail. They are stunning. I think I’ve found my next holiday destination. I accept no responsibility if you find yourself out of pocket after booking an expensive holiday to Lake Maggiore.

Partial side profile of the rose gold case

My impressions of The Maggiore Challenge

I do not doubt for a second that Mr. R.D.L was overjoyed with his finished watch. Love or hate the final design and aesthetic; you cannot deny that it is anything less than a work of art. The level of details and quality of the craftsmanship are clearly evident throughout. Art is meant to be divisive and provoke discussion. I think that’s a large part of why I have come to appreciate the fine work of Artisans de Genève. For more information about Artisans de Genève and The Maggiore Challenge, you can visit the brand’s project website here.

Artisans De Genève "The Maggiore Challenge"

Artisans de Genève disclaimer

Artisans de Genève is an independent company specializing in the personalization of timepieces for its private customers. It does not manufacture or sell watches. Artisans de Genève is not affiliated with Rolex SA nor authorized to intervene on their products for any reason whatsoever. A private customer ordered this personalization of his Rolex® timepiece for personal use.

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