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The 2 Best Ways to Customize a Luxury Watch like Rolex and AP

The 2 Best Ways to Customize a Luxury Watch like Rolex and AP

used rolex

In the past few years, we’ve witnessed a surging interest in aftermarket luxury watch customizations. So, we’ve decided to exhibit the two best and most popular ways that you can customize your luxury Swiss watch. Read on to learn everything you’ll need to know.

customize watch with aftermarket watch strap

There are various ways to customize a luxury watch like a Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe, such as aftermarket watch straps, aftermarket diamond settings, PVD coating, and more. Depending on which type of “watch modding” you choose, these aftermarket, bespoke watch customizations can completely, or subtly, change the look of your watch in a wonderful manner. 

At Diamonds By Raymond Lee, we do several types of watch modifications. However, in this post, we will only be detailing two ways to customize your luxury watch, as they are the best and most popular types of customizations.

The 2 best and most popular ways to customize a luxury watch

  1. Aftermarket Watch Straps
  2. Aftermarket Diamond or Gem Settings (indices, dial, bezel, case, bracelet, clasp)

Although there are other ways to customize your watch besides the two options above, for example engravings and PVD coatings, these are the two main ways we customize luxury watches at Diamonds By Raymond Lee, and in our opinion, they are the best options. So, that’s why we are only focusing on these two.

Note: It’s highly recommend that watch customizations remain outside of the case, i.e. external changes. This means avoiding any customizations of the movement. We say this for two main reasons. First, it’s extremely complicated. Second, it’s very expensive. And third, you will be completely voiding your watch’s warranty. 

1. Changing the Strap: Aftermarket Watch Straps

aftermarket watch straps

Although switching from one metal bracelet to a different metal bracelet is something people opt to do, such as switching a Rolex Oyster bracelet to a Jubilee, the majority of strap and bracelet modifications consist of changing a bracelet to a strap, or changing a strap to another strap. With exception to upgrading the same type of bracelet to a more contemporary model – i.e., Rolex has changed their metal bracelets from hollow end links to solid end links, which is clearly superior. That said, this change is something only the person wearing it will notice, as it feels more solid, but doesn’t look different. Therefore, we won’t be discussing this point any further here. We are only going to be focusing on altering the look of watch here. 

Now, while Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and the other high-end Swiss watch brands have incredibly beautiful watch straps and bracelets, sometimes it’s nice to switch to a strap that matches your personal taste, your clothes, your shoes, or even your car. And, the best part is, it’s a simple matter to change it back. 

Because changing the strap or bracelet on your watch isn’t a permanent change, this is the most popular aftermarket customization for luxury watches. 

In regards to aesthetics and tastefulness, even though Rolex has the most recognizable bracelets in the world – the Oyster, Jubilee, and President bracelet – at times, throwing on a luxurious rubber strap can be utterly aesthetically pleasing. Especially if you appreciate a sporty look. All in all, changing to a rubber strap will by no means take away from the beauty of the watch, or the value. 

High Quality Watch Straps
where to buy an aftermarket watch straps

With the right aftermarket watch strap company, you will be getting a watch strap that is equally as high quality as an OEM luxury watch strap. 

We are talking looks, comfort, quality, integration…the whole nine.

Our favorite aftermarket watch strap company is Horus Watch Straps.

Horus Watch Straps

Horus Watch Straps offers premium quality replacement watch straps for Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Panerai, and many other high-end brands. Moreover, each of their straps were designed for specific models. For example, the GMT Master II or the Royal Oak Offshore. This way the straps perfectly integrate with the case. 

Horus Straps have incredible awesome and versatile designs, and the quality is top-notch. This is why Horus Watch Straps is loved by celebrities, clients, and staff alike. They are also loved by Diamonds By Raymond Lee. So much so that we’ve become an authorized retailer of Horus Watch Straps. So, if you want the best aftermarket watch straps on the market, you can find them at Diamonds By Raymond Lee in a plethora of styles and designs. 

Note: Horus Watch Straps come with a small tool that makes installation of the strap seamless and fast. That way, you can change your strap up in an instant.

Brand new look
replacement watch straps for rolex

Changing the strap of your luxury watch can truly give it a brand new look. This is because the strap takes up the most surface area of the watch as a whole. In fact, the strap or bracelet of a watch is typically the first thing people notice when glancing at your watch, which, of course, makes sense due to the real estate it takes up on the wrist…

So, with a different strap, a large majority of your watch will be revamped. 

Match your watch strap to your clothes or shoes
matching aftermarket watch strap to shoes

This is a great example. Here we have an Orange Camo Horus Strap that goes great with this pair of Yeezy Boost 350 VS Clays. 

Rubber Watch Straps are affordable, so you can get multiple styles for the price of one factory strap. By having various colors and styles of straps, you can switch up your straps just like you switch up your shoes. 

People with a strong sense of fashion love this, as it looks great and it’s quick and easy…

It’s so easy that it literally only takes a few seconds to change your strap, thanks to one little tool that comes with your strap from Horus Watch Straps or any other respectable aftermarket watch strap company. 

Match your watch strap to your car
best aftermarket watch straps

If you really want to take the ultimate harmonious approach, you can match your watch to your car thanks to the plentiful options of aftermarket watch straps on the market. This is a next level fashion statement, and one we greatly appreciate.

aftermarket watch straps Boca Raton

Here’s the perfect example of that. Not only does this green Horus Strap go flawlessly with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Rubberclad, but it also matches the Porsche 911 GT3RS to a T.

2. Add Diamonds to Your Watch: Aftermarket Diamond Settings

ways to customize my watch

Another ubiquitous method of customizing a luxury watch is to set it with diamonds and precious stones. Of course, this is a significantly more expensive option than changing a watch’s strap.

First, you have a few options for what kind of aftermarket gemstones you can set into your watch. There’s diamonds, black diamonds, fancy colored diamonds, CVD (lab grown diamonds), and precious gems (sapphires being the most common for gemstones). 

Next, you have numerous options for where you set the gems within your watch.

For example, you can set aftermarket diamonds in your bezel, dial, case, bracelet and clasp; you can also make a small, subtle customization by adding diamond hour markers; you can set diamonds in one, two, three, or all of these pieces. It all depending on how big (or small) you want to go. That said, there are common diamond settings that people go for, such as a bezel and hour marker aftermarket diamond customization, or a bezel, case and bracelet setting, or a full flooded, completely diamond covered setting where every element and millimeter of your watch is set with aftermarket stones. 

Below we will talk about, and show examples of, various custom aftermarket diamond settings that our master jeweler has done on-site at Diamonds By Raymond Lee. We will also make note of options that are not “permanent”, at least in regards to the original watch components.

Custom Aftermarket Diamond BEZEL

customize a rolex bezel

Setting diamonds in bezels is one of the most prevalent aftermarket diamond customizations for luxury watches. 

A great thing about choosing a bezel customization is that you can have a jeweler make a bezel from scratch. That way you can keep your original bezel, allowing you to put it back on if you ever decide you want a less flashy appeal. Moreover, if you want to resell you watch, you can put the original bezel back on, thus retaining the full value of your watch. Plus, the bezel will have intrinsic value that you can capitalize on as well.

Here is a custom diamond bezel that we made from scratch at Diamonds By Raymond Lee.

make a diamond bezel from scratch

Read all about the process that went into creating this custom aftermarket diamond Rolex bezel.

Now, it should be noted, not every jeweler can do this. We have the special tech and skill to make jewelry and watch parts from scratch. You may find that some jewelers will not be able to make a bezel from scratch and they will want to set diamonds in your existing bezel. Although this is something many people opt for, we would recommend that you instead purchase another bezel that fits your piece and have that one customized…or better yet, find a jeweler who can make a custom bezel from scratch.

Note: Diamonds By Raymond Lee accepts projects from around the world. We can handle everything online, so just contact us if you want to find out more.

If you do decide to set diamonds in your existing bezel, understand that you will lose value if that timepiece is a coveted model. Most watch collectors are purists, so they will want original everything. On the other hand, if you don’t plan to resell your watch and you know you will always appreciate the aftermarket diamond bezel, then do as you wish…

Another thing to consider is, if you will be adding diamonds to the case, then it really doesn’t matter if you set diamonds in you original bezel, as you will be making a permanent change with that.

So, if you only plan to change the bezel, see if you can get the customization done from scratch so you can keep the original piece. And if you plan to set diamonds in the case then don’t worry about it, set the original bezel. It’ll be less costly and it just makes more sense. 

Aftermarket Diamond DIAL Customization

aftermarket diamond customizations for dial

Custom diamond dials are also very popular. We call this kind of watch modification a “facelift”. This kind of customization requires a lot of time and skill, as the diamonds will need to be very tiny and the work requires intricate detailing. 

Personally, we love a good diamond watch facelift and we’ve done many, all too perfection thanks to our seasoned jeweler/watchmaker. 

For this option, you can set diamonds in your existing dial or you can purchase a separate dial and set diamonds in that. Thus keeping you original dial to the side. There are people who sell all kinds of Rolex pieces, so with a little foraging, you will find one. If you choose Diamonds By Raymond Lee, you won’t need to worry about this as we have extra dials.

Add Diamonds to your Watch CASE

adding diamond to watch case

Diamonds can be set in certain areas of your case, like only the lugs, or the whole top side of your case, or the entire case, including the flanks and pushers. We definitely suggest adding diamonds to the flanks if you are doing the top side. It simply looks better. Make note, that by adding diamonds in your case, you may be sacrificing your waterproofness. For this reason, vetting the company you hire to customize your watch is crucial. At Diamond By Raymond Lee, we ensure the watches we work on maintain their water resistance. 

Aftermarket Diamond Bracelet & Claps Setting

ways to customize a luxury watch

As with changing your bracelet or strap, setting diamonds in your bracelet will make a huge difference to the look of your watch. Again, it makes up a large area of a timepiece as a whole. If you want to completely freeze your wrist, an iced out bracelet is a great way to do so.

types of watch customizations

Different Diamond Settings for Luxury Watches

Now, you need to consider which of the above settings you will choose for your luxury Swiss watch. You can choose one of the above settings, or combine a few…or all. However, there are some common ways to go about. Moreover, it would look strange to have a diamond bracelet without a diamond case or bezel. Ergo, you shouldn’t just choose a diamond bracelet setting. On the other, having just a diamond bezel looks good, and it’s something Rolex does themselves.

So, here are the most popular aftermarket diamond settings.

Aftermarket Diamond Bezel and Hour Markers
where can I customize my rolex bezel

This is more on the subtle side of extravagant, but stunning nonetheless. It is definitely a classy option. 

Aftermarket Diamond Case and Bezel with a Rubber Strap
adding diamonds to watch

Gotta love this look. It is sporty yet opulent. Note: the rubber strap’s clasp is set with diamonds too!

Aftermarket Diamond Case, Bezel and Bracelet. 
customize rolex boca raton

You’ll be going close to all out on this one. However, leaving the face as is looks really good. Most dials are stunning as is so it works beautifully.

The Whole Hog – Aftermarket Diamond Case, Bezel, Dial and Bracelet. 
fully iced out diamond customization

This is like putting a custom wrap on your car. The structure and interior is the same but the exterior has completely transformed. 

Doing a completely iced out customization for your luxury watch involves the stripping down of the watch to its constituent pieces and taking advanced watchmaking tools them.

If you want to be dripping in diamonds, this the only choice. You’ll find a completely iced out aftermarket watch customization is a favorite among celebrities and rappers, and for good reason, it looks lavish and one-of-a-kind. Not to mention, it declares serious spending power and a lack of regard for everyone who silently claims to be a watch purist. 

Pros and Cons of Adding Aftermarket Diamonds to Your Luxury Watch

best way to make a custom timepiece

Consider these advantages and disadvantages of aftermarket diamond customizations to see if this type of watch customization is right for you.

Pros of Aftermarket Diamond Customizations:
  1. You can get an opulent watch full of diamonds for significantly less than a factory set diamond luxury watch. And if you choose the right jeweler, like Diamonds By Raymond Lee, the quality will be just as good, both in the quality of the setting and the diamonds.
  2. Customize you watch with gems exactly as you desire. With factory set diamond watches, you are limited to the options the watch brand provides. With aftermarket diamond customization, the options are only limited by your creativity, and of course the capacity of the watch itself.
  3. One-of-a-kind look. Depending on how you customize you watch, it can be truly 100 percent unique – yours and yours only.
  4. You can customize a luxury watch to look just like a luxury watch that you simply can’t get your hands on. There are many luxury Swiss watch models out there that are virtually impossible to get, such as the Rainbow Rolex. With the right jeweler, you can create an identical look for a fraction of the price and without any wait (of course, except the time it takes to customize it). 
ways to customize a rolex

Read more about how created an aftermarket Rainbow Rolex that looks identical to the factory Rainbow Rolex using a plain Rolex Daytona Everose – Our client wanted a Rainbow Rolex, so we delivered! 

Cons of Aftermarket Diamond Customizations:
  1. It’s invariably true that aftermarket diamond settings cause the watch to lose value, as watch collectors are typically purists who want all original pieces, “unscathed” as they would view it for all intents and purposes. We completely respect both sides of the table. In any case, this is only a con if you think there’s a chance you will sell your watch in the future or if the particular model you are customizing someday spikes in value, which many Rolex watches have done once reaching vintage status. 
  2. Authorized service centers, such as Rolex, Omega, Cartier and countless others, will not service a watch that has been modified with aftermarket parts. However, if you do customize your timepiece, there are many skilled independent watchmakers that will gladly service your modified watch. For example, Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton.
  3. If you choose an unreliable, unskilled watchmaker, you may end up with bad results. We’ve seen horror stories of “watchmakers” completely (and inadvertently) ruining watches when customizing them. Think about it like getting a bad tattoo. Wouldn’t that be terrible? This is why it is vital that you choose a reputable watchmaker, like…you guessed it, Diamonds By Raymond Lee. We have a perfect track record and we’ve been doing this for over 30 years. If that doesn’t say enough, we don’t know what does. Moreover, the pictures in this post speak to this point. 

Want to customize your luxury watch?

how to customize a rolex

Whether you have a Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe or any other luxury Swiss watch, if you want to customize it, there is no better place than Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton. We have been doing watch customization for over 3 decades and our credentials are flawless.

You can come in to visit us in person, call us, or shoot us a message.

Not in Boca Raton? No worries. We can handle the entire process online.

Contact us now


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