The life of a celebrity is an interesting one, to be sure. They put in the work, of course, that makes them famous, but they’re set apart from the world at large. Scrutinized to a degree unlike any other. However, the brands they endorse can often make them more relatable. Such is the life of a celebrity influencer: whatever the item or brand might be, its demand increases significantly anytime that celebrity is seen wearing it (just ask the Kardashians). It doesn’t matter if it’s a true endorsement or just personal preference.
On the other side of the celebrity equation, brands (like luxury watch brands) are aware of our cultural infatuation with celebrities. As such, they jump at the opportunity to get their watches on the wrists of the rich and famous.
Many of today’s top celebrities–actors, athletes, entertainers–are endorsed by luxury watch brands, putting a watch in front of millions of eyes each time they wear it. When a celebrity is seen wearing a watch, whether to the grocery store, in an advertisement, or in a movie, fans notice. At the same time, luxury watch companies also pay big bucks to put their watches in films. Here are some of the most famous watch/celebrity partnerships.
In the early days of film, before product placement was a lucrative practice, props masters decided on wardrobes. Plenty of watch brands have made it onto the big screen in movies and television. Off-screen, movie premieres and award shows present plenty of opportunities to get a watch on a celebrity wrist. Becuase of this, actor/watch brand partnerships are all too common, and many actors are serious collectors themselves. In fact, plenty of classic screen icons loved their watches: Steve McQueen, Humphrey Bogart, and Marlon Brando, to name a few. What about modern acting icons?
For a while there, Brad Pitt was a TAG Heuer ambassador. The celebrity tabloid mainstay and acclaimed actor/producer has since moved on. These days, he can be spotted in several vintage and modern Patek Philippe watches, but he has plenty of Rolex, Cartier, and A. Lange & Söhne. Likewise, he favors timepieces from independent brands like Red Monkey Designs and Terra Cielo Mare.
It should be no surprise that the “modern” Bond is a big fan of OMEGA watches. Of course, since James Bond has been wearing a Rolex for over 20 years now (Read: James Bond’s Watches). Craig’s role in the Bond series sparked a real appreciation for timepieces, and he owns several vintage and modern OMEGA and Rolex watches.
One of Bradley Cooper’s biggest roles came in 2014’s American Sniper as former Marine Chris Kyle (take a look at Kyle’s personal watches here). In his personal life, Cooper prefers IWC. He’s been spotted out and about with a Big Pilot, as well as with a couple different IWC Portuguese models.
Robert Downey, Jr.
GQ did a story in 2016 about Robert Downey, Jr.’s watch collection, which was both amusing and insightful (you can view the video here). Included in his collection? A Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 3, a Patek Philippe Nautilus, a Rolex “Hulk” Submariner, a Bamford Watch Department GMT-Master II, as well as a fake Breitling and OMEGA Speedmaster. Downey, Jr., who plays Tony Stark in the Iron Man and Avengers film series, doesn’t seem to be an avid collector, though.
Hugh Jackman became the global ambassador for Montblanc watches in 2016. Before that, he hung his hat with watch brand Girard-Perregaux. Previously, he’d been known to wear a Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945, but more recently, he’s been seen with a Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum.
If there is a celebrity/watch brand pairing more closely aligned than Sylvester Stallone and Panerai, we don’t know about it. The story goes that Stallone was filming in Italy in 1993, walked into a Panerai shop there, and fell in love with the brand’s watches. He wore a Panerai Luminor Marina in the 1995 thriller Daylight and the rest is history.
Stallone has worn a Panerai in a number of films and is known to give them out as gifts to friends and associates. Needless to say, Stallone is a big Panerai fan—and the brand is a big fan of him too. Panerai released a limited edition “Slytech” watch in the 90s, and the brand’s association with such a big celebrity helped to raise its cultural profile.
Everyone’s favorite anti-hero is a Piaget brand ambassador, and his go-to watch is a Piaget Polo S. Contractually obligated or not, Ryan Reynolds is clear on his watch criteria: “To me, what matters about a watch is that it’s timeless, it’s elegant, it’s functional at a high level, and that it’s flexible.”
Captain America likes his Swiss watches. Chris Evans is a brand ambassador for IWC, which means he’s worn some pretty nice watches, including the Portuguese, Ingenieur, and Pilot.
Mark Wahlberg loves his Rolexes. Especially his gold Rolexes. He’s well known in the watch world for his gold Yacht-Master II, a 50th-anniversary yellow-gold Rolex GMT-Master II ceramic with a green dial, and gold Rolex Submariner with a black dial.
Matt Damon made a splash at the 2016 Oscars when he showed up wearing a Van Cleef & Arpels the Astronomie Poétique Midnight Planétarium. Appropriate, since he was nominated for Best Actor for his role as astronaut Mark Watney in The Martian. Day to day, though, Damon sticks to TAG Heuer. He’s been spotted in both Formula 1 and Link chronographs.
Beyond his career as an actor, John Travolta is a veteran pilot. It makes sense then that he prefers pilot watches. He became a brand ambassador for Breitling in 2005 and has appeared in ads for the Navitimer since then.
Over 30 years in the film and Tom Cruise is still one of the biggest celebrities in the business. The action-adventure mainstay picks personal watches that reflect his more rugged, everyday-guy persona. As a pilot, he really likes his Bremont ALT-1C, with his Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore GP Singapur a close second, followed by several different IWC models. Interestingly, he sported a Casio G-Shock in the first three Mission: Impossible films, so clearly Ethan Hunt has taste for a reliable beater.
In 2009, everyone found out about Orlando Bloom’s impressive watch collection thanks to the exploits of the Bling Ring. When the group of teenage thieves targeted his home, they stole over $500,000 worth of rare Rolex watches including an Explorer II 1655, 1950s vintage Milgauss 6543, GMT-Master 1675, and several other watches.
Leonardo DiCaprio is a long-time TAG Heuer ambassador. In the past, he’s worn several different TAG Heuer models on the red carpet.
Watch companies have sponsored athletes and sports events since the days of Heuer and competitive auto racing. Unsurprisingly, the practice of celebrity athlete/watch partnerships is thriving today, not least because luxury watch brands sponsor many sports tournaments and act as official timers during events (see OMEGA & the Olympics or Timepieces & Tennis).
Indisputably one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Serena Williams has dominated the sport since she turned pro. But she’s still a woman who likes nice things, which is why she became an ambassador for Audemars Piguet in 2013. Celebrating her wins on the court, she sticks with her Royal Oak Offshore in rose gold, but at the 2017 Met Gala, she wore AP’s Diamond Outrage bracelet/watch combo. (Read: Serena Williams’ Watches)
Before Tudor snagged him as a global ambassador in 2017, David Beckham was loyal to Breitling. Breitling named the soccer star and all-around celebrity personality as an ambassador in 2012, giving him a Breitling Transocean Chronograph Unitime Worldtime watch to wear. Beyond his Breitlings (and now Tudors) though, Beckham is a fan of Rolexes, and owns several watches from Jacob & Co.
As one of the most recognized athletes in the world, LeBron James is both a powerful basketball player and divisive personality. While he has an enviable watch collection that includes a gold AP Royal Oak and a Rolex Yacht-Master II, LeBron James’ watch of choice is the custom-designed Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore. Read more about Lebron James’ AP watch here.
Rolex has had Roger Federer in its cadre of celebrity watch ambassadors for years. And he pays them back well in his numerous tennis tournament victories, always wearing a Rolex on his wrist. In Federer’s collection? A Daytona 6363, a platinum Datejust, and many, many more. (Read: Roger Federer’s Watches)
Though he’s retired now, Kobe Bryant still has a pretty good watch game. He and Hublot developed several Big Bang designs together for limited release collections starting in 2013.
TAG Heuer added Superbowl mainstay Tom Brady to its stable of athletes in 2015, in conjunction with its launch of the Carrera Heuer 01. No surprise—it’s his go-to watch. Sporty? Check.
Tiger Woods has partnered with several watch brands in his career. First up, Tudor, who created the Tudor Tiger Prince for him. Then it was TAG Heuer, who put him on advertisements for the Link. Now? He counts Rolex as a sponsor, and proudly dons a Rolex Sea-Dweller.
Strong golfer, World #2, OMEGA Ambassador. All titles Rory McIlroy earned in his young career so far. He appears in OMEGA advertisements for the Aqua Terra, which is an understated model in the Seamaster lineup. Before he joined OMEGA in 2013, though, McIlroy partnered with Audemars Piguet, and he was quite fond of the Royal Oak Offshore.
Those who follow professional tennis know about Rafael Nadal and Richard Mille. Nadal is one of the only players to wear a watch on the court, and those Richard Mille watches aren’t cheap. But they are functional—and light. (Read: Rafael Nadal’s Watches)
The fastest man in the land and Olympic champion Usain Bolt doesn’t wear a watch on the track. But when he does strap on a timepiece, it’s likely to be the Hublot King Power Usain Bolt he and the brand designed together in 2012.
In 2013, Novak Djokovic left a fruitful sponsorship with Audemars Piguet for Seiko. He prefers either a Worldtime or an Astron, depending on the situation, and the two partner regularly in service of Djokovic’s charity foundation. (Read: Novak Djokovic’s Watches)
Since he solidified his partnership with watch brand Rado in 2012, Andy Murray has been spotted with a Rado D-star 200 and Hypercrome self-winding chronograph. Many Murray fans attribute his ambassadorship to a good luck charm—after their partnership became official, he became the first Brit to conquer at Wimbledon since 1936 (Read: Andy Murray’s Watches)
Luxury watches have become–for better or for worse—linked with the excesses of the celebrity set. Rappers shout out name brands in their music, as a symbol of their success. Celebrity performers don watches in partnership with big brand names, whether the ambassadorships really makes sense or not. And then there are the celebrities that genuinely enjoy the art of watch collecting.
Rocker John Mayer is a well-known watch lover (just check out his Talking Watches with HODINKEE). He estimates the value of his collection to be in the millions (yes, millions). And, while he owns many watches, here’s a select few: a Rolex Explorer II (the first watch he bought himself), a Paul Newman Daytona, an 18k Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, several Patek Philippes, and some vintage Casio G-Shocks.
Before he discovered Hublot watches, Jay-Z rapped about Rolex and Audemars Piguet. He owns a pretty impressive–and pretty blingy–collection of watches from Richard, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Hublot, Rolex, and Audemars Piguet. He’s also collaborated with brands: both Hublot and AP made special edition watches with him.
Jay-Z’s wife Beyoncé, record-breaking singer and performer in her own right, made the Apple Watch look cool. She owns an original model with a gold link bracelet. And it seems she understands Jay-Z’s watch obsession enough to shell out $5 million for an all-diamond Hublot Big Bang for his birthday.
Maroon 5 frontman and The Voice judge Adam Levine may have rocker style, but his watch tastes lean more traditional. For one, he really likes his vintage Rolexes. In fact, he owns several different Paul Newman Daytonas in steel and gold, and rotates out his no-crown guard Submariner, Day-Date, and GMT-Master regularly.
Comedian and actor Kevin Hart takes his watch collection very seriously. Between the numerous Rolexes and Patek Philippes, Kevin Hart sports Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet. He’s clearly an appreciator of the finer things.
Comedian and daytime talk show juggernaut Ellen DeGeneres is quite the Rolex fan. With a collection of both vintage and modern timepieces, Ellen has been spotted with a few Rolex Daytonas (her favorite), a Day-Date President, and rose gold Yacht-Master.
Model/actress/celebrity It-girl Cara Delevingne was a bit of an odd choice when TAG Heuer brought her on as an ambassador for its #DontCrackUnderPressure campaign, but she’s inspired some very feminine TAG Heuer Carrera pieces from the brand for its ladies collection.
Politicians are arguably the only “celebrity” subset that gets such intense scrutiny into their wardrobe and watch choices. At least in the last couple of decades, regulations on the vlaue of personal gifts, and the constant pressure to appeal to most people leads to some interesting watch choices. But celebrity or not, let’s look at some watches worn by famous political figures. (Read More: Watches in Politics)
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy acquired many watches as gifts during his lifetime, leading to an impressive assortment of timepieces. Most well-known? The OMEGA Ultra Thin he wore when he took the Oath of Office, and the Cartier Tank he wore the day he died. Learn about the rest of Kennedy’s watches over here.
Obama loves his fitness trackers, which he wears almost as often as he wears a watch. In 2007, his Secret Service detail bought him a Jorg Gray watch, which he wore often, and before that point, he sported a TAG Heuer Series 15000.
We choose not to guess about how Vladimir Putin is able to afford his expensive collection of watches. What we do know are his favorite brands: Patek Philippe, A. Lange & Sohne, Breguet, and Blancpain.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump wore a Vacheron Constantin Historiques Ultra-Fine 1968 in pink gold. In the past, he’s also sported a Patek Philippe Ellipse and a Rolex Day-Date. We’ll see how the presidency affects his watch choices. (Read: Watches Worn by U.S. Presidents)
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The great Civil Rights icon was a one-watch sort of man. His favored timepiece was a gold Rolex Datejust, which can be found in many photos of him around the height of his fame. (Read: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Watch)
Celebrities and watches go hand in hand. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement for both. Why? Because luxury watch brands get their product on the wrists of the day’s biggest names. Likewise, celebrities get a nice watch to wear (and a not-insignificant amount of money in their pocket).
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 15, 2014. We have updated it to include more information.
Image Credits: Header,4-5,10-11,14; Getty. 1; OMEGA. 2; GQ. 3; via Horologue. 6; Ella Ling/BPI/Rex. 7; Youtube. 8; Rolex. 9; Richard Mille. 12; Randall Slavin via Haute Time. 13; TAG Heuer. 15. Reuters.