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Artisans de Genève Takes Up The Armstrong Challenge

The watch’s striking open working is enhanced by the removal of the automatic winding mechanism.

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Artisans de Genève, known for its remarkable watch personalizations, has recently completed the Armstrong Challenge, for athlete and cyclist, Lance Armstrong. The founder of the LIVESTRONG Foundation, Armstrong approached Artisans de Genève with a request to add retro functions to his Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116520 while being very lightweight. According to the Swiss customization workshop, “With the project ‘ARMSTRONG’ he wanted to return to the essence of the very first timepieces while adding elements of his personal story. Lance’s personalization blends retro functions: pulse, winding mechanism, with an innovative design. Lance, naturally chose the colors black and yellow, a nod to his inspirations and career. The skeleton cut is an inspiration from his past life and a watch that was a gift from a dear friend he wanted to preserve.”

To fulfill the challenge, Artisans de Genève developed a pulse dial with dual counters at 3 and 6 o’clock so he could count time during his races. Cyclists need both power and endurance, and measuring the pulse is vital for finding this delicate balance. Lance remembered this era when racers used to read time to count their pulse. He wanted to be able to calculate his heart rate with a pulse function that we developed for the first time. Even the Rolex caliber 4130 was converted from automatic to manual wound in order to allow for more visibility of the mechanism and give the watch a retro-feel that Armstrong desired. Included in the personalization, is an open-worked dial with yellow accents and uniquely designed yellow hands – a seconds hand with a thunder shape – eliciting the yellow color of Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG Foundation.

Armstrong considers his life to be an open book, and he wanted his personalization to reflect that. Artisans de Genève, therefore, skeletonized the Rolex caliber 4130. Before being sandblasted and beveled by hand, they had to develop a manual winding mechanism that allows each element of the movement to be seen. The power reserve remained identical to the original at 72 hours. The balance bridge, an essential detail of the movement, is handcrafted with a black matt finish. “For most men, a watch is just an accessory. But for me it goes deeper, it’s about the story,” states Armstrong. “My main inspiration wasn’t sport but retro watches. I liked the idea of counting my heart rate the old-fashioned way —using seconds— and rediscovering what it means to wear and to wind a watch. My life has been visible to the world and so I loved this sense of opening up my watch and being able to see everything inside it.”

For more news about Artisans de Genève’s work, check out the Honey Pearl Project.

Artisans de Genève is an independent company specialized in the personalization of timepieces. Artisans de Genève is not affiliated with Rolex SA nor authorized by them to intervene on their products for any reason whatsoever. This personalization was ordered by Lance Armstrong for his private use.