What do you want when you have it all? Looks, money, fame, the life of a celebrity can seem an enviable one. With so many celebrities today selling their name and image to promote a certain watch brand, below is my top ten list of famous men that demonstrate a passion for watches over money.
1. In the world of watches Eric Clapton is as famous for his collection as he is for his music. A truly dedicated and passionate watch enthusiast he was always seeking the rarest and finest examples, having sold his watch collection with Christies New York in the early 2000's he has slowed down buying vintage examples, although can still be seen wearing exceptional modern watches. Shown here wearing a Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph Ref.5970G with special order dial featuring fancy Arabic numerals. I have heard a few stories about Eric Clapton over the years, my favorite two are when a dealer was wearing very rare a Rolex Milgauss Ref.6543 while shopping, as he walked into a store he heard someone say “Nice watch” and turned around to see Eric Clapton. Another is when the collector wanted to bid on a watch in Bonhams London, just to make sure he didn’t miss out he sent an employee to sit through the entre sale in the front row until the watch he wanted, the last lot, was offered. As the auctioneer started bidding they raised their paddle and kept it there until the hammer came down.
2. Charlie Sheen's love of watches become public for the wrong reasons when an adult performer relieved him of his platinum Patek Philippe Ref.5970 in a New York hotel. At the time the watch was very hard to obtain and Charlie became irate when he noticed it was missing, the girl locked herself in the bathroom until security arrived and the world knew he really loved his watches, alas he also loved his porn stars. Charlie currently has one of the largest and most impressive vintage Patek collections of any ‘celebrity’ collector and rarely buys any other brand. His twitter account, which earnt a new world-record at reaching 2 million followers, was set-up by dealer Robert Maron and the first tweet showed the above Ref.2497 watch with the quote ‘the only watch that tells warlock time’. He loves his watches so much apparently he accepted a job in Japan filming an advert just so he could use the fee to buy another one.
3. I have read John Mayer wants to be known in watch-circles as a respected watch expert, not just a famous musician. Alas his recent legal action with Robert Maron (settle out of court) over his purchase of Rolex Daytona’s with fake dials didn’t help him (there is a famous fake dial Paul Newman Rolex nicknamed the ‘Mayer dial’ by dealers.) Apparently he has a massive collection of vintage Rolex as well as some important Patek Philippe. In the picture above, if you can draw yours eyes away from Katy Perry’s breasts, he is wearing a (probably) unique rose gold Patek Philippe perpetual calendar split second chronograph on a bracelet with special-order black tachymeter dial. The watch was one of three ordered to the same specifications but in different metals by an important collector, Charlie Sheen owns the yellow version and the platinum with blue dial was sold by Christies Hong Kong in 2014. John Mayer is also listed as a columnist on the popular watch website Hodinkee.
4. Both Arnold Swarzenegger and Audemars Piguet deny any money has directly changed hands and therefore he is not a paid ambassador for the brand, instead both maintain he has a personal affection for the brand and promotes them whenever possible, in return the company donates money to Arnold’s charity 'After School All-Stars'. He is on this list as Arnold was directly responsible in the development of the 1999 Audemars Piguet End of Days limited edition, a PVD coated black watch with yellow numerals that changed the way we look at luxury watches. He recently launched his own watch, a monster of a piece based on the dials in his personal tank (yes, I said a tank). Shown above wearing the End of Days model. As well as his love of AP Arnie can be seen wearing Panerai, possibly due to the influence of our number 5 celebrity watch-lover, Sylvester Stallone.
5. A few might disagree with including Sylvester Stallone on this list since, like Arnold, he isn’t a collector par-se, however, like Arnold, Stallone had a love of a particular brand, Panerai, and was influential in its success. Stallone discovered Panerai in the company’s early years and famously wore a model in the 1996 movie ‘Daylight’. His apparent genuine passion for Panerai and his promotion of the brand within celebrity circles means most of the actors in the movie ‘Expendables 3’ wear Panerai watches, his pal Jason Stratham is also a fan and Sly has given Arnold a Panerai on more than one occasion. He has recently converted to wearing Richard Mille, possibly in the hope he would do the same for them as he has for the Panera brand. In the same way Stallone was inducted into the boxing hall of fame for his portrayal as fictional character Rocky, and therefore promoting the sport, he deserves to be on this list for his continued drive and passion in promoting the luxury sport watch industry.
6. Orlando Bloom once said he didn’t like to talk about his passion for collecting watches as it was one of the few aspects of his life he wanted to keep private. Alas, the bling-ring changed that. Orlando famously had a small but valuable collection of watches, mostly vintage Rolex, stolen from his Hollywood home. The consequence was, suddenly everyone knew about his private passion. He has apparently been buying for a long time, or rather had been, with a particular interest in vintage Rolex, especially the Explorer model. Orlando is currently an ambassador for British watch company Bremont, although continues to be spotted wearing various brands, most recently a pink gold Panerai. Shown here wearing a very rare 1958 Rolex Milgaus Ref.6541 with a brown 'tropical' dial on a NATO strap.
7. Yes, Charlie Watts, the drummer from one of the most cult rock bands in the world, the Rolling Stones, is a passionate pocket watch collector. Believed to favor Cartier from the 20's/30's, he apparently has display cabinets in his home with the watches set on stands to view his vast (100+) collection.
8. Shortly after Daniel Craig was featured as the new James Bond in ‘Casino Royale’ the actor caused a bit of a stir when he was spotted on several occasions wearing vintage Rolex watches, including the above Daytona Ref.6263 and also apparently a 1950’s Rolex Submariner Ref.6538 big crown, ironically, known as the ‘James Bond’ Rolex. At the time Omega, unlike Pierce Brosnan before him, were only sponsors of the movie character James Bond, not Craig himself and therefore he could wear what he liked. I am sure though the bigwigs at Omega were fuming after spending millions over the years promoting Omega as the James Bond watch, only to have the new James Bond character publicly wearing a Rolex. Craig’s stunt was short lived and possibly just to drive up his fee, as soon after the above image was taken he became an Omega ambassador, his Rolex collection returned to the safe to only be worn and admired privately. Although he perhaps shouldn't be on this list as he sold his name and likeness to Omega, privately he apparently maintains a love of vintage Rolex and I am sure the money from Omega came in useful when adding to his collection.
9. The fact Nicolas Cage collected watches isn’t surprising, I am sure I have read the actor collects everything from dinosaurs to knives to probably moon dust. Like some collectors though his passion was fleeting and he is on this list only because he is wearing such a great watch in the image shown above. Having now I believe sold all of his collection I can find little about it other than it seems to have concentrated on vintage rare examples by famous brands without a true understanding of what he was buying. In short, he probably bought a lot of over-restored or questionable watches. In the image above he is wearing a yellow gold Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph Ref.2499, one of the most famous and collectable watches available. (it is the same watch detailed below that John Lennon received on his 40th birthday)
10. Ok, so Robert Redford isn’t really a collector, just the same as his late pal Paul Newman wasn’t a watch collector. In the (excellent) 1976 movie ‘All the Presidents Men’ Redford is seen wearing a Rolex Submariner Date, Ref. 1680 with red print Submariner text. This was neither a paid product placement nor a movie prop; it was his own watch he chose to wear. Over the years pictures exist of RR wearing the same red Submariner while out and about, including one taken recently when a well known San Francisco based vintage Rolex dealer spotted Robert at SFO and asked what watch he was wearing, yep, the same red Submariner he wore in the 1976 movie. He is on this list because, just like his Rolex, the guy is a classic.
Worthy of a mention are British TV personalities Gordon Ramsey and his vintage Rolex Submariner as well as Simon Cowell and his Jaeger LeCoultre tourbillon. Also former US President Bill Clinton who has been photographed wearing a modified Rolex Pro-Hunter as well as a Jaeger LeCoultre Navy SEALS alarm, neither are watches I would ever associate with a US President, former or current, and show his personal love of military-themed rugged watches. There is another rock star with a real passion for American pocket watches, however as I can't recall his name, he didn't make the list.
Not on this list because I can’t confirm via images is Will Farrell, yes, comedian Will Farrell. I heard he was an avid vintage Rolex fan after someone told me the story of the actor commenting on his rare Rolex at a Starbucks, however he might have been pulling my tail as I can’t find a picture of the comedian wearing a vintage Rolex anywhere. Sure, he is always wearing a different watch so the story might well be true. If anyone can prove it please email me, am curious to know.
I have purposefully left out footballers.