Welcome to Watches of the Week, where we'll track the rarest, wildest, and most covetable watches spotted on celebrities.
What can we make of an athlete’s watch? Well, not just any athlete’s watch. We’re talking about the ones on the wrists of athletes at the very top of the pyramid—the kind of athletes who have timepieces made for and named after them. Years ago, LeBron James took the sporty Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and beefed it up so it’d look merely normal on his frame. Richard Mille made Rafael Nadal a watch so light it could be worn during a tennis match—and then painted it the red and yellow of the Spanish flag. In tandem with Jacob the Jeweler, Lionel Messi went a different direction: pure luxury. Jacob the Jeweler’s attitude to watchmaking is more is more, which is never enough. Messi’s $28,000 Chrono is a watch unlike James’s or Nadal’s in that it’s not meant for the game, or really even the postgame. It’s most at home among passed trays of caviar or underneath the sleeve of a tuxedo on the way to receive the player of the year trophy at the FIFA Football Awards ceremony—which happens to be where Messi wore it most recently. This week, more killer footballer watches, Rob Lowe in a classic, and we’re blowing the whistle on a good, affordable watch spotted at a government hearing.
Lionel Messi’s Jacob & Co Epic X Chrono Messi Edition
Messi’s luxury timepiece spares no flourish. The 10-minute marker on the dial is offset in red to highlight the footballer’s jersey number, 6 o’clock gets Messi’s name and a dramatic calligraphic M, and his signature appears on the case back. The color combination of blue dial and white bezel is inspired by the flag of Messi’s native Argentina.
YG’s RM 11-03
Speaking of sticking with your colors, YG has been wearing this ruby-red Richard Mille RM 11-03 religiously. The RM 11-03 is the most popular model in the watchmaker’s catalog—it’s the watch worn on the field by Odell Beckham or seen courtside on Drake’s wrist. The versatility is key: Beckham’s is Cleveland-Browns orange, Drake’s rose-gold. There are reportedly only 50 of these all-red versions in the world—of course YG had to have one.
Rob Lowe’s Rolex GMT Master II “Batman”
In the secondary and auction community, the feeling with classic Rolexes, like the GMT Master II in a blue-and-black “Batman” colorway, is that they only get better with age. The watch, which in this case was released in 2013, only stands to go up in value as little signs of love—marks, nicks, scratches, a touch of discoloration—add up with wear. The most romantic (and influential) watch collectors will tell you those deformities tell a story that only inflates a piece’s price. So, in that case, if Rob Lowe were a watch, it’d be worth zilch. (This has been a joke about how Rob Lowe doesn’t age. Thanks.)
While Rolex re-released the GMT “Batman” earlier this year, the ageless wonder Lowe is wearing the 2013 version that comes with a classic and understated Oyster bracelet rather than the dressier Jubilee bracelet on the 2019 model. It’s a matter of taste, but most collectors, like John Mayer, prefer the former.
Kylian Mbappe’s Hublot Classic Fusion
If you’re smitten with the sporty look of the Royal Oak or the Patek Philippe Nautilus, but wish they came in a Wonka-like array of colors and materials, do I have a watch for you. The Hublot Classic Fusion, with its exposed screws around the bezel, shares some similarities with those aforementioned watches—but it often comes in Darth Maul red-and-black, reptilian green, or the deep blue seen here on the wrist of Mbappe.
Conan O’Brien’s Panerai Radiomir PAM573
This is a classic Instagram maneuver: using some goofy, often meaningless, occasion as a reason to post a picture that you really wanted to post anyway. It’s like when a friend has a birthday, so you write up some sappy caption recollecting the fragments of your first meeting and what makes them special and then—bam—post an accompanying picture you look absolutely fantastic in. Good for you! For Conan O’Brien, the occasion for posting is the very fake National Hamburger Day, while the real raison d'être for this image is obviously the watch: a chocolate-brown Panerai Radiomir. A very well-done backdoor flex.
Joseph Maguire’s Seiko SUP896
During a Capitol Hill hearing Thursday regarding a government employee’s now-infamous whistleblower complaint, Joseph Maguire, the acting Director of National Intelligence, wore a really great watch. So nice, in fact, that a coworker sent me a picture of the director’s wrist with the note “Maguire rocking the Tank,” referring to the classic square-shaped piece made by Cartier. Only Maguire’s is a Seiko, and costs about 1/50th of what a Tank might run. Seiko, it turns out, makes some really nice Tank dupes, including this SUP896. Maguire’s is clearly older but both his and the new available-online version retain that yellowing vintage feel. If you really want to go all in on that Tank-from-across-the-room look, the SUP880 is only $91.