Sitting in front of me I have a total of five watches made by Bespoke Watch Projects, a watch brand based in Oakland that specializes in, well, bespoke watches. These are from the Intaglio 38 Tonneau series released last year, and they all have the same 38mm tonneau case shape and are adorned with the brand’s “Intaglio” dials, a moniker that refers to the engraving processes employed to fabricate them. While the cases share a form factor, the dials are quite dramatically different, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they could all be from different brands (there’s a clear design language that ties them all together), they speak to different tastes. It would be hard to imagine the same customer that’s drawn to the avante garde blue “Modèle Nu” also gravitating toward the “New Roman,” for example, which looks like an Art Deco representation of a field watch to my eyes. But that’s the whole point of custom watches, I suppose. Catering to highly specific tastes and requirements is the name of the game.
For the uninitiated, a brief primer on how Bespoke Watch Projects works is in order. As the brand name implies, the speciality here is customized watches, and you’ll find an interactive tool on the website that allows a customer to choose from a wide selection of dial and hand combinations. You can also select among a handful of coatings for the case, and you get a few movement options as well (more on all that below). If you’d rather not design your own watch, you can select from a variety of “Readymade” watches that are available to ship on a moment’s notice. Everything is done in small batches, so the Readymade options come and go quickly, and you never know exactly what you’ll find in the shop.
I’ve always had an interest in customized watches, even from my earliest days in the hobby. I’m personally fascinated with the line you can draw from bespoke, one-of-one pieces of the highest horology created in the earliest days of watchmaking, to the Seiko modding scene that is still active today, and where many of today’s enthusiasts cut their teeth. There’s a built in desire among many of us to possess something unique, and of our own design that nobody else has. If watches are an expression of our individual personalities, a watch made for you, to your specifications, should be the ultimate grail.