6 Iconic Men and the Watches They Wore

Ron Galella/Getty Images

President Obama now prefers Rolex, while Brad Pitt is a fan of Breitling.

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In his 2017 book A Man and His Watch author Matt Hranek writes: “For many men, watches seem to have a deeper meaning than just keeping time. Watches mark special occasions, they tell the world a bit about who you are, and they can, if you’re lucky, connect you to the people in your life who matter most.” Hranek’s observation sums up pretty well why some men are fascinated with watches and why they end up collecting them. And celebrities are no different than us ordinary folk (the only difference is that they get recognized a lot more on the street.)

Whether they wear watches as a status symbol or as a reminder of a dear person, a lot of famous men throughout history were also passionate watch collectors and some of their timepieces ended up making history just like them.

Here we rounded up some of the watches, the world’s most iconic men have sported or still regularly wear (and yes, some of them you can actually shop right now).

Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona


From left: Ron Galella/Getty Images; Courtesy Philips 

Paul Newman’s status as a Hollywood legend may only be rivaled by his notoriety in the world of horology. The late actor owned without a doubt the most famous Rolex watch in the world. And, in 2017, it set a record by selling for over $17.5 million at an auction in New York.

The timepiece, a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, was given to him by his wife Joanne Woodward and had an engraved case back reading “Drive Carefully, Me” referring to Newman’s penchant for motor racing and high speed.

His was actually the very first model of Rolex’s now iconic Cosmograph Daytona series and featured a tachymeter scale engraved on the bezel—a feature designed to measure speed.

Marlon Brando’s Rolex GMT-Master


From left: AF archive/Alamy Stock Photo; Courtesy Phillips

Brando was a lifelong Rolex fan but the most famous watch he ever owned is the timepiece he wore in the movie Apocalypse Now while playing Colonel Walter E. Kurtz. The Rolex GMT Master, produced in 1972, had a black strap and was hand engraved by Brando himself.

The actor told his daughter that he wore the watch during the shooting of the movie and that he even had to argue with the filmmakers who wanted him to take it off because it would attract attention. Brando ended up winning that argument and only removed the bezel of the timepiece.

The watch was sold at an auction last year for $1.952 million.

Daniel Craig’s Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Co-Axial


From left: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images; Courtesy Omega

“I suppose that, for men, watches are a piece of jewelry that you can collect and, for me anyway, because of the precision and technology that goes into making them, they have a sort of fascination,” Craig, who is an avid watch collector, said in an interview in 2017.

The actor is especially fond of his Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Co-Axial watch that he wore in his first Bond movie in 2006, Casino Royale. The producers of the franchise gave it to him but interestingly enough Craig has only worn it once—in the opening sequence of the movie. The reason? “[…] it lives in the safe, which is maybe a bit sad, but I’m so desperately scared of losing it.”

To buy similar: $6,550, omegawatches.com

David Beckham’s Tudor Black Bay S&G


From left: Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images; Courtesy Tudor

David Beckham is not just a soccer legend, he is a style icon, too, so it’s only natural that he has an extensive watch collection. Most recently though, the soccer star has been spotted wearing timepieces from Tudor’s Black Bay line (of which he has been the face for the past two years).  

The S&G model (which stands for steel and gold) is fitted with a stainless steel and gold bracelet (Beckham also has one in vintage leather) as well as a gold bezel with a really cool matt black aluminum disc.

To buy: $7,000, tudorwatch.com

Barack Obama’s Rolex Cellini


From left: Samir Hussein/Getty Images; Courtesy Rolex

While for a very long time the 44th president wore a Jorg Gray wristwatch given to him as a birthday present from his security detail in 2007, when Obama became a private citizen he upgraded to a Rolex Cellini Ref. 50509.

He was spotted wearing the white gold piece alongside Prince Harry at the Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017. His Cellini has a 39mm polished white gold case, an ivory-hued dial, and a black leather strap.

To buy: $15,200, rolex.com

Brad Pitt’s Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Norton Edition


From left: Visual China Group/Getty Images; Courtesy Breitling

Pitt’s watch collection is probably just as famous as the actor himself. It includes timepieces by Cartier, Patek Philippe, and Rolex, just to name a few. But ever since the actor became an ambassador for Breitling, his watch of choice is Breitling’s Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Norton Edition.

The company teamed up with British motorcycle manufacturer, Norton, to create a timepiece that’s not just luxury but also super cool looking. It comes fitted with a raw brown leather strap, a 42-mm stainless steel case, and is powered by the Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01.

To buy: $8,500, breitling.com