Just short of hopping on the next flight over to the back alps of Switzerland and befriending an old time watch maker in an effort to create the timepiece of your dreams, watch customization options are readily available online. Today, we’re taking a look at four different companies and the degrees to which they offer customers their own watch design capabilities.
The first approach is relatively simple. SwissPL uses a traditional diver style watch with a 40mm 316L surgical-grade stainless steel case, stainless steel oyster bracelet, sapphire crystal, ETA 2824 movement, Super-Luminova paint and 300m water resistance for a base. From there, customization of the bezel ring color (black, blue, red, or green), case back engraving, and custom dial decoration are up to you. As you’ll notice from the site, customization options like this play well for corporate gifts, family events, and achievement remembrances. Though customization is limited to the external decorations, the quality of the base watch components is a value no matter what the design at the $925 asking price.
Diving further into the customization approach is Factory 121. While similarly providing customers with a choice from a selection of base models as a template, from there, you can choose the bezel styling (options like 60 minutes, gemstones, indexes, or plain), dial color and numeral styling, and strap. Upgrade options include strap size, water resistance (from 3-10atm), and buckle types. The final step of personalization is the cherry on top–custom text and a choice of symbol engravings. I ran through the watch builder, choosing the more pricey upgrades, and the watch came out to just over $300, which seems a fair price for the personally designed quartz piece.
Speaking of diving, it’s worth mentioning H2O Watches and their “Orca Configurator.” The company developed an interesting design that allows the movement/bezel module (2 models–one flat and one highly domed crystal) to be switched into five different outer cases that range in style from classic diver to vintage or mono shaped. In addition, there are three different dials and two 120-click bezel options to choose from. Using their online customization application named the “Orca Configurator” requires customers to jump through hoops–download a Photoshop file, use or download the necessary program to view it, make your customizations, and return info to them–which can be tedious and take the fun out of it. Still the end result is a tough diver with specs like an ETA 2824-2 movement, 316L hardened stainless steel, 500m water resistance, and a sapphire display case back. Pricing starts in the $900 range, but is expected to go up 20% after the pre-order window is closed.
The last company in our discussion is Germany based Tourby Watches. Worn & Wound’s very own Watch Curmudgeon gave a glowing review of the Marine Enamel watch given to him on his birthday and for good reason. This is a company that allows customers to choose from a list of high quality materials to build what is ultimately a high quality timepiece. Case styles range in size, shape and finish. With options such as pilot, classic, and dive styled cases that come in polished stainless steel, PVD coated, 18k yellow, rose, or white gold finishes, there is a product to meet most style needs. Tourby Watches works “principally with ETA Unitas 6497/6498 movements in different levels of decoration and finish.” In essence, you get a base model of a solid workhorse movement and from there can even choose how it displays in the case (solid or window case backs) and the level of decoration–plain, decorated, blued swan neck, fancy gold triovis, hand engraved rose with flame blued wheels…you get the idea. Given the degree of customization and the high quality component options, prices have a wide range. You can expect a nice watch to range from $800 and up.
In reviewing these four approaches by each company one thing is abundantly clear: whether you’re shopping at the online “watch bar” at Fossil or sending orders off to a small factory in Germany, there is an inherent notion shared by many that what we place on our wrists needs to be personal. Last week, Blake further emphasized this point in his article on Fewsome watches and their customizable watches. There are a million-and-one options out there for customization and that’s truly part of the fun. What have you made?
By Tom Caruso
photos courtesy SwissPL, Factory 121, and H20 Watches