Personalisation, the trend for taking an existing item and stamping it with your own distinct identity, is today’s truest form of luxury. When the customer, in effect, becomes co-designer, the finished product is the ultimate expression of their individuality. From bags to shoes and from cars to mobile phones, personalisation satisfies the modern desire for greater exclusivity.




While still a fairly new phenomenon in the watch industry, the ability to customise a standard piece to precise specifications is starting to attract a growing number of people in search of something profoundly unique.


Whereas once the only way to personalise a watch was to engrave your own particular message on the back of the case, consumers are now exercising total control over the final look.


In much the same way as Nike enables their customers to specify the colours for the various parts of their shoes, watch manufacturers are starting to offer bespoke customisation options over aspects of their products as well, in order to satisfy their client’s personal taste.


The Apple Watch is one example. As well as offering their new timepiece with a customisable face, Apple have also invited third-party accessory makers to create a range of cases and bands to supplement their own designs. The number of different possible combinations of materials, colours and styles is almost limitless.




At the very top of the market, independent customisation houses have also emerged. Similar to the type of automotive tuning firms that personalise high-end marques such as Mercedes or Range Rover, these design companies view the standard watch as a mere starting point–almost a blank canvas on which to imprint the wearer’s personality.


Working closely with highly skilled designers and craftsmen, the final look of the watch is limited only by the customer’s imagination. From bespoke components and quirky face designs to gem-setting and inlaying, the watch becomes an interpretation of the owner’s personal story.


Once scorned by watch purists and aficionados, these custom houses are slowly becoming more accepted in the industry as the desire by people to display their individuality grows. Recognising that every customer has their own style, they are able to take a watch that one step further.


At a time when luxury is being increasingly mass marketed, personalisation, something of a long-forgotten art, is gaining momentum. If a watch, even a highly valuable one, is available to anybody with a healthy enough bank balance, it becomes ‘just another watch’. There will always be a demand for exclusivity from uncompromising clients.


While enjoying a burgeoning fan base amongst collectors, modification is something that certain manufacturers are less than happy about. Brands such as Rolex consider their warranty void on even the most superficially altered models. However, custom houses are confident enough in the quality of their work that they are able to offer clients their own warranties, independent of the original maker.


By investing time and effort, as well as money, into the creation of a personalised watch, the wearer builds an emotional connection with the piece–far more so than by simply buying it at a boutique. Fulfilling that most basic of human needs, the desire to feel special, personalisation is a trend that is set to grow and grow.