So much discussion around watches ultimately boils down to the numbers. The very first Watches of the Week roundup I put together, back in April, boasted that Jay-Z's sapphire-case Richard Mille took 3,000 hours to make. The next put the spotlight on Drake’s $750,000 timepiece. When we talk about watches we often want to know: how many were made? When was it made? What’s the movement? How many complications? And then, of course, in a whisper: so, you know, how much does it cost? It’s numbers all the way down.
Luckily, rounding up the watches worn by celebrities every week has the added bonus of generating another trove of numbers to dig through. I’ve dug through the data to find the most popular watches and brands, the year’s most varied collector, and a list of other made-up superlatives. As Justin Timberlake, playing a dot-com billionaire might say, you know what’s cooler than one week of watches? Nearly a whole year’s worth of them. So, this is Watches of the Year.
Most Popular Watch
The celeb-favorite medal podium sorted out about as you’d guess. Taking home the bronze medal is the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. After a Daytona belonging to the actor Paul Newman set a world record for most-expensive wristwatch in late 2017, the model, already a fan favorite, gobbled up even more of the spotlight. It is the perfect collection-starter for rich guys everywhere, making it less than surprising it turned up on 15 prominent celebrities wrists this year.
It’s not shocking that the Patek Philippe Nautilus is here, either—it’s just shocking it didn’t take the top spot. As watch collectors largely fell out of love with leather-banded dress watches this year, they went for the most top-shelf sports watch in existence: the Nautilus. Every week, I seemed to clock at least one celebrity wearing a Nautilus. Drake alone wore three! The New York Times hyped up the watch’s legendary eight-year waitlist. This felt like the Nautilus’s year...but it lost out to another luxury steel sports watch.
This one didn’t set a world record at auction, nor did anyone breathlessly discuss its multi-year wait list, but celebrities wore the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak more than any other piece this year. The breadth of the Royal Oak fandom is something to behold: Will Smith wore one, Justin Bieber bought himself one for his wedding (and then gave one to wife Hailey for her birthday), Maluma wore one courtside at a Knicks game, Alyx designer Matthew Williams customized his own, and Diddy’s son Christian Combs slathered his in diamonds.
This list could not paint a clearer picture of current watch culture. Even celebrities, with their practically limitless resources and many highfalutin events to attend, aren’t reaching for watches in gold or platinum, but instead in steel. The trend follows the overall casualization of men’s dress codes—you’re not necessarily going to pair luxe sweats with a hyper-complicated and precious Patek. Last thing: what a year for the late, great watch designer Gerald Genta, who is responsible for both the Royal Oak and Nautilus.
Most Popular Brand of the Year
While Rolex didn’t have the most popular watch of the year, its commanding win in this category puts a fine point on how many great pieces it makes. The next few slots in the most-popular-watch list belong to Rolex: the Day-Date comes in fourth, with just one less appearance than the Daytona, and the Datejust, GMT, and Sky-Dweller aren’t far behind.
Of course, no conversation of watches in 2019 would be complete without Richard Mille. Celebrities wore 19 (!!) different models from the brand. To put that into context, Rolex was next highest in that metric, with 10 different timepieces. Celebrities would take RMs however they could get them: with skulls, with kiwis and tiny fruit-shaped candies, in camouflage as an homage to Sylvester Stallone, or with all their most explicit sexual desires written out on the dial.
In less shocking news: celebrities also freaking love Patek Philippe! They love the Nautilus, of course, but also its younger even-sportier brother the Aquanaut.
Collector of the Year
Drake delivered this year, in terms of both quantity and headline-making watches. Will we ever forget that Drake wore a Richard Mille that said “I’d Love to Kiss Your Pussy” to an NBA Finals game?? How are we not just repeating this fact over and over again 12 hours a day until we black out?? This is my moon landing! But the year wasn’t just about horny watches. Drake wore classic and blinged-out Nautiluses, he paired a Rolex Day-Date with his Raptors championship ring, and even owns an unusually elegant women’s Richard Mille.
Honorary mention to Travis Scott, who probably has a better collection of Pateks than you’d think, and Henry Golding, who wore one classic—Nautilus, Cartier Tank, IWC Portugieser—after another.
Most Popular Dress Watch of the Year
Because they’ve been relegated to only the most champagne-and-caviar of soirees, it feels right to have a separate category rewarding the most popular dress watch of the year. Congrats, then, to the Cartier Santos and IWC Portugieser, which split this one. The former showed up on the Met Gala red carpet with Rami Malek—and also just everywhere, on Jake Gyllenhaal in particular. Tom Brady, Chris Evans, and Sterling K. Brown wore the IWC Portugieser.
The Galaxy Brain Award
Where unique taste and a love for watches converge, you will find Robert Downey Jr. No man wore so many watches that appeared on no other wrists this year. RDJ was a champion for smaller, tech-forward brands like De Bethune, Greubel Forsey, and Urwerk. I’d more quickly believe that Downey’s wrist accessories were alien artifacts than watches made by people in Switzerland.
There is a small but impressive club of people who wore Breitling watches this year: Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford, and Oscar Isaac (who wore an Iraqi Air Force-issued Navitimer—one of my favorite spots of the year). In terms of sheer quantity, Breitling won’t win any popularity contests, but if you are who you surround yourself with, the brand is doing phenomenally.
Originally Appeared on GQ