Back in April, Tom Brady told me about his watch collection. Yes, we were in the early stages of a global pandemic that forced most of the country into their homes, but it felt like a simpler time—one that still offered hope for a flattened curve, a first wave cresting. At the time, Brady stressed the importance of getting out for some sun. I should make a point of getting out to score “vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc,” he suggested. It didn’t seem impossible back then that we might all be together again soon—a little richer in vitamin D and zinc, maybe, and showing off our watches.
That obviously hasn’t transpired. But Brady’s 20-odd watch collection remains of interest. The legendary quarterback, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, acquires watches for occasions big and small. The big: After winning Super Bowl 51, Brady got a special-edition Big Pilot as a gift from “my friend” and the chairman of the Richemont group (which owns IWC along with a host of other major watch brands). But Brady being Brady, the small occasions are pretty big, too: he bought one watch because he saw Sylvester Stallone wearing it at the gym.
The quarterback and IWC ambassador is the star of a new video from the watch brand that plays out like an epic retelling of Brady’s life. It’s only missing one pivotal moment of Brady’s early years in the NFL: fresh off winning his first Super Bowl in 2002, Brady wandered into the watch shop Tourneau in upper Manhattan and from a vast selection of watches, picked out an IWC. “It rarely ever came off my wrist and I still wear it today,” he said.
GQ: Tell me a little bit about your collection of IWC watches as it stands now.
Tom Brady: I actually have a great collection now. I've got a few different pilot watches—the Father and Son. I have a special edition Big Pilots that my friend Johann Rupert, the chairman of Richemont, sent me as a gift for winning the Super Bowl a few years ago. I've owned a few different ones of those over the years: I had the Top Gun, I have the Top Gun Miramar, I have the Spitfire, I have two different Portugiesers, an Ingenieur, a GST automatic alarm. It's really an amazing group of watches.
How did you personally get started down this road?
I'm not really a collector of anything, really. I'm not really into, like, collecting art, or wine, or cigars, or cars. I collected baseball cards when I was a kid. I bought my first IWC when I was 24, and have been collecting watches ever since then. Now, I probably have 20 or so in my collection.
Do you remember what that first model was?
It must have been a GST of some form—it was just a badass steel watch with a light-colored face. Definitely not white, but more of a gray face. And it was probably the watch that I wore for five or six years. It rarely ever came off my wrist and I still wear it today. I had it serviced, and I know a lot of watch collectors don't like getting them refinished, but for me, I like them looking nice.
Yeah, the refinishing thing is big for provenance, but you'll be okay. I think watches owned by Tom Brady are going to be fine. They’ll have great provenance.
Yeah, hopefully I don't sell them, which I don't think I ever will. These will be hopefully in my collection for a long time.
Or pass them down.
Yeah, if these kids earn it. These kids better freaking earn it. I'll tell them that.
That watch you got when you were 24—did you buy it to mark a specific occasion, or did you just need a watch?
I hadn't really had any watches. I had a watch I was given because whenever we’d go to bowl games in college, they would give you a watch as a gift. When I went to the Rose Bowl in 1997, they gave us a watch. I don't even remember who made it, but I gave it to my dad. I was drafted by the Patriots in 2001. I was making, at the time, a lot of money: $185,000. I thought I was rich. And then my second year we won the Super Bowl, and I signed a new contract. So it was the fall of 2002. We played a game on Thursday night [against the Detroit Lions], I think on Thanksgiving. Then I flew to New York City with my friend, [former Patriot] Lawyer Milloy, and we went to the Tourneau store on 57th Street.
I bought this IWC as really my first watch ever. I paid like eight or nine grand for it, and it was more money than I'd ever spent in my entire life—on a watch. And I couldn't believe that I would ever spend that kind of money on a watch. Now, watch prices have gotten totally out of control. I still love having that watch in my collection. It's a great reflection of a great time in my life.
You have a couple of these watches with great stories behind them, whether it's this first one, or the gift for winning the Super Bowl. Are there a lot of watches in your collection like that?
Definitely. My wife bought me a Portugieser with a perpetual calendar for my 30th birthday. It's a beautiful watch, white gold with a gray face, and it's just spectacular. Any special occasion with her, that's what I'm wearing.
A lot of them that have pretty cool stories to them. I bought this Father and Son Big Pilot that's platinum because I actually saw Sylvester Stallone wearing it one day in the gym, when I used to work out in L.A. And I was like, “I gotta get that watch because it looks so bad,” in a good way. And so I bought that.
I wanted to ask about the IWC Spitfire edition that you wore when signing your contract. Was there any significance to that particular choice? Because the nickname of the watch is the “Longest Flight.” I was trying to read between the lines and see if you were wearing it as a nod to your enduring career.
[Laughs] Yeah, that's a good question. You know, when we won the Super Bowl in 2019 I wore the same watch in the Super Bowl parade. So I don't know—that was just the one that I had on that day. And it's an amazing watch and it's been a part of some big moments in my life. So that's going to be in the collection forever.
How are you feeling now you're playing for a brand new team? How excited are you?
I'm very excited. I wish we could get going. I'm sure everyone wishes they could get going back, working back into the normal routine, but I got a lot of things to learn. I got a lot of teammates to get to know. I think the good part is I was able to be able to move my life down here and get things settled personally with my kids and stuff. So that feels really good. So now I’m just going to be, like, itching to start football and get to learn all this stuff in the playbook.
And you have this amazing corps of wide receivers. That part must be really exciting.
Yep, absolutely. I've heard just great things about those guys, and they were a big part of the reason why I chose here. The different skill players they have that are very talented, and the coaching staff that was here, the ownership group—I think [Tampa] has got a lot of great things going for it. It's a new challenge and new opportunity and I’m excited to grow in ways that would be different than if I had stayed in the same place, even though that was an incredible place for me to be.
I have to ask, too—we are in such a strange time. I wonder how you're staying busy self-isolating. Besides working out and football stuff, what are you doing to keep busy?
I mean, that's what it's been. It's been a lot of training, and I've been very fortunate to be in a nicer climate where I could be outside moving around a little bit. And there's a pool here where I'm staying. I do a lot of training in the pool. I have a gym at the house. I'm just trying to stay in really good shape, and also trying to just reorganize my life.
One thing that is a blessing in disguise, when you do transition in your life and you move, you shed some things that you've been hanging onto that had been at the bottom of a drawer for so long. And then I look and I'm like, “I don't need that anymore,” and that's gone. It just makes room for some other things. So I think just getting my life organized with the help of a lot of people that I have here to help me has been a really good thing for me—to just to take inventory and know that I'm embracing a new opportunity.
Are you wearing a watch inside, too?
Oh, yeah. Right now, I got the IWC Portugieser, this is my blue perpetual calendar. I don't have the year right. It's set to 2019, but I don't know how to change that right now. It's okay, though—I know what year it is. I'm still in good shape.
Originally Appeared on GQ