If you’re into watches, you have probably heard the term ”custom Rolex” or ”Rolex custom” before. But what does it mean exactly? That’s what we will get to the bottom of in this article.
The term ”custom” is short for ”customized” or ”customization". These are all terms that you are familiar with. Wikipedia uses the term ”modding” to describe custom, which means modifying. But what do they mean in the context of Rolex watches?
What does custom Rolex mean?
To use the official definition of customization, or modifying, it is:
”to change somewhat the form or qualities of; alter partially; amend”.
In other words, a custom Rolex is a Rolex watch that has been modified in one way or another. There are several different ways to customize a Rolex watch, but the most common include:
- Changing the strap (changing the strap or bracelet is a form of customization, but this is usually not referred to as a custom Rolex since you can simply change the strap/bracelet back again
- Custom gem-setting on the watch. Usually on the case, the bezel, or the bracelet. This is the most common form of customization of a Rolex watch, and what most people think of when they hear the term ”custom Rolex”
- Other altercations to the Rolex watch such as PVD treatment, DLC coating
- Change of dial to a custom dial
Custom Rolex gem-setting
A custom Rolex is a form of after-market customization of a Rolex watch. This means that adjustments have been made to the timepiece after it has left the factory. For example, if a Rolex watch has a diamond bezel when it left the factory, it is considered a ”factory diamond bezel”. However, if the Rolex has been modified with a diamond bezel after it has left the factory, it is considered a custom Rolex watch.
As mentioned, gem-setting is the most common form of customization. People who appreciate gem-set Rolex watches tend to like custom Rolex watches. This is because a custom Rolex watch can be customized exactly how the client wants it. Yes, there are a lot of gem-set factory Rolex watches, but you’re still limited to the designs that Rolex creates. If you, for example, want diamonds and gemstones on a model that Rolex does not make with diamonds, customization is the only way. The same goes for if you want more diamonds than Rolex offers.
Simply explained, customization gives you total creative freedom about how you want your Rolex watch to look.
Furthermore, factory gem-set Rolex watches are often extremely expensive and come at a huge premium. By customizing your Rolex and adding diamonds and gemstones at a later stage, you can achieve the same look but at a considerably lower price.
A word of advice if you choose to have your Rolex watch customized with gemstones is to check what type of gemstones are being used and their quality, to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
Rolex custom dials
Another form of customization of Rolex watches is dials. You can buy custom Rolex dials, or have a custom shop install a custom dial in your watch. The reason why some people choose a custom dial for their Rolex watch is that it gives them full freedom about how the dial should look. When you buy a factory Rolex, you’re limited to the dial options that Rolex offers. But with a custom dial, you can get exactly the design, color, and look you want. That way, you can create your ideal and favorite Rolex watch.
Note that in general, custom dials are not original, and since they are normally branded ”Rolex”, they are technically counterfeit in the eyes of Rolex. It is possible to buy real factory dials for your Rolex watch secondhand, but you’re still limited to the dials that Rolex has in its offerings.
Blacked out DLC or PVD customization
One of the most common forms of customizations is DLC or PVD coating. This gives an all-black look to the metal of the watch and gives the watch a sporty and masculine appearance. If you want to give your watch a truly unique and sporty look, a PVD or DLC coating could be a suitable choice.
Should you buy a customized Rolex?
There are definitely split opinions about whether or not you should buy a custom Rolex, or if you should buy one if you are contemplating it.
It is therefore important to be aware of the downsides of customizing a Rolex before you do it.
The answer to this question depends. There are two main criticisms to customizing a watch:
First, it takes the watch from being ”factory” and truly original to something that is not completely "stock". And if you know how watch collectors (or most collectors for that matter) are, you know they like things completely original. Any modifications are seen as negative and it makes the item less appealing.
Secondly, and this ties in with the first point, it devalues the watch. Since customized watches don’t speak to collectors and enthusiasts, it significantly affects the watch’s value negatively. With that said, if you do choose to customize your watch, you need to be aware of the fact that it will devalue these watch’s value. Then, of course, you also need to consider the fact that it is normally not cheap to customize a watch, either.
With this in mind, customization of a Rolex should only be done if it speaks to you, and you are okay with it devaluing the watch, shall you decide to sell it later on. If you want your watch to be unique and customized according to your own tastes and preferences, then a customized Rolex may be the way to go.
In general, it is not possible to revert a customized watch back to its original state, but it also depends on what modifications you do. For example, if you set the whole case with diamonds, then the case will need to be carved in order to hold these diamonds. The same can be said if you do DLC or PVD coating, which is extremely difficult to remove from the watch, and it is not something that you normally do. In other words, you cannot change your mind at a later stage.
Modify without customizing
If you’re intrigued by changing the look of your Rolex watch but don’t want to do something permanent that negatively affects the value, there are still a few modifications you can do to your Rolex watch:
- Buy a custom dial and keep your original. That way, you can switch back to the original dial shall you want to sell it.
- Buy a custom bezel and keep your original bezel. The most common type of bezel is diamond bezels.
- Buy a new strap or bracelet to give your watch a new look. This is the most common (and easiest) form of modification.
The bottom line is, if you want to customize your Rolex watch, there are many ways to do so. Customizing your watch will give it a unique and new look, and it gives you plenty of creative freedom to design the watch of your dreams. But still, it is important to bear in mind that most customizations, at least those that are permanent, will negatively affect the value of your watch, shall you decide to sell it further on.