What you’re about to see might surprise you: This is a a modified Rolex Daytona designed by filmmaker Spike Lee. I know, right? This is definitely not what I expected to land in my inbox earlier this week, but it certainly caught my attention when it did. While this isn’t the type of thing we tend to write about here on HODINKEE, Spike Lee is a serious creative force and we thought it was worthwhile to take a closer look at this one.
If you’re unfamiliar with Les Artisans de Genève, the idea behind the company is pretty simple. Essentially they create aftermarket modified Rolex watches that fall into two basic categories. First, there are the tribute watches that take a fully modern Rolex and adjust it to look more like a vintage piece. So far, Les Artisans de Genève has created tributes to various Daytonas (including the ref. 6263, the Paul Newman ref. 6241, and others), the Milgauss ref. 1019, and the “Big Crown” Submariner. The second type of watch they create are collaborations with noted creatives. The first in this project was a Daytona made with musician Lenny Kravitz and his Kravitz Design brand.
The next installment in that latter series is what we have here. The watch is called “Cool Hand Brooklyn” and it’s a Daytona that pays tribute to Lee’s home borough of New York City. The watch starts with a reference 116520 Daytona (the steel Daytona with steel bezel and white dial) but looks radically different from what you’ll find if you pick up that original reference.
The watch has a bold blue and orange color scheme, a nod to the colors of New York City (and the New York Knicks, at whose games Lee is often seen courtside). These colors carry through from the sunburst blue dial, with its orange markers and hands, to the blue bakelite bezel with an orange “Units Per Hour” marking at three o’clock. Even the pushers now show these colors too. There’s also an arched “Brooklyn” signature above the sub-register at six o’clock where you might expect to see “Daytona” on vintage models. You’ll notice that the shape of the case has been drastically changed, with the lugs much slimmer than before. Additionally, the crown guards have been removed and the screw down pushers have been replaced with simpler pump pushers.
If you turn the watch over, you’ll see even more modifications. The stainless steel caseback now features a big sapphire window, giving you a look at the Rolex caliber inside. The movement has had a different winding rotor attached, with this one made of solid gold that’s been coated with a rich blue color that matches the dial. There are also filled engravings noting the limited edition, with each individually numbered.
Lee and Les Artisans de Genève CEO John Isaac had a chance meeting at the Soho Apple Store that ended up being the start of this project. Lee says that he’s been a longtime Paul Newman fan and that the actor and his passion for watches was a big part of his inspiration when putting this watch together. Obviously the name is a not-so-subtle reference to the Daytona-loving actor.
The Cool Hand Brooklyn is a limited edition of 40 pieces and is priced at $39,800. Each is made to order for the customer. For more, visit Les Artisans de Genève online.