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MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On

MadeWorn is a still pretty new company (founded in 2013) which is the latest project by the well-respected and successful Mr. Blaine Halvorson. Blaine also happens to be a watch guy and recently began an interesting journey that others just like him have taken in the past – to include timepieces in his lifestyle concept in a way that works for his particular tastes and aesthetic. How people like Mr. Halvorson do this really depends on the individual, their connections, and how insanely deep they want to go into the mire which is trying to produce products in the world of watches.

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Blaine decided on an interesting angle that combines some unique elements as well as those greatly admired by many collectors in the watch industry – to take Rolex watches and use legendary American gun engravers to embellish the core look of a Rolex with incredible surface decoration. Blaine’s challenge, in my opinion, is properly including these one-of-a-kind timepiece creations within his MadeWorn brand, and deciding how to create an image for his watches that consumers understand.

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Meeting Halverson at his private, appointment-only retail and workshop space in Los Angeles, we sat down to talk watches, art, and brand building. Halvorson, like many of his contemporaries, is both a craftsman and an artist – who himself is a walking manifestation of his aesthetic, decorated with carefully curated clothing and tattoos. MadeWorn is really the dream project he wanted to do since the start, and was able to do after the sale of his successful business Junkfood Clothing in 2005. Today Halvorson collects stuff, build clothing and accessories, and hangs out in what I can easily describe is one of the most interesting retail spaces in all of Los Angeles.

The story of Halvorson runs a lot deeper than these watches and my brief description of him. Once I get to know him better, I can share his tale with you. I mention this because stepping into his world and seeing what means a lot to him is enough to have you asking questions, because not everyone likes – for example – taxidermy as much as him.

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Part of the MadeWorn aesthetic can be understood by knowing that Blaine Halvorson grew up in Bozeman, Montana and enjoyed a very outdoorsy life from the time he was a small boy. His rustic, Americana sense of art is about discovering what was once lost, nature, and producing things by hand. Halvorson is very much a creative director, but he is also a craftsman who does things like cobble shoes, which he sells to clients for between about $900 and $3,000 per pair.


One thing Halvorson can’t do is hand-engrave timepieces. Inspired by decoratively engraved guns, Halvorson found some of his favorite American gun engravers, and ask them to do some watch projects for him. Blaine isn’t the first person to think of this, and in fact, watch making is something that still has a home nearby where he grew up. Bozeman has the Bozeman Watch Company, and nearby is also the Montana Watch Company that also has timepieces with engraved cases inspired by gun engravings. Several yeas ago, I reviewed the Montana Watch Company 1930 hand-engraved watch here.

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On

MadeWorn’s approach is more like that of Bamford Watch Department – a company who has some parallels to what MadeWorn is doing. Bamford is a Rolex watch modifier who takes new Rolex watches and changes their textures and colors. MadeWorn, with its still very new collection of watches, takes new or vintage Rolex watches and customizes them with engravings or special bracelets. In fact, Halvorson likes the term “carvings” more than engravings, as it implies more manual labor.

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Speaking of manual labor, I had to ask Halvorson if the engravers ran into problems while decorating the cases and bracelets of these Rolex watches. Modern Rolex timepieces use a very hard form of steel which is an alloy called 904L. In addition to being very corrosion resistant 904L steel is very difficult to machine. Engravers typically like working with softer metals such as gold, silver, or brass. While I didn’t have a chance to discuss it with the engravers, Blaine did respond that the engravers offered a lot of complaints about the difficulty of engraving each watch.

MadeWorn American Hand-Engraved Rolex Watches Hands-On Hands-On



Disqus Debug thread_id: 3991165733

  • Wonderful work. I like then a lot – finally it produces a Rolex I sort of like 🙂 I’m not denying the artistry but the prices are not trivial. Come to think of it, I know a guy who knows a guy in L.A. who does gun chasing. Maybe I could send a case of mine his way and see what comes of it. My curlve lug rings certainly provide enough canvass for carving.

  • GlenLH

    Way to destroy a beautiful watch. Makes the watch look trash as hell.

  • MisterDeal

    It’s funny – this kind of engraving is in the air; I think of the Panerai Radiomir Firenze 3 Days Acciaio, for example.
    Like, say, some of the work of Christoph Claret, I am pretty dazzled at the effort, craft & ingenuity of this – but couldn’t imagine having any of these pieces on my wrist. That said, it’s pretty amazing that how the “carvings” are so balanced in their composition; while they are obviously quite expressive, the balance of their kinetic all-over compositions complements the idealized Rolex proportions, which are soothing in their minimal perfection.

    Okay, really going to skip the late-night espresso tomorrow, swears…

  • I actually quite like these. A lot. Very interesting…thanks for this article.

  • MisterDeal

    Reading this, I did think about you do see these kinds of watches when traveling through the West, the South, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, etc. Often you’ll see Rolexes with these crazy carved bracelets with turquoise, etc. 
    Similarly, I was in New Orleans recently, and all kinds of normal people had kinda fancy Rolex, Cartier, & Tiffany-type watches – many of them having a bit of personalization/engraving as well. I think in that part of the world, there’s a still a remnant of old-school formality that doesn’t exist in Casual Friday-land: a watch still really communicates something that you work hard & indicates some social status

  • joshgraves

    I think the only Rolex I’d wear would be a modified one.  I love engraved cases and these are some of the best I’ve ever seen.

  • Fraser Petrick

    I like them!

  • DG Cayse

    Well, I tell you what. Those are some damn fines pieces being offered.
    Damn fine pictures in the article also.

  • MarcusMak

    The engraving has turned a few notches up for boring Rolex, i’ll give its a tick!

  • captaina16

    As a very amateur jewelry maker I can attest to how hard it is to make only one simple curve of these designs. You may not like the designs but you have to give kudos to the craftsmen for their abilities. Remember this is handwork not some cad computer doing all the work.I give this guy his due respect for furthering the use of an ancient craft in a modern world.

  • iamcalledryan

    I like them. It is interesting how when a manufacturer does this (the Panerai, the PP Chime) people start flipping out, but as long as it is done by someone edgey and independent people swoon. I appreciate how absurd it is to fall for the “magic” of marketing, but it is interesting to observe double standards in practice.
    Perhaps I am wrong and it is just the noisey objectors feel less inclined to shout at a big guy with a beard!

  • Lurch

    Nice watches I like the designs – looks better than the basic Rolex.  One question though – how does Rolex handle it if you send the Rolex in for service?  Do they try and replace the case and bracelet with the standard, factory-issued or perform the work with the hand engraved pieces.  My experience with Rolex…  When my late father’s watch needed servicing, I sent it to Rolex but they wouldn’t work on it until some Rolex components were replaced with the correct components for the watch (ie. bezel and dial). The watch was modified long ago with Rolex components but components that didn’t match the watch.  The watch was also an old Rolex and Rolex didn’t have the components to replace.  So in the end, I couldn’t get the watch serviced by Rolex because they didn’t have the components.  Turned me off from ever buying a Rolex.

  • orientsan

    Besides the watches and the artistic engravings, I really like the photography here, It’s full of textures and nice warm tones!

  • MagMontres

    aBlogtoWatch Qu’en pensez-vous du coté de Club_OPC ? Pas mal du tout non ? 🙂

  • It would be the same for these. They either would not service the watch, or charge and seriously hefty fine to bring it back to the original spec.

  • An improvement to your standard Roles, to say the least.
    If MadeWorn had its way with a Roles, then it was given to Bamford to play with, the Roles might divide by zero if they saw it.

  • Fucking auto correct. Are we so vain??!?!!?! Let people make a spelling mistake from time to time. You never know, they might actually spell the word they were trying to use.

  • Ulysses31

    It’s extraordinary how the dedication of one man can breathe life into these dreary timepieces.  I love the work gunsmiths do on their weapons, and seeing it on a watch is quite a pleasure.  If you’ve seen the laser-engraved design on a shotgun by Marc Newson you’ll see just how beautiful they can get, although I admit it isn’t exactly the same thing as hand carving in that instance.  If I had to criticise anything here, it would be that I feel the carvings are a little too deep, or at least they look that way being so much darker than the surface areas.  A more subtle contrast between the two is something i’d prefer.

  • au bloc

    I’m overwhelmed by the strong irony at play here. Halvorsen exudes a strong blue-collar, bad boy images all tatted up living in LA. But now he is a (unofficial) Rolex dealer? Reminds me of the Baby-Boomer hippies now driving Cadillacs.

  • BigMike213

    It doesn’t get any better than guns and Rolex for this Texan. And I’m just about sold on that Explorer I’ll tell yall whut(Hank Hill voice). Very lovely watches!!

  • iamcalledryan

    Now I am picturing what these engravings would look like on a “Roles” Royce

  • dahcd

    These are not your run of the mill Rolexe’s but you have to admire
    the artistry of his work. He brings to life an art that is hundreds of years
    old and puts it on a fine product.. Like it or hate it, thanks for keeping
    this art alive today.

  • nickyb66

    Great craftsmanship from this man, a real talent for sure. I especially like the custom box it comes with, really goes hand in hand with the watch itself…a Rolex, what more can one ask for!

  • shinytoys

    Magnificent work. You should see his custom firearms.

  • Jorge Rodriguez

    Holy crap, these are beautiful!

  • SwissMatic

    MarkCarson A Hawaiian vegetation motif would look nice.

  • SwissMatic

    Not really my style, but I can’t stop looking at them. The black DLC looks like it’s chipping though.

  • Shawnnny

    Let me know how that works out. I’d love something like that!

  • Shawnnny

    Even a good whack with a sledgehammer is an improvement for a Rolex. But, this guys work makes me want to own one! Totally brilliant!

  • Shawnnny

    Ariel, I’ve never seen a watch with tattoos in it.

  • I_G

    I knew before I opened the article that the engraver must be heavily tattooed.

  • Michael Staffieri

    absolutely gorgeous and further out of my price range

  • Gabechambers

    Super cool- finally a rolex i would actually consider wearing – a lot more impressive than bamfords cheesy colour dipping for pretentious  trust fund crybabies IMHO

  • Min Lee

    not usually into “bling” type of watches but this one is really well done!

  • TomasinaCovell

    I don’t like the way the Rolex coronet was negotiated, I’d love to something resembling more Bauhaus or art deco look.

  • Karan Castelino


  • LukeKaden

    what is the reference of the royal precision featured here?

  • joblow

    Thumbs up.

  • chruisto

    My god!
    Those are unbelievably ugly!

  • wristwatchforum

    aBlogtoWatch A few of our members love the MadeWorn Explorer I, but the whole idea got mixed reviews overall at #wristwatchforums .

  • MatSmithJohnson

    Love, love, love the Explorer on the leather strap. Holy shit, it’s super fucking cool, if the back were a bit more elaborately engraved on that one, I’d love it even more.

    If I had this kind of disposable income, that would be on my wrist.


  • JamesWWIII

    Watches are cool, guy who runs the company looks like a hipster douche.

    “carefully curated clothing and tattoos”?

    My pretentiousness meter is pegged in the red.

  • JamesWWIII

    I_G He’s not the engraver. Did you open the article just to look at the pictures, or did you actually read it?

  • JamesWWIII

    nickyb66 The craftsmanship isn’t his, it’s done by others and sold by him. Maybe he builds the boxes, though.

  • ArielDouchebag


  • PlanoTXWX

    Gross. Not impressed….I’m a watch guy and all I see is a bunch of garbaged-up watches worn by a tattoo freak.

  • PlanoTXWX

    DCVintageWatch aBlogtoWatch Anybody that trashes a watch like this guy should be locked up. Gross person and work.

  • funNactive

    custom & unique. Rolex has subtle & classic styling. If you want “the highest end watch” (that the average person recognizes) & want extra attention.

  • Dave Jones

    They look awesome! HOWEVER.. once you’ve done that to your ROLEX it’s value is “shot to sh**!” The problem is that once the body or any part of the watch is altered, ROLEX will NEVER EVER touch it again.. means no more service or maintenance from ROLEX – ever. Without the official maintenance history in the book your watch looses its value.

  • Rashid Hakim

    Dear friends & fellow connoisseurs, let us please remember that Carl Fabrege, was NOT the actual craftsman behind many of his fabulous Eggs & Trinkets either. – Would I personally wear a “MadeWorn” accentuated Rolex, or other “MadeWorn Time piece”?? – In a heart-beat! – Also, my thanks too “Disqus Debug” for this, and so many other interesting threads.

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