Rap is anything but humble. Back in the golden days, Biggie swapped water for champagne when he was thirsty (see ‘Juicy’), while Diddy makes bank off his CÎROC endorsements today. Then there’s Tidal-owner Jay Z earning millions on the back of ‘Lemonade’, A.K.A. Beyoncé’s impassioned artistic response to his alleged infidelity (you’re a real keeper, Jiggaman), and Gucci Mane: the rapper who, not satisfied with his chart success, converted his dollars into dentals by gold plating every single one of his teeth. Yes, every single one of them.
It should come as no surprise, then, that hip-hop’s pomp extends beyond grills and chains to watches, with most of the game’s biggest players exhibiting a (bad) taste for haute horlogerie – what better way to remind haters that your bank account’s bulging, than a big, fat Swiss watch?
Here, we chart the biggest arm cannons from rap’s finest, and show you the less bling (and slightly less wallet-busting) alternatives.
Nicki Minaj feat. Audemars Piguet
From: Senile feat. Tyga, Nicki Minaj & Lil Wayne
“Yeah, I got an Audemars and I ain’t set the time once, and I know they say they shine but I ain’t seen ’em shine once.”
Nobody likes a show-off, Nicki, and your admittance to not even setting the time on your Audemars Piguet reeks of a lack of appreciation for this ultra-luxury Swiss marque’s wares. But, with a whopping $77 million net worth, you’ve got every right to act the financial divvy.
While AP models can easily hit the £250k mark, the new Royal Oak offers all the usual brand hallmarks at £13,000. Yes, it’s still incredibly expensive, but it is literally a fraction of the price of the majority of Audemars’ portfolio (and probably a lot more tasteful than the Female Weezy’s personal collection).
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Watch, available at The Watch Gallery, priced £13,000.
Kanye West feat. Rolex
From: All Falls Down feat. Syleena Johnson
“That’s why you always see me with at least one of my watches, Rollies and Pashas done drove me crazy.”
So crazy, in fact, that Ye once called himself a God whose sole purpose on this earth is to grace us with his awesome presence. (And to blow up on Twitter for our entertainment.)
Egomania aside, multi-award-winner Kanye has a rich history of referencing the finest in haute horlogerie in his lyrics. Like Rolex. But as much as we’re inclined to agree with his choice of wristwear, our wallets don’t stretch to the diamond-smothered beauties Yeezy favours.
So look instead to the Submariner 16613. Launched in 1993, the discontinued line is available at several pre-owned retailers at around the £4,000-5,000 mark. With a simple black dial and two-tone design, it’s an all-time classic.
Rolex Submariner Watch, available at Watch Finder, priced £4,895.
Rick Ross feat. Patek Philippe
From: Mafia Music III feat. Sizzla and Mavado
“My new crib in Phoenix, 10 car garage, Patek Philippe, platinum Audemars.”
Watches: the only thing that surpasses Rick Ross’ appetite for ‘hoes’. While a fleeting nod to Audemars Piguet is obviously en vogue in rap right now (see Nicki, above), Rozay’s repping Patek Philippe belies a connoisseurship that’s a cut above – a classic move from a man that once wore a chain of himself wearing a chain of himself.
As one of the most respected watch brands out there, some of Patek’s rarer models can fetch millions at Sotheby’s, making it the daddy of all Swiss watchmakers. Less eye-poppingly priced, however, is its Calatrava model.
More affordable and, thankfully, one of the brand’s more traditional options, for just shy of £7,000 you’ll get one with a yellow-gold bezel, a classically sharp design and a luxe black alligator strap. (Best start hustlin’.)
Patek Philippe Calatrava Watch, available at Watch Finder, priced £6,950.
Jay Z feat. Hublot
From: Kanye West & Jay Z – Otis
“New watch alert, Hublots, or the big face Rollie, I got two of those.”
Jay Z is an ardent fan of Hublot, having mentioned the not-so-traditional Swiss marque on numerous tracks to date including ‘Nickels and Dimes’ and ‘Picasso Baby’. Bold, belligerent and unapologetically big, this brand’s watches are the perfect match for a man worth $550 million and who remains unflappable amid rumours of him bedding ‘Becky with the good hair’.
They might even be a match for you, too; if you’ve got around £5,000 to spare, you can pick up Hublot’s Classic Fusion Automatic. You won’t get any diamonds or limited edition motifs (most of them are foul anyway, trust us) at this price, but there’s plenty of clean, classic designs with titanium cases and black alligator straps.
Hublot Classic Fusion Automatic Watch, available at Watches Of Switzerland, priced £5,000.
Pharrell feat. Richard Mille
From: Can I Have It Like That feat. Gwen Stefani
“She knows the time, she sees the Richard Mille, flat double skeletal tourbillon.”
Mentions of Richard Mille and tourbillons (for non-watch enthusiasts, basically an extremely complicated and expensive timepiece) suggest Pharrell knows his stuff when it comes to watches – or at least has a very well-informed clique advising him. The rapper/producer/stylist/artist/plumber/candlestick-maker is known for the individuality of his style among the fashion ranks, and name-dropping a lesser-known marque like Richard Mille proves his choice of wristwear is just as unique.
Founded in 1999, Mille is relatively young in watchmaking terms and as such, leads the way with modern designs that sometimes border on the peculiar. Mille’s Pharrell-level tourbillons cost hundreds of thousands, but less complicated models – like the Marcus – are available at just under £1,500.
Granted, the elongated dial and abstract numerals won’t be for everyone, but as Skateboard P would probably argue, that’s the point.
Richard Mille Marcus Watch, available at Chrono24, priced £1,575.
Snoop Dogg feat. Rolex (Again)
From: Drop It Like It’s Hot feat. Pharrell Williams
“I got the Rollie on my arm and I’m pouring Chandon and I roll the best weed ‘cos I got it going on.”
Snoop Dogg purportedly spends a lot of his time getting blazed. But he’s no waster; in fact, he’s a bona fide businessman, with commercial interests in Eaze, a California-based weed delivery service that drops off your gear in less than 10 minutes, and porn – how could we ever forget that critically acclaimed family favourite, Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle?
It’s this same business acumen that informs Snoop’s choice of wristwear. Especially if the ‘Rollie’ he mentions here was a Daytona. As one of the very few watches that’s very likely to appreciate, the latest Daytona is fast becoming a collector’s item, with waiting lists longer than your arm.
A pre-owned model clocks in at just under £8,000, which is a pretty good price for one of the most coveted chronographs out there.
Rolex Daytona Watch, available at The Watch Gallery, priced £7,950.
Birdman feat. Chopard
From: This Video Of Birdman Flashing His $1.5m Watch
“This might be the best piece of art y’all have.”
OK, so it’s not a rap lyric per se. But we couldn’t sign-off on this list without mentioning Birdman’s diamond-encrusted Chopard. It is, quite frankly, absurd.
One of only two made by the Swiss brand (the other copped by retiring wallflower Elton John), the 18-carat juggernaut is worth at least a whopping $1.5m and features diamond encrusting throughout, as well as a free-moving dollar sign motif, again set in diamonds. Obviously.
If you’re not into wearing an invitation for armed robbery on your wrist however, Chopard’s less extravagant options are subtler affairs. Like the Classic 36mm (£3,820): undeniably traditional and packed with the leading luxury maison’s know-how, this beauty comes in 18-carat yellow gold and features a timelessly elegant dial.
Available at Chopard, priced £3,820.
Have we mistakenly missed a shout-out? And which of these rappers could you go watch-shopping with?
Have your say below.