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CNBC Secret Life of the Super Rich features Titan Black's Story

When your gold Rolex isn't cool, you do this

 

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In the luxury watch world, black is the new gold.

More and more owners of shiny new Rolex watches – whether stainless steel, yellow gold or platinum – are paying thousands of dollars more to turn their luxury timepieces jet black. And that's meant strong growth for a London-based company that's pioneered a new technology to black out the priciest timepieces.

A chemical reaction ultimately turns the metal ebony, giving the watch similar properties to that of a diamond.

In the luxury watch world, black is the new gold.

More and more owners of shiny new Rolex watches – whether stainless steel, yellow gold or platinum – are paying thousands of dollars more to turn their luxury timepieces jet black. And that's meant strong growth for a London-based company that's pioneered a new technology to black out the priciest timepieces.

"One of the reasons why someone might turn their Rolex black – particularly if it's a gold watch or platinum watch – might be that they don't necessarily want everybody to know it's a gold or platinum watch. Perhaps they want to be under the radar, less ostentatious," Luke Waite, founder of London-based high-end watch customizer Titan Black, told CNBC's "Secret Lives of the Super Rich."

Indeed, the black watch trend is part of the broader boom in blacked-out bling – from Rolls Royce's new Black Badge models to high-end black watches from Richard Mille, Breitling and other brands.

 

"The consumer has become more aware of the ability to customize exactly what they want – as opposed to being dictated to by the brand."- Luke Waite, Titan Black Founder

 

At Titan, high-end watches are not painted, but rather treated with a "diamond-like carbon" (DLC) coating. The chemical reaction ultimately turns the metal ebony, giving the watch similar properties to that of a diamond: from hardness and durability to scratch-resistance and captivating black finish. And today's wealthy want watches that are unique.

"The consumer has become more aware of the ability to customize exactly what they want – as opposed to being dictated to by the brand," Waite said.

While the company specializes in customizing Rolexes, its artisans have also added bespoke features to other luxury timepieces – from Panerai to Audemars Piguet – including changing every single marker on a watch face to the color of a client's choice. They'll even swap out the dial altogether to a custom color not offered by the manufacturer.

One of Titan's clients requested a 24K gold skull carved into the face of his $18,000 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. It took a master engraver more than 35 hours to create the masterpiece by hand.

 

"We only make one of each dial... [each is] completely unique and one-of-a-kind."- Ben Waite, Titan Black Director

 

"The face alone is worth upwards of $10,000," Luke's brother, Titan Black director Ben Waite, told CNBC. "We only make one of each dial... [each is] completely unique and one-of-a-kind," he explained.

Another custom touch is achieved when Titan artisans transform a watch face by sprinkling colorful layers of powdered enamel onto it. The powdery design is then literally baked onto the face. It's a process that can require dozens of firings in a kiln that tops 1,400 degrees, transforming the colorful grains of enamel into a shiny porcelain watch face.

The company's most elaborate transformation started as a $30,000 white gold Rolex Daytona. A member of the Middle Eastern royal family asked Titan Black to carve a family member's Arabic name into the watch face and illuminate in blue light. To fulfill the royal request, Titan engineered a patent-pending micro-lighting system, tiny enough to fit inside the watch's housing and made it controllable with the press of the chronograph button.

Titan engineered a patent-pending micro-lighting system, tiny enough to fit inside the watch's housing and made it controllable with the press of the chronograph button.

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"It was the most complicated and intricate project we've ever developed," Luke Waite said.

The changes cost Titan's client an additional $40,000 – ticking the cost of the Swiss timekeeper north of $70,000.

The royals were so impressed with the results, they ordered two more for other family members bringing their Titan tab to more than $200,000.

Watch "Secret Lives of the Super Rich" on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

 

 

"When your gold Rolex isn't cool enough, you do this" CNBC, 07 March. 2017, http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/07/this-company-turns-gold-rolex-watches-black.html"

 

 

 

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