Bespoke, customised, tailor-made, personalised watches... take your pick. In this niche universe, you are in the driver’s seat. The ultimate luxury experience, with personalised watches you can choose just about everything - from the kind of movement you fancy, the case material and the decoration of the dial, to the difficult decision of whether or not to have a setting of precious stones.
DeLaneau was founded by a woman in 1949, is run by women today, and has never wavered in its commitment to make “exceptional jewellery timepieces for women”. DeLaneau watches are exclusively made-to-measure, with an invitation to embark on a journey of “co-creation”. What makes a DeLaneau watch truly unique is the extraordinary work of the master craftswomen who practice the Genevan art of Grand Feu enamelling on site.
On my last visit, I popped up to the second floor to see where Florence, the in-house enamel artist, works her alchemy on the miniature surface of a dial. The beauty of DeLaneau’s signature enamel dials - which take more than 100 hours to paint - is showcased in The Elements timepiece with its detailed and lush depiction of tropical flora and fauna. The 42mm red gold case is adorned with a rainbow of 74 precious stones and 116 brilliant-cut diamonds, and is equipped with a top-of-the-line Swiss automatic movement.
The world’s oldest watch manufacture knows a thing or two about personalised watches to whet the appetites of collectors. Henry Graves Jr., the New York banker, King Farouk of Egypt and other notable men with deep pockets and a passion for horology have all commissioned pieces from Vacheron Constantin. But no watch fanatic will ever forget the earth-shattering launch of Reference 57260 in September 2015, the most complicated pocket watch ever made with 57 complications. What came as an even greater surprise was the fact that this Vacheron Constantin watch was custom-made for a client in New York.
Well, you too can aspire to have your very own bespoke Vacheron Constantin watch, courtesy of the Atelier Cabinotiers Special Order Service offered by the manufacture. All you have to do is decide how many complications you fancy - a once-a-year chime to remind you of a special date, for example - what kind of case and display will suit your dream watch, and a choice of dial decoration, engraving and wrist strap. The rest will be taken care of by the team of master watchmakers and artisans devoted to making your dream come true and who have, rest assured, taken a very strict vow of silence.
Founded in 2013 by husband and wife team Craig and Rebecca Struthers, the London-based Struthers London takes customised watches to an entirely different level and makes a distinction between tailor-made and bespoke services. Clients availing themselves of a tailor-made timepiece get to choose from a selection of case, dial and strap candidates. Even more original, however, is the bespoke service in which Craig and Rebecca will design the watch of your dreams from the ground up. Commissions have included personalised watches inspired by a pair of antique shotguns or a high jewellery watch made using the diamonds from a client's earrings.
Since birth, Jaeger-LeCoultre watches have been ideal candidates for customisation, particularly the Reverso. Thanks to its reversible case and dual personality, many clients have had the caseback engraved, while others have commissioned miniature masterpieces by Mucha, Renoir and Klimt, as well as the unforgettable Van Gogh Sunflowers collection.
This year, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduces the Atelier Service, offering a selection of dial combinations, gem-setting options and a wide range of watch straps, including this scintillating leather strap made by cult shoe designer Christian Louboutin.
Word of warning: depending on the complexity of your request, don’t expect to see overnight deliveries on any of these creations. Arm yourself with patience; after all, Vacheron Constantin’s Reference 57260 took eight long years to develop.