It should be obvious to any vintage Rolex lover that the stock bezel inserts on all Cartel Vintage Rolex watches are outright hideous. I was also never happy with any of the alternatives offered by Phong, Yuki & the rest - their fonts are inaccurate, they are lacking serifs, and both numbers and tick-marks are way too perfect and too straight for a Vintage Rolex Insert. I think many of you have heard about the saying "If you want something done right, do it yourself". So that's what I did! I have a particular fondness to Fat Font and "Kissing 40" Inserts and the bezel insert was that important to me - anyone who ever went from a bad to a good insert will know how much the bezel insert changes the face of the watch.
It took me over a year with many revisions and a lot of trial and error to make a bezel insert that is (in my opinion) the closest thing to a real Fat Font insert on the market.
To give you a bit of context on what makes Fat Font inserts unique and special: You may have read about "Fat Font" and "Kissing 40" and even "Kissing 50" Bezel Inserts and Genuine Inserts with those features often come with a $2k+ price tag. The reason why such inserts are both rare and so sought after has something to do with how they were produced and when they were produced. The printing pads used by Rolex to make bezel inserts wore out over time and this wear and tear resulted in numbers that started to be less and less perfect. Numbers and tick-marks started to bleed out on the edges and into each other, resulting in features such as the "Kissing 40". Today such imperfect inserts would be discarded, but back in the days, Rolex did not care much for perfection and consistency, which meant that bezel insert produced close to end-of-life of these printing pads made their way onto watches.
In making these MK1 "Kissing 40" Fat Font Bezel Inserts, my main goals were:
Production technique: Mimic the worn-out printing pads that were used to add the non-conductive paint for the numbers on the insert before they were anodized. "Fat Font" and Kissing 40 were a result of wear and tear of those printing pads
I made custom molds for both the aluminium bezel itself & for the Font of the numbers / tick-marks.
Font & Serifs: Used a Genuine MK1 Font and kept fine details, such as Serifs, as accurately as possible
Including for example "odd" serifs on the base of the number 2
No two big or small tick-marks are exactly the same and they are not perfectly rectangular either - each one of them was custom-drawn.
Size & Fit: These have the same inside/outside diameter and the same back-side profile as Genuine MK1 inserts.
Outside Diameter: ~36.55mm, Inside Diameter: ~30.3mm
They should snap-in to both Rep and Genuine Bezel Rings and don't have to be glued
The inserts have a thinner outer edge compared to most Replica/Cartel inserts, which means no more sanding necessary for the insert to sit properly (i.e. slightly recessed) in the bezel ring
Color: A color mixture was used during the anodization process that will fade to blue when exposed to oxidizing agents or bleach (and not red or purple). You can also make them tropical brown instead of faded-blue if you like.
As you can imagine, this wasn't easy: it took me over year of going through numerous sampling cycles and re-designs in order to get the result I wanted. Not to mention that I drove my manufacturing partner nearly insane and they would have stopped working with me if I hadn't visited them in-person twice and showered them with gifts
I primarily made these for myself, but to give something back to the community and in order to recoup some of my investment, I'll be selling a few inserts to those of you who are big Vintage Rolex lovers like me.
How to Order:
Please send me a Private Message so I can keep track of things
Include the quantity and your shipping address.
Payment by PayPal Gift preferred
Price: 60$ shipped
from Europe to anywhere in the world via registered airmail (10% discount on each additional insert)
Do you offer these inserts Faded or Aged?
No - individual tastes with regards to how aged or how faded vary significantly and unfortunately I don't have the time to do this for every insert.
However, there are many modders on the forum who offer this service.
Do the inserts come with an Acrylic Pearl at 12?
No - the inserts come without acrylic pearl. I had too many issues trying fabricating the pearls and since Athaya and Yuki sell them for 5-10$ anyway, I shelved that project for the time being. You could also re-use the bezel pearl from an old Cartel Insert (the 1680 on the pics below re-uses the Pearl from a Cartel insert).
Many genuine inserts will also have lost the top part of the acrylic pearl by now, so you could also glue some yellow paste into the hole with epoxy in order to mimic a broken-off pearl
Will you make any other Designs (MK2, MK3, Long-5, GMT)?
Perhaps at some point in the future - I've done some of the design work already, but whether or not I will produce them depends largely on how many inserts of this production run i'm going to sell.
Will they fit a Cartel 5512/5513/1680/1665?
Yes. They should also fit in MQ/Phong/Vietnam/Genuine Bezels
I've seen another Genuine MK1 insert on the internet that looks fatter/slimmer - how can that be?
As Explained somewhere in the middle of this post, "Fat Fonts" were the result of worn out printing pads, so other inserts that are MK1 and less fat were created earlier when the printing pads were less worn. Some other inserts were created later when inserts were even more worn out (for example, the following ultra fat insert, where the 5 started to bleed into the 0: https://imgur.com/a7wjKOP )
Are these perfect?
Probably not - nothing is 100% perfect. However, it is my opinion that these are by a wide margin the best inserts you can get, unless you want to spend 2000$+ on a Genuine Insert.
Snap-in Fit in a Cartel Bezel, will sit slightly recessed as on a Gen Bezel:
Slim Edge Custom MK1 Insert (left) next to a Cartel Insert (right):