26th November 2018, Geneva
Les Artisans de Genève “La Montoya” Chronograph Launch and Video below
Juan Pablo Montoya (JPM)
“I never thought racing was going to be my career. It was my passion, it was my life, it’s what I’d always wanted to do when I grew up. I started my career with karting when I was six years old, I grew up racing in Colombia,and I’ve been racing ever since. I just love it. I don’t remember my first victory that well, but I do remember the first time I lost and how painful it was. As a kid, when you lose a race, you have to learn how to deal with the defeats to get to the success.
I think what drives me is being better than anybody else. Artisans de Genève embodies what I wanted in somebody who would build a watch for me. They are that somebody that was happy to remove limits to how a watch should be built. After my last watch was so successful, it was hard to come up with something better and they gave me the opportunity to build something that hadn’t been made before, and it couldn’t be any better. I’ve always been passionate about the Rolex Daytona, I probably have seven or eight of them. I won the ‘Rolex 24’ race three times, and it’s a watch that really relates to all of my racing. So I was amazed when the idea came along to do a skeleton Daytona. Artisans de Genève went far beyond anything I could ask for. The more I look at this timepiece, the more I like it.”
– Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya was introduced to motorsports by his papa at an early age. Showing early promise, he embarked upon an incredible career, winning the most prestigious races and is the only driver to win so many different race formats; a CART Series title, the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Monaco Grand Prix.
JPM and Fernando Alonso are the only two active drivers today with two of the three wins required for the unofficial but rare “Triple Crown” of Monaco F1 Grand Prix, 24H of Le Mans and Indy 500.
“La Montoya” Skeletonised Chronograph €42,260 (US$47,885) + taxes
It is always daring to modify a global icon like the Rolex Daytona model and yet they have succeeded in meeting all expectations, nay, mayhap even exceeding them!
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« La Montoya » epitomises triumph over unpeakable challenge: to revisit one of the most iconic timepieces and apply the motorsports engineering technique of skeletonising components. In motor racing, the technique helps reduce weight for better performance but even the most avid race fan has to admit that for this project, it just makes it look better. The base Daytona model was chosen as it is Juan Pablo’s favorite Rolex that is synonymous with his most vivid racing successes including the ‘Rolex 24’ races he won in 2007, 2008 and 2013.
Artisans de Geneve is a cooperative of individual artisans dedicated to the aesthetics and techniques of horology. They required two years of development to modify and embellish the elegant skeletonisation of Rolex cal. 4130 for « La Montoya ». This well known caliber is disassembled into all its components, cut, angled, and finished by hand in the Vallée de Joux before reassembly. The process takes hundreds of hours to achieve a true work of art, which highlights the epitome and beauty of Swiss know-how.
« La Montoya » is the work of Philippe Narbel who left his position as Angleur à la lime Senior & Squelettiseur at Audemars Piguet to form his own artisanal workshop. An angleur polishes the precise angular edges of movement plates and the squelettiseur cuts out the skeletonised parts. Mr Narbel signs each piece that he touches. None of “his” movements are alike. He perfects an already exceptional movement in the smallest details, giving it a unique touch, making each of them one-of-a-kind.
The bezel from a new Rolex watch is replaced with a tachymeter bezel machined from a forged carbon block. It was conceived and produced by Artisans de Genève.
The dial takes inspiration from the motor racing world. It has been skeletonised and angled manually. Each indicator hand is individually polished by human hand. The red arrow chronograph seconds hand is sandblasted. The sub-counter hands are replaced with specially shaped versions.
Like the hands, the counters are individually hand-painted with the colours of Juan Pablo Montoya’s beloved Colombia.
“La Montoya” is equipped with Artisans de Genève’s signature: a solid gold rotor made entirely in 22-carat white gold with fine fenestration to show off the beauty of the decorated bevelled movement. It is polished with a circular finishing to harmonise with the rest of the movement.
There is another signed component unique to the timepiece: the transparent sapphire back is held in place by a metal bezel individually engraved, numbered and polished by hand.
Any timepiece from Artisans de Genève must be highly decorated and polished by hand. The juxtaposition of brushing and sandblasting gives “La Montoya” a contemporary and timeless look, to accompany the exquisite skeletonisation of the movement. The lugs are brushed and the back of the case is sandblasted.
Video: The Story of “La Montoya”
When JPM was active in F1 Grand Prix racing c.2004, Audemars Piguet issued a series of limited edition Royal Oak Offshore limited editions in platinum, rose gold or titanium with carbon fibre bezels. They were much sought after by aficionados and still command a premium when coming to auction today. Like those Audemars Piguet watches, forged carbon is now machined into a bezel for the « La Montoya » watch.
That era was when a slew of F1 drivers had eponymous editions by Audemars Piguet like Rubens Barrichello, Jarno Trulli and Sebestien Buemi. Michael Schumacher and his Ferrari Racing boss, Jean Todt, both collected Audemars Piguet watches privately but Michael could not wear them in public because he had an advertising contract with Omega at the time. When Michael retired from F1 Grand Prix racing, they announced an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Michael Schumacher edition.
This was before the current crop of watch brand sponsors of F1 Grand Prix like Bell & Ross, Richard Mille and Hublot although TAG-Heuer was even earlier sponsoring F1 in the 1960s and 1970s.
Another interesting F1 racing “connection” is that Richard Mille brand is partly owned by Audemars Piguet and much of the watch development was by ‘Renaud and Papi’, another venture partly owned by Audemars Piguet.
Yet another interesting “connection” is that Jean-Claude Biver, until recently CEO of TAG-Heuer and who revived the Hublot brand, as well as producing the Hublot “La Ferrari” superwatch, entered the industry by joining Audemars Piguet.
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He was former CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).