Rapper, producer, designer, and tastemaker Kanye West could obviously have any watch in the world. The one he chose is a customized all-black Rolex Submariner by Swiss firm Black-Out Concept (above), on a black nylon NATO spec strap. Kanye made a decision a while back that Rolex would be his signature watch brand, but he wanted to add his own twist; Black-Out's version was perfect. "It looks hard, it looks really cool," he explained in naming the watch one of his 10 style essentials. "It's a new take on a classic watch." He also likes the fact that they take a Rolex and literally "paint it black" (coat it, actually).
Black-Out Concept was founded in 2007 by Fabrice Letellier in Geneva. An avid watch collector, racecar driver and all-round exotic car enthusiast with the means to indulge his passions, the idea was born when Letellier had some of his supercar collection given a matte black treatment, i.e. blacked-out. Next he decided to do the same with his Rolex, and soon some of his fellow car and watch aficionados followed suit. Obviously there was a market for it. Letellier contracted with one of Geneva's best watchmakers to perfect the black out process for timepieces, which is done using two low-friction, scratch-proof finishes used by the military, PVD and DLC (diamond-like carbon).
Black-Out also creates customized blacked-out cars, including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley and Aston Martin; the Black-Out package on the latter (see the gallery) costs about $40,000. They do customized matte black motorcycles as well built on a Harley-Davidson base, blacked-out Vertu Ascent cell phones - basically anything you can think of that would look better in all black. In addition to the Submariner they also black out several other Rolex models, including the GMT II, Daytona, Milgaus, and Deepsea, as well as other brands like Panerai, Bell & Ross and Audemars Piguet. Letellier has his own high-end watch brand in the works as well.
Gallery: Black-Out Concepts
Of course, Black-Out aren't the only ones to offer blacked-out Rolexes; we've written before about Bamford & Sons' $30,000 PVD Daytona and other models, as well as Jacques Picard's $18,000 DLC Deepsea. (No, we don't know who thought of it first.) Black-Out doesn't actually sell watches, however, they customize yours at a cost of €5,000, or about $7,000, which includes Fed-Ex'ing to and from Geneva, and a set of three different straps including the NATO. So you can in fact get the look of the far more expensive models for much less - if you pick up a used Submariner in the $5,000 range - yet still have a watch that's every bit as exclusive, not to mention Kanye-approved. You can contact Black-Out's U.S. representative Christian Ginet at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.