Clock and roll: how some musicians absolutely love their watches


Clock and roll: how some musicians absolutely love their watches

If the world’s biggest rockers spend this much on watches, why are they always late on stage?

Richard HoltPublished: 30 Jun 2023  External link to Top Gear Magazine Subscription – 5 issues for £5Skip 1 photos in the image carousel and continue reading

Rock stars love a good watch. From John Lennon’s Patek Philippe to Slash’s Breitling, a handsome watch has long been a vital part of the stage uniform. But while some may just see it as a prop to make them look cool, others take it to the next level, so obsessed that it’s a wonder they have any time left to make any music.

When Eric Clapton gets into something, he doesn’t do it by halves. His love of Ferraris is well known, having bought so many over the years that in 2012 he was allowed to commission a one-off all of his own, the 458 Italia-based SP12 EC. But his automotive addiction is mild compared to how he feels about watches. He has bought countless Rolex and Patek Philippes and his collection has been called “museum quality”. This is not just a man of means buying things he fancies – as well as many new watches, Clapton has carefully sought mega-rare vintage pieces, some costing several million quid.

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Singer-songwriter John Mayer is so into watches that he has added journalist to his CV. His knowledge is encyclopaedic and he pores over rare vintage watches like an archaeologist uncovering lost treasures. He regularly writes about his passion for watches and his ability to generate interest and boost the resale price of certain models has led to him being called the world’s most influential watch collector.

Ed Sheeran’s style is generally casual, with his habit of wearing a hoodie onstage. But he does not take such a laid-back approach to the acquisition of watches. He has previously sung about being “thrifty” and making the most out of his local all-you-can-eat restaurant. But now, Sheeran is rarely spotted wearing the same watch twice and has a collection boasting – among many, many others – several from Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille that cost in the high six figures, as well as at least one vintage Patek Philippe perpetual calendar worth well north of a million.

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But it’s not all about the money. While rock stars do love to splash their hard-sung cash on a bit of bling, the three watch nuts mentioned above have all been seen wearing different versions of the Casio G-Shock. So if you want the award-winning collection, you need a few spare mil, but if you just want a watch that rock stars wear, a couple of hundred quid is plenty.

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