Watches for the Kings of Bling

Since the mid 1980’s Hip-Hop has grown from its roots in the US sub-culture and exploded onto the world scene. It has influenced fashion trends in almost every major corner of the world, and opened a new market for high-end timepieces at the same time.

For those who share a fascination and love for the Hip-Hop culture,  Universal movie featuring one of the original groups from the rise of the genre in the mid 1980’s – N.W.A. was released last August 2015.

Straight Outta Compton documents the rise and fall of the group, and tells the gritty story of how these youngsters revolutionized music and pop culture, their life in ‘the hood’, and the cultural war that goes along with it.

Besides boldly speaking out on the drugs and violence in their society, Hip-Hop is known for something more refined too – the love of high-end watchmaking. This is something near to my heart too.

Audemars Piguet is a brand that has more than one fan amongst the super-rich, flashy kings of bling.

Jay-Z, (and quite a few other Hip Hop stars like Chris Brown and Lil Wayne), mention the brand’s name on a number of their tracks. Rick Ross even named a mixtape after them, and Swizz Beatz designed a number of AP watches

Swizz Beatz is a hip hop superstar, chart-topping producer, composer, painter, record executive and philanthropist. Besides all of those things, he is also a collector of fine watches, and his collection includes examples from Audemars, Richard Mille, IWC, Hublot and many more.

He describes his obsession: “For me it’s the art of the mechanical movements inside these watches, which I would say is no different than a masterpiece painting on a wall, except it’s encapsulated inside the watch and you’re seeing it through the crystal back.”


Another artist from the genre who is well known for his love of watches is Usher.

The image shows a watch that he had made by Tiret, a New York based jeweler and watchmaker. Usher as always, demonstrates his love for the jewel encrusted style, and the watch contains 1106 colored diamonds forming a picture of his face. It is powered by two ETA quartz movements, and comes with a pricetag of around US$250,000.

Urban streetwear, and hip hop fashion lives or dies depending on the choices of these popular icons. When Snoop Doggy Dogg wore a Hilfiger sweatshirt during an appearance on Saturday Night Live, it sold out of New York City stores the next day. A similar thing is happening to the watch industry, though of course it is mitigated by the exclusiveness of the price range.

Over the decades the fashion preferences of top Hip Hop artists has moved away from gold and Rolex towards Platinum and silver, and brands such as Hublot and Panerai. With their huge fanbase and influence, they have started and ended trends in the high-end world of watches, and opened a new market to many brands.

To quote a line from the Jay-Z  track “Off That” from 2009’s The Blueprint 3,

““I’m so tomorrow my Audemars says yesterday”

Another favorite with names like Kanye West and Eminem is Casio. Shown here is Kanye West’s limited edition G-shock all in white, and another model on the wrist of the famous rapper from the same era.

Whatever your preferences are in terms of culture, music and fashion, there’s no denying the worldwide impact that Hip Hop has made. It’s loud, uncompromising, different, and still evolving every day.

Together with streetwear, chunky chains, rings, throwback jerseys, baggy pants and grills, high-end luxury watches find a place among all the bling, and speak a new language to a new generation.

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