My Three Watch Wardrobe: NBA Veteran Mr Rudy Gay

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My Three Watch Wardrobe: NBA Veteran Mr Rudy Gay

Words by Mr Chris Hall

29 September 2021

Utah Jazz power forward Mr Rudy Gay recently played his 1,000th basketball game in the NBA – a milestone he chose to mark with a new watch for his collection. “I’m not usually that kind of person, but, that day, I just felt like I should commemorate myself somehow,” says Gay. “A thousand games is a lot, and I felt it that day.”

Over his 15 years and counting at the top level of the sport, Gay isn’t alone in amassing a decent array of watches (remember the Roger Dubuis in The Last Dance?). He has learnt a few collecting lessons along the way.

“After my first year in the NBA, I got my first ‘serious’ watch, an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore. I got it from a friend of mine; he’s a little older than me and sat down and told me about the kind of watches I should get. Before that, I hadn’t really got into the mechanics of it, I was just buying flashy ones, putting after-market diamonds on them, stuff like that. Now, I have a pretty good collection – I keep it around 10 – and, at this point, if it’s not original, I’m not interested.”

Gay’s interest in watches predates his playing years, however. He credits his grandfather with instilling an appreciation of mechanical, analogue timekeeping in a digital age.

“My grandfather always made me wear a watch when I was younger. You know, it was the beginning of the digital age, and I always wanted one of those that changed the TV channel, but he made me wear a normal, regular watch. And I always did. He had a gold watch with a leather strap, I’ll never forget it – he wore it on the inside of his wrist, like a lot of older guys. He wore it every day, and when I asked him what time it was, he’d xlink:show me his watch and make me tell him.”

As an experienced collector, Gay now tries to be “strategic” in his purchases – but doesn’t always succeed. “I look at what I have and try to fill in gaps, look for what I don’t have. But I just end up buying gold watches, to be honest. Although there’s a bit of a shortage right now. My name’s on all the waiting lists.”

“This is just a classy watch, man. It’s very regal. You can wear it with a suit, you can wear it casually. It’s a very classy watch – that’s Cartier. It will keep its look. You’ll pass this on to your kid. I have had Cartiers before. I had the Santos skeleton, and it’s a fantastic brand. But with this, it’s the presence of the full gold on the wrist. It’s exactly how I felt when I bought the Rolex Day-Date; it just says ‘I’ve made it’. I’m not someone to keep this for special occasions, though. I’m that guy who’ll wear it whatever I’m doing; with sweatpants, with a suit, maybe even on the golf course. I’ll get my money’s worth. Some people have so many they leave them in the safe, but not me, I try to rotate them all. Some of my favourite watches have been my gold watches, so I wear them.”

“Man, I love skeleton watches. I just love seeing the mechanism. It adds a little bit to the watch, makes it smart and young. This Piaget surprised me because I didn’t know they had a skeleton like this; it intrigued me. I like that it’s super thin as well, I feel like that’s where a lot of watch companies are going. It’s more comfortable, and to be a skeleton and be that thin, the movements are just getting better and better. The stainless steel obviously is not too flashy, but you can still dress it up, and it’s pretty durable. It’s really smart to do it in steel – £28,000 is still a lot of money, but it makes it a lot more affordable for people. I don’t see the watch staying at this price for too long. People are going to pick this up – got to get it now.”

“I’ve always loved Panerai. It’s a bulky watch, but I’m a big guy, so it doesn’t look too bulky on me. I’m 6ft 8, sometimes 6ft 9… It depends on my shoes, or who I’m standing next to. I had a rose-gold Panerai with a leather strap. This one, though, it looks pretty tactical.

“I put this set of three together so I had something for every situation and I didn’t want too much of the same thing. I switched it up, with your gold, your stainless, your skeleton. If I was going overboard, I’d probably pick one more. I like Roger Dubuis, but I look at it and sometimes I love it and sometimes I think it’s a little too much. You have to dress accordingly with that. I know a couple of people with them, and I’ve been offered a couple, but I never pulled the trigger on one, for that reason. It’s a bit too much of a statement piece.”

Third time’s a charm