Rock the Watch

Mick Jagger – Heuer Autavia

Rock and roll and watches? You may be surprised to learn that many of rock and roll’s top acts are also watch collectors.  With big money comes expensive hobbies, and watch collecting certainly ranks among them. Here we have focused on several greats in the world of Rock and Roll and the watches that make them tick. 

Eric Clapton – Patek Philippe

Eric Clapton - Rolex Milgausse
Eric Clapton – Rolex Milgausse

Eric Clapton needs no introduction in the rock world. It turns out he needs little introduction in the watch world, where he is well respected as a very serious watch collector.  Rolexes played a role in his early collecting, and he is shown above in concert wearing a recent Rolex Milgauss, 40 mm steel case with green crystal.  However, he is probably best known for his Patek Philippe 2499, 37.5 mm platinum case, perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phase.

Eric-Clapton-Patek 2499
Eric Clapton – Patek 2499

Only 349 pieces have been created by Patek Philippe of its 2499 model since the first one was introduced in the 1950s, of which only two have been made in platinum. Clapton’s watch was the only platinum one to have ever been in private hands. The other one is in the Patek Philippe museum in Geneva. This particular Patek was recently sold by Clapton for US$3.6 million at the Christie’s Geneva watch Auction.

Mick Jagger – The Rolling Stones – Tag Heuer

Mick Jagger - Heuer Carrera
Mick Jagger – Heuer Carrera

The Rolling Stones remain as one of the most successful rock acts of the 1960s and 70s and they are still actively touring.  Frontman Mick Jagger, which recently turned 70 years old, is also known to own many timepieces.  It is his interest in Heuer timepieces (now Tag Heuer) during the 1970s that I find particularly interesting.  He is shown in the lead photo above wearing a 1970’s Heuer Autavia 11630P 42mm steel case, and in the recording studio wearing a 1970’s Heuer Carrera 35mm steel case.Watches in the 1970s, like today, had fairly large proportions.  They also have a great retro-look.  Originally, these were relatively inexpensive time pieces, selling for slightly over $200; and you can still find them at auction for under $3,000.

John Lennon – The Beatles – Patek Philippe

John Lennon – Patek 2499

John Lennon’s music, like his style choices, is as timeless and contemporary today as they ever were. Here he is pictured wearing what appears to be a Patek Philippe 2499, 37.5mm yellow gold, perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phase. This would be like the Eric Clapton Patek watch, but in yellow gold.  This watch is alleged to have been a 40th birthday gift from Yoko Ono.It also would have been a great investment, as this particular reference Patek in yellow gold has recently sold at Christie’s auction for over $350,000. Unfortunately, the photo, although appearing to be a Patek 2499, is simply not clear enough to definitively determine whether it is or not.  But if it is, it’s very cool.

Steven Tyler – Aerosmith – Rolex

Steven Tyler – Rolex Daytona

Steven Tyler formed the band Aerosmith in the 1970s and had been a rock icon, consistently touring ever since.  It turns out that he has a thing for Rolexes.  Legend has it that in his early crazed rock days, he would trash his hotel rooms and throw his Rolex at the wall.  Although backstage at an Aerosmith concert is a far more congenial affair nowadays, his choice in Rolex seems anything but tame; shown here in a Rolex Perpetual Cosmograph Dayton, 40mm gold case with a leopard print strap and dial.  Although you might expect this to be an after-market modification, this particular Dayton with leopard print strap and dial, is actually produced by Rolex, and retails for $71,350. Indeed, dude looks like a lady.

Paul Stanley – Kiss – Zenith

Paul Stanley - Zenith
Paul Stanley – Zenith Type 20

Kiss remains one of the most successful rock bands of the 1970s, and it also continues to tour today.  Their lead singer, Paul Stanley, is also known in watch circles as a serious collector. Seen here wearing a recent Zenith release, the Montre d’Aeronef Type 20, in a whopping 57.5mm titanium case, limited to 250 pieces (sold out) and retailed at $12,800.  Aviation-inspired watches have seen a renaissance of late.  Traditionally, they were large watches; a necessity for clear visibility during flight in the early days of aviation.  Zenith has since released a similar Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 in a large, but slightly more manageable 48mm.  Yes, the era of enormous watches continues unabated.

Simon Lebon – Duran Duran – Panerai

Duran Duran - Panerai PAM090
Duran Duran – Panerai PAM090

Duran Duran is one of my favorite bands from the 1980s.  The iconic music video for their single Rio helped usher in the video age on MTV.  It was the sailboat “Eilean” which was used in the original Rio video shot in Antigua; and here is where the watch tie-in comes.  It was refurbished by Panerai as part of their Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. In 2012 Simon Lebon, a sailor himself, along with Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor, was on hand at the 30th anniversary of the Rio video, at the annual Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta; with his Panerai .  Simon’s model is a PAM 090 44mm steel case which retails for $8,700.    Long live the Eilean.

Depeche Mode – Hublot

Depeche Mode - watch -
Big Bang Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode is also one of my favorite bands from the 1980s. When it comes to watches, they have gone one step further than the other watch collectors here. They have collaborated with a Swiss watch company Hublot to create a timepiece.  The result is the Big Bang Depeche Mode, with a 44mm black ceramic case and bezel, limited to 250 pieces and retailing for $22,900.  The sales of this particular watch will benefit Charity Water, a charity dear to the band which provides clean water to the world’s poor.

Owning a Swiss watch is something of a rite of passage for many. Some of us are lucky enough to inherit a fine timepiece. Others may have to earn it.  The establishment’s traditional gift after 25 years of corporate service was after all, a gold watch.   Rock and rolls’ rebellion against that establishment may at first seem at odds with collecting fine Swiss watches. But if you love art, craftsmanship and quality, it’s very easy to reconcile a great watch with great music — Rock and Roll.

If you are interested in more information about Heuer and Mick Jagger, please read onthedash.

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