Michael Jordan Reminds Us He’s Also One of the World’s Most Interesting Watch Collectors

26 April 2020
Michael Jordan, The Last Dance, RICHARD MILLE, Ulysse Nardin, Nike, Air Jordan, Roger Dubuis, Watches
The first night of *The Last Dance* let the GOAT show off one of his unique timepieces

The Last Dance, the new documentary that follows the final victory lap of Michael Jordan’s Bulls, is ostensibly about a singularly talented athlete and the dynasty he created. But always looming on the periphery of the documentary is everything else Jordan’s legacy contains. The Last Dance is a great reminder of the monumental gold hoop earrings, of the ‘90s suits that draped him like window curtains and which he sometimes paired unabashedly with berets, of the rabid community of sneaker collectors he seemed to create with his two feet alone. The first two episodes of the film reminded me of another, less heralded aspect of Jordan’s style legacy: his watches, which are as far out today as they were a decade or two ago.

Roger-Dubois

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Just take the timepiece Jordan wore in the documentary last night: a Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pirelli with a skeleton dial. It is a watch almost tailor-made for Jordan: ‘90s in its enormous proportions, with a band made out of actual tires (!) that have competed in and won Formula 1 races. Can you imagine a more fitting sentiment for a man crazed with victory? Even his watch needs to be a winner! The watch also seems to follow Jordan’s guiding philosophy, which is, roughly: everything was better in the ‘90s. The jeans, voluminous and aggressively stonewashed, were better; the internet, without pictures of his tear-stained face, was better; and the basketball, as dominated by one Michael Jeffrey Jordan, was way better. Jordan’s watches reflect the same feeling. And, even more interestingly, his watches share that deep ‘90s optimism for the future—when people believed we might be on the cusp of a Jetsons-like lifestyle with flying cars and robot maids.

There is no better example of this than Jordan’s fascination with the brand Urwerk and its futuristic pieces. Over the years, Jordan has been spotted wearing the UR-103, the UR-202, and the UR-202S. Like the Roger Dubuis, Urwerk isn’t a brand seen too frequently on the wrists of celebrities, perhaps owing to the fact that its watches are uniformly unusual. But wearing one is one of the perks of being Michael Jordan. His Airness doesn’t need the status-by-association of a Rolex or Patek Philippe. It’s him that makes the watch cool and not the other way around. Jordan merely needs an outstanding teammate and so often he reaches for something incredibly technologically advanced. The UR-202 models Jordan owns feature what the brand describes as a satellite complication: a multi-pronged wheel at the center that swivels around and, in the simplest terms, acts as a minute hand. There are also two turbines that generate air to take the place of the typical contraption that regulates the way a watch is wound and wears down over time. Perhaps most notably, the model is the result of years of work and maniacal dedication to a craft. Sound familiar?

Jordan has few contemporaries when it comes to amassing a wide-ranging and unique collection of watches. So many celebrities specialize in one brand or one type of watch: the super-fine Patek Philippes Mark Wahlberg buys, or the dazzling rainbow of Rolex watches Elton John wears. Jordan, meanwhile, has been seen wearing a Ulysse Nardin Sonata, a watch with a face covered with more subdials, meters, and hands than Jordan has championship rings. He also owns the supersized Richard Mille RM-032, a dive watch with a dartboard-like design that takes itself incredibly seriously. “There is no room for error,” the product description reads. “Clumsiness and inaccuracy can have serious consequences.” This sounds like something Jordan might say to a teammate in the locker room—right before socking them.

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As he did with sneakers, Jordan tried to imprint his legacy on the watch world as well. In the ‘80s, Jordan partnered with French designer Guy Laroche on a piece that ported the red-and-black colorway from Jordan’s signatures shoes over to a quartz-style watch that everyone assumed would succeed because...well, why would you bet against Jordan in anything? “Air Jordan paved the way for all the other deals," David Falk, Jordan’s manager told The New York Times in 1986. "Nike spent more than $5 million on advertising. So now we can walk into a designer like Guy Laroche, which is selling the Time Jordan watch, and say, 'You don't have to spend that much because Nike and McDonald's and Coke are constantly putting him on television for you.'” What’s most striking about the Time Jordan is how not striking it is: a black dial with a gold case and an unfussy, uncomplicated quartz movement. The timepiece wasn’t long for this world. And, along with those six rings, Jordan would go on to collect everything but the standard-looking watch that once bore his name.


Via GQ