Ever since Michael Jordan, NBA stars have been seen by many as style icons. One accessory that’s an absolute must is a luxury watch – and one that’s as expensive, rare, and showy as possible. On that note, let’s take a closer look below at some awe-inspiring NBA stars’ watch collections.
LeBron James: Modern and Sporty
Many consider LeBron James the best basketball player in the world right now, but his teammates also know him as a passionate luxury watch collector. One of his first luxury timepieces was a Rolex Day-Date II. In the 1990s, Michael Jordan made this relatively modest dress watch fashionable among these kings of the hardwood. It has now become something of a tradition for new NBA stars to purchase a Day-Date as soon as they ink their first professional contract. This is easy enough to understand, because what other watch exudes a sense of success better than this Rolex classic?
The Day-Date definitely appears to have helped LeBron acquire a taste for luxury watches. Following his Rolex, the future hall-of-famer had a look at different brands, with Audemars Piguet catching his eye. The feeling was apparently mutual because the storied Swiss watchmaker named the charismatic basketball star its spokesperson in 2011. Two years later, Audemars Piguet introduced the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph LeBron James. Limited to 600 pieces, AP invited James to help their design team create the watch. Together, they decided upon a brushed rose gold case, a brushed titanium bezel, and a gray crocodile leather strap.
Even rarer than LeBron’s signature model is the Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph 25th Anniversary. James owns two copies: one in stainless steel and the other in 18-karat rose gold, both of which had limited runs of a mere 50 pieces. In addition, the six-foot-nine NBA veteran also owns the Royal Oak Concept Black Panther Flying Tourbillon introduced in 2021. This titanium watch emerged from a cooperation between Audemars Piguet and Marvel Studios. Its dial is dominated by an 18-karat white gold, hand-painted 3D rendition of Marvel’s Black Panther. Also featuring a flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock, AP will only produce 250 copies of this sleek timepiece.
LeBron James’ affinity for the futuristic design of the Black Panther watch gives us a hint at some other timepieces he enjoys. Along with his love of Audemars Piguet, recent years have seen James develop a passion for the high-tech creations by the up-and-coming luxury watchmaker Richard Mille. LeBron owns at least three different RM 11-03s: a standard rose gold model, a variant in red TPT quartz, and the rare Jean Todt edition made of blue TPT quartz.
Stephen Curry’s Design Classics
Stephen Curry is another NBA star with a fascinating watch collection, including a few models you won’t find on too many other players’ wrists. You’ll often see the two-time league MVP donning a gold Movado Museum Classic. This quartz timepiece exudes timeless design. Created in 1947 by American artist Nathan George Horwitt, it features a black dial whose only marking is a single gold dot at 12 o’clock. Since 1960, this watch has been part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent Architecture and Design Collection in New York City.
Another classic you’ll spot in Curry’s collection is the Cartier Santos Skeleton. This timepiece’s roots stretch all the way back to 1904. It was created by Louis Cartier for the aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont and is considered the world’s first men’s wristwatch. Curry selected the modern variant with the skeletonized manual caliber 9619 MC, whose bridges perform the double duty as Cartier’s trademark Roman numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock.
Curry also owns a rare Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea ref. 116660. Originally designed for professional divers, this watch boasts 3,900 meters (382 bar, 12,800 ft) of water resistance. While its hefty 44-mm case is the largest in Rolex’s catalog, it still fits nicely and looks great on the wrist of the six-foot-three NBA star.
Other watches in Curry’s collection include the obligatory Rolex Day-Date II, a classic yellow gold Royal Oak, and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver.
Michael Jordan: Basketball Legend & Watch Aficionado
An article about luxury watches in the NBA wouldn’t be complete without a glimpse into the collection of Michael Jordan – the man who got the whole NBA watch trend started.
As mentioned, Jordan established the Rolex Day-Date as the unofficial “starter” luxury watch of every NBA pro. Although you’ll rarely see the NBA legend wearing his Day-Date these days, you will find him sporting other classics from the Swiss watchmaker. Just two examples include the platinum Daytona ref. 116506 and the yellow gold GMT-Master II ref. 116758SANR with 112 diamonds and 12 black sapphires on its bezel.
Jordan is also one of the most famous fans of Italian cult brand Panerai. His collection includes, among others, a Luminor Marina PAM172, a Radiomir PAM 425, and a Radiomir 8 Days PAM 266 “Cellini.” In fact, the Cellini is a special edition created for the eponymous New York jeweler.
Jordan’s passion for watches is reflected in the highlights of his collection, which boasts an A. Lange & Söhne Datograph and a Franck Muller Long Island Perpetual Calendar – two timepieces you’ll rarely find other pro athletes wearing. His collection also features an Audemars Piguet Millenary, a Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pirelli Skeleton, and Urwerk’s futuristic UR-202. All three are unique luxury watches worthy of sitting on the wrist of basketball’s all-time great.
Jordan’s watch expertise is on full display with his timepieces from luxury Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin. One example is the platinum Royal Blue Mystery Tourbillon, whose namesake tourbillion appears suspended in the midair at 6 o’clock. Diamonds fully encrust its dial and lugs, and its case and bracelet sides are lined with blue sapphires. Another timepiece in Jordan’s collection is the Ulysse Nardin Sonata Cathedral. Its in-house caliber, the UN-67, features complications like a cathedral gong, alarm, countdown timer, second time zone, and large date window.
The NBA isn’t the only place you’ll find professional athletes sporting great-looking timepieces. Luxury watches are also a favorite accessory among NFL players and can, of course, be seen on the wrists of stars from professional soccer leagues around the world.