For Florida’s newest transplant, Tom Brady, watches are a personal passion that has grown steadily along with his 20-year football career. From the first watch he bought for himself at 24, to his current tie-in with legendary Swiss tool-watch brand IWC, Brady’s schtick has always been sleuthing out watches with the perfect balance of form and function. To Brady, a daily beater is as cherished as a five-figure grande complication Portugieser for date night and an integral part of the style armory. I Zoomed recently with Tom to find out more about his ongoing thing for IWC.
Do you remember your first watch? Was it a Christmas present?
I always got footballs or gold clubs; those were the two things I most wanted. I didn’t develop an appreciation for watches until I was in my early twenties. But over the years I’ve accumulated them. I haven’t really sold much, but have about 15 to 20 now and I definitely enjoy collecting them, seeing the collection grow.
So tell me about that first watch.
My first watch I bought for myself in 2002. To me it still reflects a cool moment in my life, which is why I still remember the day that I bought it. It was an IWC GST Chronograph Rattrapante. I remember we played on Thanksgiving day. We lost. And then we flew to New York the next day and I bought the watch at the Tourneau store on 57th street.
I thought it was a badass watch and I wore that thing every opportunity that I could. I sent it back and got it serviced because I had beat it up for a long time. Now I take much better care of my watches.
How do you find the watch you want?
I’m always looking at magazines, online, Instagram, seeing friends who wear them. It’s the one thing I’ve always taken to. I'm not really a gearhead or a car nut, but I do like clothes and watches.
What do you look for in a watch?
I’m always looking for the cool brands that can marry elegance and the function. For men it's very different from 20 years ago. I'm sure you see this at Esquire, too—that educating men on how to dress well and how to style themselves is much more important now than it was, especially in America.
What's more important: how a watch looks or what it does?
I don’t think you can separate them. I think part of what attracts me is the beauty of a watch, and the technical aspect is super important. Some perform differently at different times, so I would say if I’m wearing jeans and a hoodie it's more a sport watch; if I’m going out its probably one of the more fancy watches. I like the right watch for the right occasion. I’m more often in a jeans and a hoodie.
Fittingly, you’re currently a brand ambassador for IWC.
I’ve been working with IWC a couple of years now. It’s an incredible brand. I think their style of watch is very timeless, elegant, and forward thinking. I think of all the things I prioritize in a watch, they have every model you could want in your collection. They have a great lineup. I would not say they have a lot of dainty or dressy watches, which are not really my style anyway. IWC makes in precious materials like rose gold or white gold, but the IWCs I tend to enjoy more are in say titanium, or in ceramic, and of course all the steel ones. They’re very masculine watches.
You wear a few IWC watches these days, and many are Portugiesers. Is there one standout for you among them?
I have a Portugieser Perpetual Calendar that I love with a gray face, and one with a blue face. The gray dial one my wife bought me for my 30th birthday. It seems like yesterday, but it was 12-and-a-half years ago. I also have a Timezoner Spitfire that I love, in like a military green. It's pretty badass. It’s big and it fits my wrist really well; I’ve got pretty thick bones.
Do you wear the watch your wife gave you on date nights?
Sure. It’s a great time to do it. Whenever we go on a date or it’s an anniversary or we’re going on a road trip, I’ll typically wear the one she gave me. We were joking about it this morning. She said, “You know that’s the most expensive gift I ever bought anybody in my life.” I said, “Yeah, well since then I brought you a lot of expensive gifts too!”
Do you nerd out on the functions of your watches?
Some of them have a bunch of functions, but I worry I’ll screw them up if I play with them too much, pulling out the buttons and pressing ‘em. But I’ll use the stopwatch function mostly. I mean, I don’t rely too much on a moon-phase.
Do you look after your watches?
I didn’t do that when I was younger, but I definitely do now. I treat them like they deserve to be treated. I feel like one day I’ll have a cool collection, so I just want to make sure they are properly looked after now. I stopped using a watch winder years ago because I found they beat up the watches. I just wind them manually if I haven’t worn them in a while.
What about vintage?
I have quite a few vintage watches, including a 1940s or '50s IWC pocket watch. I think it’s a very classic, masculine thing. I sometimes wear it with a Tom Ford suit; it’s a unique look. There's a unique quality to pocket watches because they can do things with pocket watches that you can’t do with wristwatches. It almost never leaves my safe, though, because if I dropped it I think it would be impossible to put it back together.
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