Mods On! Artisans De Genève Introduces the Rolex Submariner Moonphase With A Gorgeous Aventurine Glass Dial A mad, modified Rolex with a stunning result!

Mods On! Artisans De Genève Introduces the Rolex Submariner Moonphase With A Gorgeous Aventurine Glass Dial

A mad, modified Rolex with a stunning result!
May 03, 2021
Mods On! Artisans De Genève Introduces the Rolex Submariner Moonphase With A Gorgeous Aventurine Glass Dial

I have written about the Swiss custom shop that is Artisans de Genève on more than one occasion before. Best known for customizing and modifying existing watches upon request for private customers, the brand has a pretty exciting back catalog of projects. Perhaps best known for its fantastic skeletonization, we’ve seen open-worked Daytonas, Submariners, and even a 5711. Even if you are not a fan of the finished product, it’s very difficult to deny the incredible craftsmanship chops on display.

The latest project from the masters of Savoir-Faire eschews skeletonization in favor of adding a new complication to a Rolex Submariner. If you’ve glanced at the lead image above, I’m sure you’ll have noticed something was up with the Submariner. This isn’t your run of the mill 116610. If your spidey senses were indeed tingling (and I’d be worried if they weren’t), you’d have been correct. Lo and behold, there is a great big moonphase indicator on the lower portion of the dial that isn’t usually there. Intrigued? Yeah, so was I…

Artisans De Genève Submariner Moonphase

The Sea Shepherd Challenge

The Submariner Moonphase project is customization for Artisans de Genève‘s client, Captain Paul Watson. Watson was one of the founders of Greenpeace and also the founder of The Sea Shepherds. Both organizations are not without their fair share of controversy, but if you want to read about that, I’ll let you Google them and make up your own mind. I’m not here to discuss that, but instead, I want to talk about a watch that deserves attention in its own right.

Artisans De Genève Submariner Moonphase

The starry effect of aventurine glass

If we ignore that stunning moonphase for the time being (don’t worry, we’ll get to it), the standout elements are the starry dial and bezel. The fantastic material, used to significant effect, is called aventurine glass. You may have come across this material before, as it has been used before in the watchmaking industry, but it’s not exactly commonplace. An important point to bear in mind: aventurine glass is a different material from aventurine. Aventurine is a natural mineral, a form of quartz with varying inclusions of mica. Aventurine glass is a synthetic material made by adding various metal oxides to liquid glass, causing tiny particles of the metals to crystallize as the glass mixture cools. The resulting effect is reminiscent of a starry night sky.

I think you’ll agree that given the starring complication, it’d be difficult to imagine a better choice of dial and bezel material. Seeing the moonphase sitting on the gorgeous starry night sky of aventurine glass makes so much sense. I don’t know a huge amount about how easy the material is to work with, but I can’t imagine it’s not particularly easy. The tolerances required to make a thin dial and bezel insert will be incredibly slim. In addition, glass is not famed for its shatterproof qualities. The effort is definitely worth it, though, as the final product looks superb.

Artisans De Genève Submariner Moonphase

A moonphase on a Submariner?

Okay, okay, let’s talk about the real star of the show…or should that be the moon of the show? That moonphase. It’s captivating. The crazy thing is that it’s utterly alien to the natural Rolex Submariner, yet Artisans de Genève’s execution makes it look right at home just nestled in at 6 o’clock. It doesn’t look out of place whatsoever. I have to remind myself that this is a modification!

Now the Rolex Submariner 116610 holds grail status for many collectors and will forever have a place in the horological hall of fame and quite rightly so. It’s a legendary watch and, for many, the perfect blueprint of what a dive watch should be. After all, look at the plethora of Submariner homages out there. It could be considered blasphemy to mess with that blueprint, but you know what? I think Artisans de Genève has done a fantastic job. I’m not someone who believes a classic watch is untouchable. It’s a touchy subject for sure, and I’m sure there will be many who disagree with this viewpoint, as well as my love for this watch, but that is part of the beauty of this craft!

Artisans De Genève Submariner Moonphase

A mad module modification

A clever moonphase module adds new functionality to caliber 3135. Artisans de Genève’s watchmakers have upgraded the standard finishing of the entire Rolex movement with hand bevelling, circular graining, and hand polishing throughout. You can see all of these decorations through the display case back, along with the new white gold rotor with an aventurine glass insert. Looking back at the moonphase disc, this is a work of art in itself. Hand-carved sterling silver moons sit on a grand-feu enamel disc, indeed it’s not a topologically correct moon, but it is beautiful. Looking at the complication and dial as a whole, I genuinely think the integration is superb.

It’s not just the inside of the watch that has received the touch of Artisans de Genève’s watchmakers. They milled the sides of the 40mm case to create a recess. They then micro-blasted the insides of the recesses for a contrasting texture. Finally, they satin-brushed the main case surfaces and hand-polished the bevels. The combination of surface textures improves on the classic Submariner case, in my opinion. I’d love to see Rolex update the case in this way too! The bracelet links receive the same satin brushing for a seamless finish and integration with the case.

Artisans De Genève Submariner Moonphase

Final thoughts on the Artisans De Genève Submariner Moonphase

I guess that leaves the final important question: what do I think of the finished product? Well, I think I’ve made my opinions very clear throughout the article: I dig it. I love seeing Artisans de Genève’s reimaginations of timeless classics, and the Submariner Moonphase certainly does not disappoint. Watch customizations and modifications are quite subjective topics. As such, here’s a question I’d love you to answer in the comments below:

If you were to customize or modify a Submariner, what would you do to it? For example, would you want new materials used in its construction? How about additional complications?

Be as wild and wacky as you want as I’m keen to hear your thoughts! You can read more about the project on Artisans de Genève’s website.

Follow me on Instagram! @davesergeant

➤ Artisans de Genève Disclaimer: Artisans de Genève is an independent company specialized in the personalization of timepieces. It is not affiliated with Rolex SA and not authorized to intervene on its products for any reason whatsoever. This personalization was ordered for private use by a customer who already owned a Rolex timepiece.

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    1. Not really, as almost all AdG versions sell for more in grey market or used condition. Check prices on C24 and have a laugh !

    2. These watches are likely not commissioned by customers for their potential resale opportunities! That certainly wouldn’t be my approach. I was financially able to do so, it’d be a keeper watch in the collection.

    3. Since anathema to Rolex purists here is the order of the day, just for a laugh I would want AdG to turn it into a “Subgauss”!

      Ceramic bezel changed to the green one from the Kermit, a Z-Blue dial and GV sapphire crystal fitted and the seconds hand swapped out for the classic Milgauss orange lighting bolt.

      For the movement, upgrade with all the latest tech (as well as the traditional soft iron cage) to try to better the >15,000 gauss resistance of a METAS certified Omega movement.

      Round it all off by putting it on (blue, green or orange) Oysterflex.

      BOOM! A Sub bastardised with the characteristics of the Rolex that all the purists live to hate.

      Or I have I just accidentally stumbled upon the design for the next Milgauss reference…..😂

  1. I could have sworn i have seen all the craziest mod stuff out there , but this…. 🤣🤣🤣 is even better than Monthy Python Flying Circusssssssssssssss
    And now for something completely different, it`s awesome !

  2. Very cool, almost makes you wish Rolex would attempt some more ambitious complications in their watches.

    I’m a little confused about the optics, thought. The watch was made for Paul Watson, famed as either an eco-terrorist or a wildlife vigilante depending on the country. AdG makes it sound like he ordered this for himself, but I can’t help but see this as self-serving given the context of his mission. I guess we can sit here an question the ethics all day long but it is all I have thought about since they showed this off last week.

    1. The optics of the design are not what I wanted to talk about here. To be honest they’re not important when looking at the watch as a separate entity. Would you still be as confused if the watch was made for an unnamed client? Here at Fratello, we like to focus on the watches, and this watch is pretty incredible in its own right!

  3. I really like this – way more than a normal Submariner. One question: I’m used to seeing a moonphase dial flipped the other way (with the sides pointing down instead of up). When it’s flipped up like that, is it because it’s for the southern hemisphere? If it’s just aesthetic, I would prefer it flipped the other way. But then they’d probably have to make it smaller, because the moonphase disc would have to sit below the aperture, correct?

    1. So this execution does indeed appear to be set up for the Southern hemisphere, as the disc rotates clockwise in the videos. I can’t say whether this is intentional but I’d assume it was at the behest of the customer. If you wanted the more traditional ‘downward-pointing’ aperture, the whole display would have to be smaller, as you say.

  4. This is by far the ugliest modification of ANY watch currently in production. Everything is wrong with this one, from the pointless complication for this type of tool watch, to the very execution of it. Also, mods on the case are also very wrong and for the life of me I can’t understand WHY these guys are doing it in the first place? Isn’t it better to simply develop their own watch, instead of this awful bastardization of already overrated, but nevertheless emblematic Rolex watches?

    1. I’m guessing it’s the same with cars: Some people love to see modifications, others think it’s a shame that a carefully engineered car gets ruined. Personally, I’m also (well, mostly) a more purist kinda guy. But in the end: Whatever floats someone’s boat! And although its not for me, I actually quite enjoy seeing some really weird out-there stuff every now and then.

    2. The “why” is easily answered by the fact that its customers approach them and request the work. ADG is a workshop that provides bespoke modifications for its customers. It has no interest in creating its own branded pieces, as that’s a completely different area of operation. Granted the projects it undertakes are not for everyone, but that’s fine, as each project is a customization for a specific client.

      1. When it comes to modifications, it all comes down to experience and quality.

        Having your Rolex modded by AdG is like handing your Porsche GT2 RS over to Manthey Racing.

        The end result will be spectacular.

  5. I like crazy and mad watches. I’m not a huge fan of the Submariner. So when these two things meet, what happens… Someting really awkward in this case, IMHO. I really think the only thing it stands its right is the controversy – from the conception of the watch, to the execution, this is its only “feature”. No, thank you.

  6. Interesting that I just saw Captain Paul Watson feature in the Seaspiracy documentary. As someone at see for long periods of time, I can sort of see the function of a water-resistant (and thanks to 904L steel), corrosion-resistant watch with a moonphase. The Moonphase can be used to track and estimate the tides in the Southern Hemisphere. Obviously, computers can work this out more accurately, but as a quick reference it might be handy. Got me thinking that we don’t see a lot of dive watches with moonphases.

Dave Sergeant
About the author

Dave Sergeant

Dave likes watches, growing chillis, and his dog, Luna. As a fan of both football and ice hockey, he is a long-suffering fan of Tottenham Hotspur and the Edmonton Oilers. His frustration with Tottenham's endless inadequacy caused him to migrate... read more

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