Artisans de Genève Introduces the Daytona “La Barrichello”

A customised watch for Rubens Barrichello.

Anyone who followed Formula 1 in the 1990s to the early 2000s would remember Rubens Barrichello as effective driver. Though the Brazilian did not win any championships, he notched up 11 wins and 68 podium finishes.

Like many fellow Formula 1 drivers, Mr Barrichello likes watches and was once an Audemars Piguet ambassador; the Royal Oak Offshore Rubens Barrichello II of 2006 was one of the hottest watches of the era. 

Unsurprisingly, Mr Barrichello is apparently a fan of the Rolex Daytona – arguably the auto racing watch – explaining his collaboration with Artisans de Genève, a Swiss outfit that specialises in customising Rolex watches. They gave his Rolex Daytona a makeover to create “La Barrichello”, a strikingly and heavily modified Cosmograph Daytona with an open-worked movement.

Notably, Artisans de Genève just last year performed a similar custom job on a Daytona belonging to Juan-Pablo Montoya, another F1 driver who was active in the sport at the same time as Mr Barrichello. Both drivers’ skeletonised watches are novel in a good way; much of Artisans de Genève’s other creations are modern Daytonas modified to look like vintage “Paul Newman” Daytonas, which is arguably less interesting.

Artisans de Geneve La Barrichello 1

Creative differences

“La Barrichello” started out as the all-steel Daytona ref. 116520, which is the preceding generation of Daytona that was first introduced in 2000 before being replaced by the ref. 116500LN (distinguished by its ceramic bezel) in 2016.

Mr Barrichello wanted his Daytona to look “mechanical” – a familiar look for F1-inspired watches – resulting in a watch that’s Daytona meets Richard Mille meets Hublot. It has an open dial that reveals the skeletonised base plate that in turn shows off bits of the cal. 4130 movement that are otherwise hidden, including the mainspring and chronograph wheels.

Artisans de Geneve La Barrichello bezel

Though the original, stock Daytona ref. 116520 has a steel bezel, this is fitted with a black ceramic bezel produced by Artisans de Genève. Though it’s reminiscent of the bezel found on the current Rolex model, it features entirely different markings the same material, sees different markings from the updated bezel of the ref. 116500LN. The tachymetric scale, for instance, is graduated to “500”, instead of “400” as on the Rolex bezel.

The entirety of the case has a matte, brushed finish, in contrast to the alternating brushed and polished surfaces of the stock Daytona. At the same time, the pushers and crown have been coated in black amorphous diamond-like carbon (ADLC).

Minimalist dial

Artisans de Geneve La Barrichello dial

The dial of the watch is thoroughly skeletonised, leaving only the chapter rings for the seconds, minute track, and chronograph registers. Notably, the 12-hour counter has been enlarged, giving the dial an asymmetrical layout that is reminiscent of vintage chronographs (one if which Longines recently remade as the Avigation BigEye Chronograph).

Artisans de Geneve La Barrichello 3

And because the dial has disappeared, the branding has been printed on the underside of the sapphire crystal, a move that might get Artisans de Genève in trouble with the legal department at Rolex.


Artisans de Geneve La Barrichello 2

Rebuilding the 4130

But more notable than the nips and tucks to the dial and case is the reworking of the Rolex cal. 4130 chronograph movement. According to Artisans de Genève, the movement was disassembled and then certain components singled out to be skeletonised and bevelled by hand.

Artisans de Geneve La Barrichello 4

In addition, the rotor is produced by Artisans de Genève, first cast in 21k gold then open-worked to resemble a wheel rim, before being bevelled by hand and coated in ADLC.

Artisans de Geneve La Barrichello rotor

In total, 260 hours are required to customise each watch, according to Artisans de Genève. Despite all the work done, “La Barrichello” retains the 100m water resistance and 72 hours of power reserve of the stock Daytona.

Artisans de Geneve La Barrichello 5

Key facts

Diameter: 40mm
Height: 12mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 100m

Movement: Self-winding cal. 4130 with 21ct gold rotor
Frequency: 28,800bph, or 4Hz
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Customised rubber strap

Pricing and availability

The Artisans de Genève Rolex Daytona “La Barrichello” is a one-off and not for sale. For other timepieces customised by the workshop, visit the brand’s website here.


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Ventura Returns with the V-Matic Ego

Sleek and hardened titanium for under $1000.

Watch collectors who were around in the late 1990s and early 2000s would remember Ventura. It specialised in – literally – design watches. All its timepieces were created by noted industrial designers, including Flemming Bo Hansen and more frequently, Hannes Wettstein, who also designed the Nomos Zurich.

The house style was sleek, pared back, slightly Scandinavian, but also distinguished by unusual materials – Ventura made liberal use of surfaced hardened titanium (Titanox) and steel (Durinox), a great novelty at the time.

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The Ventura V-Matic Ego remake

But the brand made a pivot into high-end, self-winding electronic watches in the early 2000s, which unsurprisingly ended in Ventura going bust. Now Ventura is being resurrected by its former owner, UK-based watch importer Zeon Ltd (that’s in turn owned by a Hong Kong watch manufacturer), in partnership with Stephan Hürlemann, the designer who took over Wettstein’s studio after his death.

I liked very much what Ventura was doing back in the day – the combination of design and materials was unique – but the original watches were surprisingly expensive, particularly by the standards of the time. The new remakes manage to reproduce the original design in a similar alloy, at a notably affordable price.

Designer watches for less

The revived Ventura sticks to a tried and tested sales formula: direct to the consumer via crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, making the new Ventura watches notably affordable, starting at US$900. (Intriguingly, today’s Ventura is not the only offshoot of the original company. Pierre Nobs, one of the cofounders of the original Ventura in 1989, recently set up Bolido in partnership with a Swiss designer Simon Husslein.)

The first watch in the line-up is the V-matic Ego, an three-hand automatic with date. Stark and symmetrical, the original was one of the most recognisable Ventura watches, and the remake smartly manages to be almost an exact copy.

It has a 41mm case in the distinct style of the original, with inward sloping sides, short lugs and a practical, knurled crown.

Most importantly, the case is made of hardened titanium, just like the original. According to a Ventura representative, the case is not produced by the same specialist as the original, but it is of the same specification.

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Inside is an ETA 2892, the low-cost workhorse movement that does its job well, and will run for 42 hours on a full wind.

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The ETA 2892-A2 with a black-coated rotor bearing the Ventura logo

A thoughtful date

The new V-Matic Ego faithfully sticks to the original design, from the open-worked hands to the square hour markers. But crucially, and this is important, the watch retains Wettstein’s clever “dot” date display. The tens of the date numeral are represented by a dot, allowing for larger numerals and better legibility, while making the date display less cluttered.

ventura v-matic ego remake 8

The date reads “22”

As it was with the original, two dials are offered: a grained silver with blue hands and indices, or a stark black and white.

Both are available with either a leather strap, or hardened titanium bracelet for not very much more, making it a compelling upgrade. And the folding clasp for the leather strap is also a reproduction of that found on the original.

ventura v-matic ego remake 6

Key facts

Diameter: 41mm
Material: Hardened titanium
Water resistance: 30m

Movement: Automatic ETA 2892-A2
Frequency: 28,800bph, or 4Hz
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Black leather with folding clasp, or titanium link bracelet

Price and availability

The V-Matic Ego remake will be launched on Kickstarter on July 9, 2019. It’ll be priced at US$900 on a leather strap and US$1000 on the bracelet. After the Kickstarter campaign concludes, the official retail prices will be US$1350 and US$1500 respectively.

You can sign up on for a launch notification.


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