Famous watch collectors: Jay Z

We're pretty sure at least one of his 99 problems is deciding which of his stunning watches to wear.

Meryl D'Souza August 31, 2016

“New watch alert: Hublots. Or the big face Rollie, I got two of those."

You’ll hear Jay Z spit that line 51 seconds into the song “Otis” from his and Kanye West’s first collaborative album Watch the Throne in 2011. The song won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance and was nominated for another in the Best Rap Song category. But we’re not here to talk about its musical credentials.

Despite its critical acclaim, horologists will remember “Otis” for the effect it had on Hublot. Jay Z’s biography, Empire State of Mind by Zack O'Malley Greenburg in 2011, calls it “monumental”. The Swiss luxury watchmaker’s CEO Jean-Claude Biver said, “We could feel an increase in demand, but that demand could not be transformed into turnover because we were out of stock.” 

Almost two years later, Jay Z collaborated with Hublot to add to the company’s Classic Fusion line of timepieces with The Shawn Carter by Hublot range. It included two limited edition styles, one in yellow gold that was limited to 100 pieces and the other in black ceramic that was limited to 250 pieces. 

Following the success of Watch the Throne, Jay and Kanye gave out Rolex GMT Masters to the sound engineers who kept the album from leaking. The watches are said to be engraved with “W.T.T” on the caseback. 

You only have to pay attention to Jay Z’s rhymes to know what he’s wearing. The man has made a career out of mentioning brands in his tracks. In fact, Vanity Fair painstakingly created an infographic about Jay Z’s most mentioned brands and segregated them by albums.

Evidently Jay Z wasn’t always a Hublot man. Like most watch enthusiasts, he fell in love with Rolex but soon pledged allegiance to Audemars Piguet. The watchmakers even went on to create a limited-edition watch to commemorate his 10th anniversary in the music business, and Jay would rap about the brand also.

Got a broken clock, Rollies that don't tick tock / Audemars that's losing time, hidden behind all these big rocks - Ni**as in Paris


That’s not to say he’s only stuck with brands that have given him something. Like most hip hop artists, Jay Z is attracted to anything expensive and shiny. Over the years, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing him sporting brands including Jaeger-LeCoultre, Hublot, Rolex, Richard Mille and even TW Steel.

Always eager to show off his collection, Jigga wore an Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Tourbillon Chronograph, a Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute to the 1931 Reverso in rose gold and a Rolex Day-Date II, all in one night while performing at Carnegie Hall in 2012.

Despite what he’s achieved in recent years, Jay Z’s never forgotten what it was like to have nothing. Among his various philanthropic endeavours, Jay donated his limited edition Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Las Vegas Strip Tourbillon to auction at a charity event collaboration between the watchmaker and the Tony Awards. It fetched $220,000 of the $816,000 that was raised on the night.