Rolex takes their time and are deliberate with changes to their watch collections. This is why their quality and reputation has been essentially bulletproof through the years, never marred by compromises or changes they weren’t comfortable with. But sometimes, you just want a Rolex with an exhibition case back. I purchased an Explorer II last year and could not be happier with the decision but the demure and unadorned steel case back does little to get my heart pumping. Of course, Les Artisans De Geneve used an exhibition case back here, designed to show off their customized caliber 4130 movement. I assume this is not the caliber 4130 that has Rolex’s Superlative Chronometer Certification introduced in 2015 since this is a previous iteration of the Daytona (though the 4130 is still the movement used in new models).
Les Artisans De Geneve did DLC work on parts of the movement as well as gold parts, including the rotor with a Côtes de Genève pattern. Knowing that Rolex movements carry a certain expectation of reliability and resilience, Les Artisans De Geneve state that they tested the movement over the course of a year to ensure a quality product. Oddly enough, if the watch is on the military cuff strap then the case back will be covered and a view into the movement will be blocked, which is a shame.
This is a good time to talk about what is likely to be one of the most controversial aspects of the LK 01 Daytona – the strap. The handmade Berenia calf leather military cuff strap is soft and about as nice of a leather strap as I’ve handled, but I have got to say that I’ve just never been a fan of these cuff-style straps. They’re just not my thing, and this is no different. Granted, there is a benefit that comes from the width of this strap as it makes the (by contemporary standards) quite small 40mm wide case size of the Daytona appear bigger as well as more substantial on the wrist. Most people I showed this piece to or who saw me wearing it were fans of the strap, but it’s really just a matter of taste.
Fortunately, Les Artisans De Geneve include the Rolex oyster bracelet done in black DLC with this watch, so you can swap them out depending on your taste or mood. Maybe Lenny Kravitz, who designed the strap, can pull it off better than I can, but it’s safe to say I would keep it on the bracelet essentially all the time. My thinking was “I wish this came on a black bracelet” a few minutes after putting the watch on as it came (on the cuff) and it was a pleasant surprise to find the bracelet a few minutes later. So, in this case, it’s hard for me to fault the decision to use the military cuff since the ideal substitution is included.
What’s truly unique about the LK 01 (and this is not something I often discuss when reviewing a watch) is the box that it comes in. The leather-clad box also functions as a Bluetooth JBL speaker, a clear homage to Kravitz’s musical career. As expected, it feels and handles like the luxury product it clearly is. With a USB port for charging to allow portability, it’s a neat extra to have. Maybe you can even get a theme song playing before you open the box to reveal the watch to friends or family.
The Les Artisans De Geneve & Kravitz Design LK 01 Rolex Daytona is designed to stand out, show off, and be fun. In design and execution, it’s remarkably well conceived and executed. No offense to Lenny, but when watch enthusiasts think of collaborations between celebrities and watch customizers (let alone customized Rolexes), there is a knee jerk critical reaction, for a variety of reasons. This isn’t just a black Rolex with a Kravitz Design logo stamped on the dial, though. It’s a luxury watch that will appeal to a very specific kind of collector who wants something new, youthful, fun, and uncommon in a way that attracts attention and intrigue. Coming in a limited edition of 55 pieces made, the LK 01 is priced at €37,800. lesartisansdegeneve.com
>Brand: Les Artisans De Geneve
>Model: LK 01 (modified ref. 116523 Rolex Daytona)
>Size: 40mm wide
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: A collector who is bored by typical brand offerings but unimpressed by most modified watches that lack any real personality or creativity in their design.
>Best characteristic of watch: The meticulous finish and feel of the watch and how well thought out the cohesive end product is.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Prohibitive cost for most. Personally don’t love the cuff, but that’s addressed with the inclusion of the DLC bracelet.