Rappers & Watches: A Bling-Encrusted Romance

We’ve previously surveyed the realm of basketballers and their preferred tickers and found a panoply of brands, styles, interests, and degrees of collecting fanaticism. In the land of hip hop, however, while the brands are less diverse, the designs are pretty much insane. Bling rules among this ice-centric set, and naturally, name-dropping is tantamount to wearing, so the brands you’d probably expect have a strong showing in the lyrics of any rapper trying to state their status.

So common is the Swiss watch name-drop, in fact, that GMT Minus Five blogger Jeff Gharakhanian even began a lyrical analysis project, mapping out the volume of brands mentioned in the lyrics of rappers like Rick Ross, Jay Z, and Kanye West:

Rick Ross & Jay Z watch brand name-drops - © Jeff Gharakhanian

Images © Jeff Gharakhanian. Check out his full analysis here!

Are we surprised to see Rolex sweep the competition (clocking in a cool 60% of Yeezy mentions)? Of course not, but the appearances of brands like Vacheron Constantin and Franck Müller betray a broader appreciation for fine horology than a mere devotion to status symbols. Pharrell exposed his watch chops with a lyric out of 2009’s “Can I Have it Like That”: “She knows the time, she sees the Richard Mille, flat double skeletal tourbillon,” which we’re pretty sure is the only known utterance of the word “tourbillon” in all of pop music.

As a leading statesman of the hip hop scene, Jay Z boasts an appropriate level of watch appreciation, not only in his lyrics, but in both his personal style and business. A known AP man (whose custom Royal Oak Offshore fetched $220,000 at the 2010 charity auction Time to Give), he’s also lovingly worn and rapped about Hublot on tracks like “Nickels and Dimes” and “Picasso Baby.” Last year Hova graced the stage of Carnegie Hall in an ultra-classy Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute To 1931 Reverso and in the same performance subsequently sported an AP Jules Audemars Tourbillon Chronograph AND a Rolex Day-Date II).

Rick Ross, a veritable human symbol of high-rolling luxury, is a bombastic watch enthusiast, clocking in 27 horological name-drops in his catalogue (as of Gharakhanian’s 2014 analysis), but gets docked a few credo points for allegedly skipping the bill on $90,000 worth of Rolexes from a retailer in Texas—and getting sued for it.

But rhymes spit about watches aren’t just a man’s game, and, true to a proud career busting her way into boys’ clubs, Nicki Minaj has laid her own claim to the hip hop tradition of luxury for luxury’s sake. Rapping “Yeah, I got an Audemars and I ain’t set the time once, and I know they say they shine but I ain’t seen ’em shine once,” in Young Money’s 2014 track “Senile,” Ms. Minaj has actually been seen more commonly in a rose gold Rolex Day-Date II.

Whether worn for style, status or out of pure horological appreciation, we’re definitely all in agreement here that the finest of watches is among the finest of all things…though, despite Nicki’s brush-off, we still prefer an AP that’s been set.

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