Artisans de Genève Fake Rolex Albino

Artisans de Geneve fake Rolex

“The Rolex Daytona Oyster Albino 6263 fascinates collectors for its rarity and unique aesthetics,” Rolex modder Artisans de Genève proclaims. “The first piece appeared in 1971, and there would be only three in the world. It was made emblematic by its monochrome silver dial, which earned it the famous nickname ‘Albino.'” You guessed it: Artisans de Genève built a fake Rolex Albino. Sorry, “tribute.” Here’s the real thing . . .

Rolex Albino

There are a LOT of differences between Artisans de Genève’s Tribute and the original Rolex 6263 Albino. The Artisans’ bezel is a different color, with different markings. The pushers, subdials and hands are different. The dial’s typography is different.

The Artisan’s “tribute” is powered by a modified Rolex Caliber 4130 movement, altered from automatic to manual wind. The original holstered Rolex’s Caliber 727, based on the legendary Valjoux 72.

Artisans de Geneve detail

I’m sure Rolexaholics can spot other diversions from the original. Aside from the white dial, the tribute doesn’t look anything like the Albino that Eric Clapton off-loaded for a cool half a mil in 2003.

As TTAW commentator Mark D. Stroyer observed, the Albino “tribute” scans more like a 40mm coaxial Speedmaster than a Daytona.

Even so, you’d think Rolex’s army of lawyers would sue Artisans de Genève for copyright and trademark infringement. And while they’re at it, shut down the Artisan’s other high-profile Rolex mods (e.g., the aesthetically-challenged John McEnroe Lefty Project).

It’s not like Rolex hasn’t done it before . . .

Rolex modified by laCalifornienne

In December 2019, Rolex sued modder laCalifornienne for “benefitting and profiting from Rolex’s outstanding reputation for high quality products and its significant advertising and promotion of Rolex watches and the company’s trademarks, making it seem as though its watches are authorized, sponsored, or approved by Rolex when they are not.”

Facing a legal team with unlimited resources, laCalifornienne folded like a cheap suit. At the same time – and not coincidentally – Rolex modder Mad Paris suddenly went offline. So how did Artisans de Genève avoid the banhammer?

Artisans of Geneve throwback Rolex caseback

I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve had some experience with U.S. copyright law. Specifically, I recreated a gun design advertised by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. My counsel advised me not to sweat it – there’s an exception for one-off “tributes” that include recognizable trademarks or designs. They’re exempted from copyright infringement laws as “art.”

This theory would explain the disclaimer on the Albino Tribute Project web page: “Service not available. Because we provide crafts services made in a very limited capacity, Artisans de Genève is not able to satisfy all demands.” In other words, you can’t buy an Albino Tribute, but you can commission something else. Maybe.

Fake Rolex on its side

Artisans de Genève is sailing close to the wind. They’re trading off of Rolex reputation – if only by using the Swiss watchmaker’s easily identifiable case, bracelet and trademarks. Remember: trademark and patent law requires companies to aggressively defend their intellectual property. As Hamilton modder Vortic knows all too well.

That said, Vortic is “upcycling” old Hamilton pocket watches no longer in production. Artisans de Genève is modifying existing Rolex. While anything can be art – and there’s no question that the Artisans de Genève are artisans- the modder’s confusing potential Rolex customers. That’s a big no-no (to use the legal term).

Rolex ad

As professional valuer Gareth Brown recently revealed, Rolex used to modify their watches to suit their customers’ tastes. It’s a damn shame Rolex has adopted a “make any change to our watch and we won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole” policy for their modern models. But that’s their prerogative.

Ironically, the prospect of Rolex wielding their banhammer against Artisans de Genève increases the potential value of their modified Rolex. If not now, soon.

7 thoughts on “Artisans de Genève Fake Rolex Albino”

  1. Honestly that scans more like a 40mm coaxial Speedmaster than a Daytona. Of course the difference here is that those are probably the gray-market deal of the century at just over $2k, and are generally speaking legible.

    Are we really at the level where ~this~ kind of homage happens? Firstly, rip off an expensive model but then do it badly so it only kiiiinda fits?

    Geez Louise, no wonder the industry’s slowly circling the drain, this kind of thing is clogging it.

    1. I got my 40 coax Speedmaster for right around that price; you’re right it’s a screaming deal for what you get.

      Stuff like the above is indicative of the creative bankruptcy of the watch industry.

  2. If you were a lawyer and worked in the area of intellectual property, you’d likely be aware that Artisans de Geneve–unlike LaCalifornienne–does not sell watches. You buy the watch, in stock for, usually from AdG, andtand customize it for you afterward. No law against that. Rolex has some of the most aggressive lawyers and the planet and routinely makes legal arguments that border on ludicrous. The fact that they did not sue tells you bluntly that Rolex knows it has no chance.

    The use of IP to attempt to enforce some people’s tastes will always fail when the modifications are made at the owner’s request. Changes made at the owner’s request will never cause the buyer to be “confused about the identity of the manufacturer.’

    I’m sorry you detest this watch so deeply, but IP lawsuits aren’t effective in the way you hope. It would be equivalent to a car company suing their open customer for painting a car day-glow orange. But neither you or I can be forced to buy, wear, or even like the watch.

  3. Well… That’s an unusually reasonable response (in these polarized times). I’m going to have to apologize for the tone of my comment. Sorry.

    I should have made my own bias clear: I own one of these watches. I love it, couldn’t care less about the fact that it may not appreciate like some Rolexes. I like the mechanics of the watch and dig skeletonized (and I know that that is the minority view).

    I’m also an attorney, though not in IP. A central tenet of IP protection is to prevent a person from being tricked into buying some non-genuine product, in this case a watch, thinking it was made by the OEM. For that reason, the act of selling an OEM condition watch and then modifying the watch to the customer’s specifications is not, as a general rule, illegal. As the buyer, I wasn’t tricked into buying something that I thought was genuine and then getting something that wasn’t genuine. I bought something OEM and paid to have it changed.

    LaCalifornienne was selling revamped Rolex watches directly to consumers. The tact Rolex took is a definition of “counterfeit” that frankly wouldn’t hold water in front of an unfriendly judge (my opinion). Rolex claims modification of a genuine watch INTO a counterfeit. Someday Rolex’s house of IP cards is going to come crashing down. It won’t be a lawsuit against a two person upcycling company. The size of the bottom line at Rolex paradoxically means it will win virtually every lawsuit it is involved until lawyers who are really only attracted because of that big dollar figure come calling.

    That’s probably longer than it needed to be, but I felt like it should be explained. I didn’t want a typical Rolex- I have owned a couple and I just didn’t really enjoy them like some people do. Rolex didn’t lose a sale to me because I bought their watch. They got the sale. I just wanted mine to be wildly different after that.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It doesn’t offend me that many people don’t like the look of my watch. *I* like it. I do get a little angry when people talk about suing a company that modified my watch the way I want it to look. Maybe my sentiment will change your outlook on the AdG modified watches. And, of course, if the watch hadn’t started out as a Rolex it wouldn’t be acceptable to build a watch and slap Rolex’s name on it. That’s counterfeiting by anyone’s definition.

    Thanks for reminding me that sometimes reasonable people don’t agree without becoming unreasonable. Oh, and for the record, I think the people at LaCalifornienne were doing something kind of cool by making undesirable watches fun and cool. But, again, the aesthetics aren’t going to appeal to everyone. A bright beach-ish themed watch wouldn’t go over all that well.

    Good luck with the blog.

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