When earlier this month, Canadian rapper Drake Instagrammed a photo of his new custom Patek Philippe Nautilus watch, fashion pros noted that the emerald-covered timepiece, while designed by Virgil Abloh, looked very much like the work of watch customizers MAD Paris. Confirming this, though, was quite literally an impossible task.
MAD are notoriously secretive about their client list (which by the way includes Abloh himself) and their work. Case in point? When we contacted them via email, a member of their team responded: “We have a very strong policy regarding confidentiality, and usually do not give any information about our activity.” Fortunately, the representative did give out a few details that help raise the curtain over this ultra-secretive watch customization company.
“We started MAD more than ten years ago, as watch collectors. We came across the coating process and made one watch for personal use. Then after a lot of friends inquired about it and wanted one, we went to a distributor and bought a dozen Rolexes to coat them in black,” wrote the team member. “After friends of friends and more inquired, we decided to create a brand and start our journey. Once the brand was created, we started to develop the business worldwide through our network, and started to expand the range of customization we can offer.”
MAD’s commitment to privacy means the brand doesn’t do any traditional advertising or press to promote their work. They do, however, have an active Instagram account with more than 96 thousand followers, where they post photos of the watches they work on.
And it’s clear that MAD (or their customers) have an affinity for luxury pieces. Aside from Rolex, MAD often customizes timepieces by Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet. A photo of a Rolex Daytona on their Instagram sports a bezel set with green emeralds—a look suspiciously similar to the Patek Philippe watch Drake posted.
“Recently we developed our range of set pieces with precious stones. We mostly work on steel pieces, but it can be any material, like ceramic, gold, titanium, carbon,” they wrote. One of their most signature designs is a complete black-out of a watch by coating it with a carbon layer—a process entirely done by hand which takes weeks to complete and includes the disassembling of the timepiece.
“We’re just trying to offer exclusivity and uniqueness to our customers,” they said. “We can’t speak in [our customers] name but we guess that they want cool products, maybe more related to fashion, maybe fancier, more exotic that classic big brands are not capable to offer or just don’t want to.”
But if you are ready to give your Rolex Yacht-Master the MAD Paris treatment, you need to be patient—it takes them on average of about ten weeks to customize a timepiece.