Watches have, to some degree, long been customisable. A second strap is often second nature to some luxury brands (which you’d hope for, given the price tag), while others settle for an engraving to the caseback – ‘Happy 21st Adam’ and so on. For some, however, the personal touch needs to be more a thump. “A lot of watches are customisable on a very basic level, yet few allow you to take full charge of the creative process,” says Niklas Dahlgren, CEO of bespoke watch brand Boom. “Full customisation is a relatively new and quickly emerging trend in the watch market – one that lets customers tailor a watch to meet their tastes.” What’s more, the Swiss old guard has largely left the customisation market alone, leaving a big gap for more affordable, everyday brands to fill. These are the best of the bunch.
Swatch has quite the roster of big name fans: figures as diverse as Pharrell Williams, Tony Blair and Denzel Washington all wear them. If their favourite models aren’t quite up to scratch though, you can now create your own piece thanks to the label’s new Swatch x You service. With diameters ranging from a modest 34mm to a more robust 41mm, the Swiss brand offers a kit of dials, straps and other elements that you put together as you see fit. Plus, at prices comfortably under £100 mark, you don’t need a celebrity pay packet to own one. Prices start at approx. £45 at swatch.com
Customised watches aren’t all of the mass-produced variety. EONIQ (a fancy way of spelling ‘unique’, apparently) is a Hong Kong-based outfit that lets customers mix ‘n’ match features usually seen on higher end watches: skeleton dials, visible movement windows and the like. Better yet, each piece is powered by one of several impressive movements favoured by the likes of Seiko and Citizen. Which means the watch you design isn’t all about looks. Prices start at approx. £235 at eoniq.co
Fossil – once the go-to brand for dad gifts – is now making a play for the younger generation with full customisation. Its online personalisation service allows customers to select every component from a range of pre-designed options: the bezel, strap, dial and case is all down to you – just select whatever makes you tick. Prices start at approx. £145 at fossil.com
Unlike other customisation services, Swedish brand Boom takes note of specific watch trends and throws them into the mix, sitting rose gold Milanese straps next to more staple options. You can select a dial, case, bezel and strap, and your watch needn’t stick to one single aesthetic either. Boom provides multiple dials from the aeronautical to the minimalist to the downright classic, so there’s a combo to cater to every taste. Prices start at approx. £100 at boomwatches.com
Bamford Watch Department
Since a Rolex is often the most prized (and priciest) of watches, many think the brand is untouchable. Not the folks at Bamford Watch Department. They buy new Rolexes and apply industrial coatings and other modifications before selling them on. The brand creates limited edition pieces from the label’s mainline – think red dial Submariners, a day-glo Milgauss or a piece crafted entirely to your personal specs. Sure, the warranty may no longer be valid, but a one-off Rollie is well worth a slapped wrist. Prices start at approx. £7,000 at bamfordwatchdepartment.com
If other customisation brands are like a pick ‘n’ mix counter, consider Brüggler the surgeon’s table. Almost every aspect can be handpicked, including minute markers, individual gemstones, sub-dials, and even the choice between a quartz or automatic movement. That said, such a bespoke piece costs quite the handsome sum, and Brüggler’s more complex creations can easily hit the thousands. Prices start at approx. £2,800 at bruggler.com