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For over a decade, the craftspeople at Artisans de Genève have been honing their skills by transforming production-model timepieces into unrivaled masterpieces that align with a concept borne of their clients’ imagination. From skeletonized Submariners to delicately detailed Daytonas, every individual project brings its own unique technical obstacles to overcome. When the team was approached by an enthusiast with an avant-garde concept for a uniquely deconstructed Patek Phillipe Nautilus, the entire crew embarked upon an artistic sojourn that would inevitably push the limits of their collective abilities. Despite the once-looming immensity of this undertaking, the end result is now a reality in the form of the “Pearl Project.”
The Patek Philippe Nautilus is a timepiece that requires little introduction. This Gerald Genta-designed sports watch is a favorite among celebrities and collectors, alike. Originally introduced in the mid-1970s, the Nautilus subtly evokes a maritime aesthetic while serving as a masterclass in design. The steel armor protecting the 3 o’clock crown is expertly mirrored by the additional stainless steel buildup at 9 o’clock. The simple curvature of the case shape flows flawlessly into the bold integrated bracelet that is so iconic among Genta designs.
A critical component of the work performed by Artisans de Genève is to maintain respect for the timepiece and the history behind it, while simultaneously adding details and modifications that complement rather than detract from the legacy. This is a heavy lift in the case of the recently discontinued reference 5711 Nautilus but one that all involved were prepared to take on. The end goal of skeletonizing the timepiece required alteration to the bezel, dial, hands, and movement.
In order to remain in line with the sports watch DNA of the Nautilus, a brand-new octagonal bezel was created specifically for this project. This handcrafted, carbon-forged component adds striking contrast around the dial while adding a new-age material to the timeless design. The singularly random stratification throughout the bezel takes on an onyx-adjacent appearance while serving as a matte-finished frame around the face.
An area in which Artisans de Genève truly excels is its ability to reduce the amount of material in a dial or movement through the process of skeletonization. The dial on this particular Nautilus is a testament to the finesse and dexterity required in this process. The entirety of the remaining dial material has been hand-beveled, adding further detail to the already mind-boggling dimensionality that exists just below the sapphire crystal.
Like ancient treasure scattered throughout a mechanical labyrinth, the faceted rose-gold indices glimmer against the matte-finished minutes track. The matching hands of the Nautilus were developed specifically for this project with superior legibility at the forefront of the creation. After being meticulously carved and beveled, both are decorated with a satin finish running through the center, on opposing ends of the luminescent material. The seconds hand, also rose gold, has been entirely sandblasted for contrasting texture. The subtle aureate addition of precious metal presents a playful dichotomy with the stainless steel of the case and bracelet, along with the forged carbon bezel.
Although there is an immense amount of craft that is evident when viewing the Nautilus for the purpose of telling time, the simple act of flipping it over reveals an entirely new realm of detail. The sapphire caseback allows unfettered views of the thoroughly customized 26-330 calibre movement. This represents the portion of the “Pearl Project” that proved most time-consuming. Ultimately, it took Artisans de Genève three years to design and achieve the desired result. The mirror-polished balance bridge, created exclusively for this project, shines like quicksilver among its fellow components. A combination of satin-polished and circular-grained pieces works synergistically to support the 21k-gold rotor adorned with the classic Patek Philippe logo. Encircling this one-of-a-kind movement is a custom caseback that bears the name “Pearl Project,” a fitting finishing touch for such a timepiece.
The reason that the moniker “Pearl Project” was chosen for this endeavor relates to how the client felt about the Nautilus upon seeing the finished product. The team at Artisans de Genève was able to maintain all of the qualities and details that made the watch iconic, to begin with — designated the “pearl” of his collection — and applied their well-honed skills in order to transform it into a Nautilus like no other. The “Pearl Project” is a physical representation of the devotion and meticulous attention to detail that is a shared value among each and every member of the Artisans de Genève family. This is the reason they have reached the upper echelon of watch customization. As evidenced by the “Pearl Project,” if you have a timepiece, a vision, and the foresight to work with the team at Artisans de Genève, the world is your oyster.
Artisans de Genève is an independent company specialized in the personalization of timepieces. Artisans de Genève is not affiliated with PATEK PHILIPPE SA nor authorized by them to intervene on their products for any reason whatsoever. This personalization was ordered for private use by a customer who owns a Patek Philippe® timepiece.
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