Beer has the Most Interesting Man in the World: Dos Equis’ suave silver-haired spokesperson who paraglides, keeps an owl as a pet, and in one commercial descends from a helicopter to play a piano alone in the middle of the desert. The watch world has Drake, whose every piece notches a new, beguiling achievement in horological history. For Drake, nothing is off limits, nothing too gaudy, nothing transgressive enough. We are talking about a guy who customizes Rolexes, wears super-classic Pateks in rotation with roulette wheel-bearing wrist behemoths, and leverages his designer connections to score one-of-a-kind timekeepers.
.His collection is dazzling precisely because he seems to have skipped out on watch collecting 101. He customizes even the most iconic, do-not-customize watches, wears women’s Richard Mille pieces, trades out traditional bands for gaudy bracelets, and stands behind brands that make conventional collectors wince. These are all cardinal sins for collectors, but Drake doesn’t care for guardrails.
When it comes to his celebrity-collector peers, Drake is essentially playing a different sport. Here are a few of his most far-out pieces.
Drake’s Audemars Piguet Royal Oak…Customized by Alyx
The world is on pause, but Drake remains on turbo. Over the last few months, Drizzy has shown off watches that would break my WOWZA meter even in non-pandemic times. In early July, the rapper showed off a Rolex Day-Date customized by Chrome Hearts, the legendary edgy jeweler. The Day-Date always comes on an elegant “President” bracelet; Drake’s comes on a gnarled twisting tree trunk of a band blooming with diamond flowers.
Tapping into his network and getting the most premier brands and designers to rework iconic watches has been an incredibly fruitful strategy for Drake. After the Chrome Hearts Day-Date, Drake wore the Alyx-customized Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Last year, Alyx designer partnered with MAD Paris, watch customizers famous for blasting watches with a black coating, to create this special-edition piece. At the time, I wondered who exactly the audience was for an almost-50-grand piece that paired a contemporary luxury brand with an iconic timepiece. I should have known Drake sat at the bullseye.
Drake’s Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726/1A…Customized by Virgil Abloh
Turning the world’s hottest designers into his personal watch customizers is practically old hat for Drake at this point. “Virgil got that Patek on my wrist goin’ nuts,” Drake rapped on January’s “Life Is Good” with Future. The nuts Patek in question is a Nautilus completely set with emeralds, designed by Off-White and Louis Vuitton’s Virgil Abloh (or as Drake jokes in his Instagram caption, “Veerjil Ablow”). The watch looks like a mythical gleaming treasure you’d collect in a Zelda game. It is opulent enough—an already desirable Nautilus covered in a treasure chest worth of gems—to make his Toronto mansion look like a modest condo. (Drake’s other collab with Abloh is equally good: a private jet with the cloud design from the rapper’s Nothing Was the Same and the words “If You’re Reading This We Left” on its belly, visible as Drizzy flies away.)
Drake’s Jacob & Co. Astronomia Casino
Drake, you’ll know by now, is a thoroughly modern collector, rejecting all the passé reasons most cite for amassing watches: they’re a reminder of a simpler time, or they’re beautiful handmade machines. Drake doesn’t want simpler times—he wants Jacob & Co. pieces that he can play roulette on. The rapper’s collection of watches seems influenced by the idea that watches themselves are, in the age of the iPhone, a little irrelevant. All of the pieces I’ve listed so far are basically useless when it comes to telling the actual time. Instead, Drake approaches watches like magnificent pieces of jewelry—which is precisely what they are at this point.
Drake’s Richard Mille RM-69 “Erotic”
And if your watch doesn’t come with a fun casino game, you should at least be able to deploy it as a wingman. This watch gets to the point a lot quicker than the buddy who goes over and says, “My friend over there thinks you’re cute.” This Richard Mille RM-69 (lol, nice) “Erotic” gets the job done. Not only did Drake have the moxie to wear this unique piece in public—to an NBA Finals game, no less—he left it set to the words, “I’d Love to Kiss Your P***y.” For most people, wearing this watch to work would get them fired, or at least written up by HR. In the watch world, wearing a watch that pulls a hard U-turn away from adjectives like elegant or classic, would get you booted out of the club. But the RM-69 is pure kitsch, and kind of delightfully so. Just look at the model name: the piece’s bad taste is the whole point. (There are too many celebrities with Richard Mille watches to count, but hardly any wear the ones he Drake does: In addition to the Erotic, Drake also wears a thin ladies’ piece from the brand.)
Drake’s Rolex Day-Date
Drizzy gravitates to odd and obscure pieces, but he still appreciates the classics. Of course, when Drake does classic, he does it differently than everyone else. The Rolex Day-Date here is one of the most timeless and iconic watches in existence—so Drake had it set with diamonds. It’s like remixing Notorious BIG’s “Juicy.” The watch, though, is arguably proof of Drake’s understanding of his own style. He needed a watch to pair with a $150,000 NBA Finals ring—how is a classic Rolex going to hold its own in that situation?
Drake’s Patek Philippe Nautilus Patek 5976 40th Anniversary Edition
For Drake to leave a watch alone, it has to be the ultimate version of that watch. That is absolutely true for the Patek Philippe Nautilus he wore in some adorable family pictures earlier this year. This particular Nautilus was made to commemorate the model’s 40th anniversary. It’s stamped with the numbers “1976-40-2016 “ to mark the date, and only 1,300 were made. It doesn’t need any diamonds or Chrome Hearts bracelets to be pretty much exclusive to Drake. The lasting lesson that Drake leaves us with is a good one: sometimes it’s best not to screw with perfection.