All five are from 2019, I sifted through a year of celebrity watch sightings on red carpets, VIP parties, talk shows, and coffees to find the most popular items and brands among celebrities. language. I do it because I think it helps us understand what watches are going mainstream. It is also an indicator of desire: which watch attracts the most audience with unlimited access, lots of money, and many events on the schedule? In fact, these are luxury watches for everyone—and these are the watches they wear the most.
The most popular watch of the year
For the first time in four years, the most popular watches by celebrities have changed. A little, at least. In the past, this list has stuck: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Patek Philippe Nautilus and Rolex. This year, the final tally brings us a new, if less diverse, top three.
1. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
2. Rolex GMT-Master II
T-3. Rolex Daytona
T-4. Rolex Day-Date
The Royal Oak is the most popular watch of 2022 — so many celebrities have worn it, I really have to more Collum into the Google Sheets that I’ve used to track watches for years. The reason for all the RO love this year? Watches is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and AP has rolled out a large number of different special edition watches — worn on the wrists of LeBron James, John Mayer, Serena Williams, Anthony Davis, and Ben Simmons. Royal Oak green ceramic was also a big hit among celebrities. All these special editions propelled the watch to unprecedented popularity.
Meanwhile, the The GMT-Master is the highlight of Rolex’s new releases from this year. Crown has come up with a new destructive (left-handed) version of this model with a green and black “Sprite” bezel. The likes of Russell Westbrook and Roger Federer have worn that watch, while many others feel the need to show off their own GMT. This isn’t just a celebrity-collecting phenomenon, either. Whenever Rolex comes out with a new version of a model, it always creates a demand for adjacent models from the past. Apparently celebrities are also easily persuaded. Out of all the flavors of the watch, my favorite is the black and brown Root Beer.
It is not surprising that the Day-Date and the Daytona have become so popular, but it is surprising to see which watches they appear on the podium. Nautilus, after three years of being part of the popular crowd, was unusually dumped. Of course, it’s not like he’s lost his status, but it’s more like being kicked out of school by his family. Patek discontinued its most popular version of Nautilus, the plain 5711, because it attracts too much limelight. Since that decision, the number of watches in this non-scientific ranking has decreased. However, I don’t want to say too much about the decline of Nautilus. If we remove Rolex from this test, the Nautilus will be the next most popular watch after the Royal Oak.
Brand of the Year
Rolex, once again, was miles ahead of the competition. I counted 64 Rolexes on celebrity wrists this year, and AP is next with 33—just two of which are not Royal Oak, Royal Oak Concept or Royal Oak Offshore. That’s what makes the Rolex dominance so impressive: it gets the job done with great variety. After the Royal Oak, the next most spotted watches are other Rolex watches: GMT, Daytona, and Day-Date.
The consistency of these results over the years obscures some of the changes occurring in the background. Celebrity wearables have certainly diversified since 2019. I’m spotting brands like Omega, Cartier, IWC, Tag Heuer and even Vacheron Constantin more than I did in just a few years. before.
Even so, the race was tough for Richard Mille. What is one of the top brands in 2019–35 points!—in freefall. I only see brand watches six times in 2022.
I’ve seen twice as many Tag Heuer watches than last year. And on top of that, the brand is doing it without a killer watch that gets all the attention. Celebrities are spreading wealth around watches like the Monaco, Carrera and Aquaracer. Clearly, partnerships with the likes of Ryan Gosling, Jacob Elordi and Jimmy Butler are paying off. Now, I just need to find out which A-listers are brave enough to wear the brand’s new Mario Kart watch.
Vacheron Constantin has gone from an impeccable goose egg to sixth this year. Pretty good! And every time the brand reminds us why it is so special and why you might not see it on the wrists of many celebrities. The brand’s watches aren’t meant to be flashy but celebrities like Tom Cruise, Steph Curry and Michael B. Jordan have shown why they are great red carpet companions.