Modding watches is fun and popular. I have a Seiko 7002 with aftermarket hands and my name written on the dial, and I love that watch to death. But modding a white gold Rolex with platinum parts? That takes balls!
A few weeks ago at our latest Belgium Watch Club GTG (link) I shot a picture of what I thought was an ice blue platinum Rolex Day-Date with a fluted bezel. A few days later after reviewing my pictures of that night, I realized that Rolex never made platinum Day-Date’s with fluted bezels. I got in touch with the owner of the watch, and it turns out he changed the dial with original platinum Rolex parts. At that point, I knew I had to feature him here. He prefers to stay anonymous and goes by his IG handle WatchWalker.
What is the story behind your modded Day-Date?
WatchWalker: Three years ago on my birthday, I wanted to buy a Rolex Day-Date 1803 from my birth year in white gold. When I was looking at Day-Dates at my vintage dealer, I noticed a platinum ice blue dial Day-Date from 2003. I was smitten, the weight and feeling of the platinum was something totally different, and the ice blue dial was beautiful. I wanted to buy this watch, but there seemed to be an issue with the alignment of the day wheel. The dealer told me that he would fix it, but the repair turned out to be more complicated than expected. I didn’t get the Day-Date and ‘settled’ for a brand-new rose gold Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5167R. Back then, Aquanauts were just in stock, no waiting.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the beauty of the ice blue dial. A while later, I saw a white gold Day-Date with an ivory dial for sale. The dealer told me that he also had a platinum ice blue dial and hands in stock. I bought both and got the dial changed.
Does Rolex ‘allow’ that?
WatchWalker: They don’t. I once wore this watch at an event organized by a Rolex AD (authorized dealer). The saleswoman was very upset when she saw that I had a white gold DD with a blue dial. She came up to me and said ‘Sir, that’s not allowed.’ I got a bit pissed and I let her know that as long as I pay for it, I do with my property whatever I want.
In hindsight, that might have been a blunt remark on my part, but I don’t like it when someone tells me what is ‘allowed’ and what isn’t. I’m not a big fan of the arrogant behavior of certain brands or their representatives.
How did you get into watches?
WatchWalker: When I was about 6 years old, I found an old shoe box with mechanical watches in our attic. I was fascinated and wanted to open them to see the small wheels turn. My curiosity destroyed a lot of watches. I now presume (or at least hope) that these were all inexpensive watches at that time. Imagine a 6-year-old wrecking a Paul Newman Daytona with a screwdriver.
I always appreciated watches growing up, but I didn’t have the funds to buy nice watches. When I was 12, my godfather got me a Pronto. This is the only watch I will never sell, and the only one I still have from my youth.
My first ‘real’ watch was a Fortis B42 Flieger Automatic Chronograph. In 2002, my that time employer ordered a small batch of 500 Victorinox watches with their company logo on the dial. The supplier of these watches also sold Fortis, and he sold me my first ‘real’ watch. That Fortis really jump started my passion.
To show you how ‘new’ I was to horology: in my first month I wore this watch in a sauna and consequently in a pool. The watch of course quickly filled up with condensation, but was fortunately fixed under warranty.
The past 5 years, I must have bought close to one hundred watches but also sold a few dozen. Of course, it’s impossible to keep them all.
What is your grail watch?
WatchWalker: My current grail is a platinum Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711P. Eversince I bought a steel 5711, I have been craving for the platinum version. Unfortunately, the prices have tripled the last three years, so a 5711P won’t be for any time soon.
My ‘ultimate grail’ is a moving target. For many years my grail was a steel Daytona. I bought a new one in 2015 but sold it shortly after, unfortunately just before the hype. To me, screw down pushers on a chronograph don’t really make sense. Moreover I chose the black dial and that one turned out not to be very legible.
Other grails are primarily independents, like H. Moser & Cie, Konstantin Chaykin, Roger Smith… I would love to own one of their watches, but the resell value always holds me back.
Rolex and Patek are safe havens but with independents you could lose a lot of money. I’m not in a position where I can afford to lose a couple of ten thousands in a blink of an eye.