The rush for reconfigured iconic Rolex models is matched in fervor only by rare Rolex Daytonas at auction and ultra-coveted new releases like this year’s Pepsi GMT Master-II. Some Swiss watchmakers have even begun embracing the formerly shunned art of watch customization by outside watchmakers like Bamford, MAD Paris, and Artisans de Geneve. The latter, made by the hands of craftsman Philippe Narbel, has upped the competition by partnering with big names like Lenny Kravitz on the Rolex LK 01 and Spike Lee on the Rolex Cool Hand Brooklyn. Now, the watch customizer has tapped race car driver Juan Pablo Montoya—who, full disclosure, is currently driving for Team Penske—for its latest reworking of a Rolex Daytona in its first-ever version with a skeletonized dial.
Each limited-edition of 50 is disassembled piece by piece and reconstructed and finished by hand in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux. The original bezel has been replaced with a tachymeter bezel machined in forged carbon block. The hands and counters have been replaced with individually hand-painted ones in the national colors of Montoya’s native Columbia. To top it off, the chronograph counter hands have been swapped out for pencil-shaped versions that match their counters and a red chronograph seconds hand that has been treated with a sandblasted finish. The hour and minute hands are true to the original timepiece.
Inside, the skeletonized caliber 4130 movement features Artisans de Genève’s signature solid 22-karat grey gold rotor, which has been openworked to enhance the angles of the movement. The rotor is visible thanks to the replacement of the original caseback of the Rolex 116520 with a transparent sapphire crystal case back—another Artisans de Genève trademark. The entire movement was disassembled and finished by hand including its bridges, which have hand-beveled edges. That process took two years of development and hundreds of hours of man power.
The 44 mm stainless steel Rolex “La Montoya” timepiece (42,260 euros or $47,895) is not the racing legend’s first. In 2005, Montoya collaborated with Audemars Piguet on the Royal Oak Offshore Juan Pablo Montoya, which featured a prominent use of carbon fiber on the bezel and pushers, as well as bezel screws that emulated engine bolts and a clutch-shaped rotor. The collaboration of 1,900 editions proved popular and this one will too. As auction houses, vintage dealers, and pre-owned e-tailers alike scramble to sell more and more Rolex Daytonas, Montoya’s latest watch collaboration is certain to stand out in the crowd.