Lucero, on the other hand, considers UN’s pieces to be more like art, referring to watches with miniature paintings on the dial that depict a naked mermaid and a land-walker hooking up, and a watch with an automaton—a mechanical device that follows a set sequence of movements—feature that makes one pair of lovers thrust and the other, peeping from behind a curtain, give their partner a hand. (The watch uses a minute repeater function that chimes out the time audibly in a series of what are technically described as “dings” and—you can’t make this stuff up—”dongs.” So, as this video illustrates, the time 11:59 would be chimed out as “10 dongs, 3 ding-dongs and 14 dings”.)
After a heroic turn as a post-crisis savior decades ago, these watches are once again coming out of whatever dark rooms they were hiding in. Drake is the obvious starting point: the $750,000 Richard Mille RM 69 he wore to an NBA playoffs game in 2019 put these erotic timepieces back on the map. The watch’s straight-to-the-chase nature is the point for Richard Mille: the RM 69 serves as a rebuke of those chaste-seeming erotic watches, the ones that hid their true nature on casebacks or behind secret covers. “On the RM 69…love and eroticism proclaim themselves proudly and clearly in words,” the brand’s website reads.
Drake isn’t a one-off. Travis Scott also procured and started wearing an RM 69 earlier this year. Not to be outdone, Jacob & Co. also has its own erotic pieces: the Caligula and the Rasputin, the model McGregor owns. Both conceal a NSFW scene behind a window that slides out of the way. Jacob & Co. intends to strike, with some watches boasting unhidden scenes out front, and others concealing what they’re really about. “It’s the best of both worlds,” a representative for Jacob & Co. tells me. “You have a high-complication timepiece that is extraordinarily gem-set, and you can see the erotic automaton whenever you want, on demand, so it is discreet enough to be worn daily,” they say of the watch completely covered in 178 diamonds with a slide pusher that reveals what is, basically, pornography.
It doesn’t seem out of bounds to suggest that erotic watches are set for an even bolder public profile. After a year lost the pandemic, brands like Suit Supply, Jacquemus, Diesel, and others have made sex the center point of their new campaigns. If sex is back in fashion, why wouldn’t the same apply for watches?
Despite the advent of magazines and the internet, the purpose of these horny watches hasn’t changed much over time. For Lucero, his most recent sale of an erotic watch went to a client in Florida who “uses it very much as a conversational piece,” he says. He’ll take it out and show off how it works and the pictures behind it. “It’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s different,” Lucero adds. Apparently what qualified for a decent party trick centuries ago still counts for a good time in 2021. It turns out that men, no matter the time period, really do only want one thing.