Giannis Antetokounmpo seems to be much more comfortable with a pair of rubber bracelets around his wrists than a watch. Since I started writing this column in April of last year, I’ve seen the back-to-back MVP wear exactly one watch: a Rolex Oyster Perpetual. It’s important to note that the Oyster Perpetual is Rolex’s very entry-level model—a piece befitting a manager with a bonus check to burn, not a two-time MVP. But there Antetokounmpo was, wearing his to the 2019 NBA Awards ceremony. The choice of wristwear aligned with everything we know about the famously frugal Greek Freak. Remember when he went gaga over a refrigerator of free water bottles in the NBA bubble, lugging a trash bag full of them back to his room? It felt like neither fame nor money had the power to change Antetokounmpo. But it appears all the Freak needed to treat himself was a $228 million push over the edge. This week, while signing his new historically rich supermax contract with the Bucks, Antetokounmpo was wearing—I’ll be damned!—a very nice watch.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore is far from entry-level. This piece comes with a pricetag of roughly $22,000—and, as we’ve written recently, any Royal Oak is the de facto watch for celebrities with reason to celebrate. Signing a massive new contract counts. And this is definitely the right watch: the Greek Freak has a tendency to make normal-sized objects look like miniatures, so naturally he upgraded to the supersized Offshore version of the Royal Oak. And while I know $22,000 is a massive amount of money, relative to Antetokounmpo’s NBA equals, the cost of most luxury watches, and $228 million dollars, this is a drop in the bucket. So maybe we can still call him frugal after all.
LeBron James’s Audemars Piguet black ceramic Royal Oak
Just like they do on the court, James and Antetokounmpo are battling it out in watchworld. Bron’s openworked black ceramic version of the Royal Oak is Audemars Piguet’s newest release, and one of the most desirable in the world of watches right now. Watch site Hodinkee called black ceramic the “hottest material in watchmaking,” largely due to AP’s constant experimentation with it. So far, AP’s only released five models of the Royal Oaks in black ceramic and each one is rarer than the last. “This means they’re hard to get. Like, really hard to get. You need to be an existing customer with an AP boutique, and a good one at that,” Hodinkee writes of this piece. Somehow I don’t think that’s a problem for a guy like LeBron.
Robert Lewandowski’s Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski won the FIFA men’s Player of the Year award, and he apparently got the memo sent out to every superstar athlete this week. Like Bron and Antetokounmpo, Lewandowski wore a Royal Oak. It’s not difficult to see the appeal of the watch—just look at how much variation exists between these three watches. Giannis went huge, James’s is all about case material, and then Lewandowski comes through with this delicious grape dial. No two Royal Oaks are the same and this particular model has a museum-grade face: in addition to the purple, there’s also that tourbillon—the ultimate flex in watchmaking.
Karl-Anthony Towns’s Rolex Day-Date
OK, so it’s not a Royal Oak, but Towns is proof you can never go wrong with a Rolex Day-Date. Something about seeing the same watch three times in a row can give you a totally different perspective on a classic piece like this. Why bother with an octagon when you can have a circle? Who needs the flex of a tourbillon over the sheer convenience of a watch that writes out the day of the week? Yeah, ceramic is cool but is it really that much better than good-old gold, baby!?
2 Chainz’s Cartier de Santos
While in attendance at Offset’s birthday party, 2 Chainz wore a Cartier Santos. Evidence continues to pile up that a bust-down Santos is the next great rapper watch. Over the course of this year, the watch has been worn by Swae Lee and Tyler, the Creator. Just last week, at Lil Baby’s birthday party, Young Thug wore an iced-out skeletonized version of the Santos. It’s a smart move: as everyone is zigging towards sport watches from Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Richard Mille, folks like 2 Chainz are zagging towards Cartier.