Welcome to Watches of the Week, where we’ll track the rarest, wildest, and most covetable watches spotted on celebrities.
Remembrances of the late designer Virgil Abloh, who died last week at 41, have largely focused on the things he made. Which makes plenty of sense: Abloh was among the most purely generative designers in fashion history, seemingly ripping off a new collab or collection, with Louis Vuitton or Off-White or Nike or a museum, every few days. But the story of Virgil Abloh is not complete without the story of the things he owned—he was, to the end, a fan, and a collector. And the story of Virgil-the-collector finds maybe its most interesting chapter in his blistering selection of watches.
So this week, we’re devoting our Watches of the Week column to Abloh and his watches. In characteristic fashion, he turned a sometimes-staid category into the province of surprise, delight, and serious covetability.
The Blacked-Out Patek Philippe Nautilus
Abloh’s collection begins and ends with Patek, and especially with the brand’s flagship Nautilus. He owned a couple stock pieces (see below), but Virgil being Virgil, the definitive Nautilus in his collection has rather little in common with the one you might find at a Patek Philippe boutique. This piece was most likely made in collaboration with the mad hatters at MAD Paris. (“I can neither confirm or deny we made it for him,” the brand’s founder told GQ’s Cam Wolf, following that with four smiling emojis.) Whoever made it, they coated the roughly $45,000 watch in carbon (for the black) and threw a pair of Abloh’s signature quotation marks around the logo. (Abloh also seemed to commission the brand for a similar treatment, this time in blinding white, on his Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.)
The All-Gold Patek
Sometimes a slightly simpler approach was called for. But every time you thought you had Abloh pegged, he’d swerve: if this watch convinced you he was strictly into monochrome Nautiluses, this contrasting-face black-and-gold ref. 3700 would suggest otherwise.
The Jacob & Co. Caviar Flying Tourbillon
For all Abloh’s high-fashion bona fides, he understood better than most the industry’s deep, but too often unacknowledged, connection to hip hop. And what better way to flex that knowledge than with a series of collabs with legendary hip hop jewler Jacob Arabo? Jacob & Co. came to prominence in the bling era, worn by the likes of Diddy and Jay-Z—and was eventually rediscovered by the likes of Drake and A$AP Rocky. And Abloh, with a deep appreciation for both of those generations of rap, knew exactly what to do with Jacob: this piece is set with more than 400 rubies.
The Blacked-Out Jacob
The “Five Time Zone” might be the iconic Jacob & Co. watch. Leave it to Abloh to hit it with his preferred black-on-black treatment.
Drake’s Virgil’d Nautilus
As wild as Abloh’s own collection is, he might be most notorious in watch world for a piece he made for Drake: this is the piece about which Drizzy rapped, “Virgil got that Patek on my wrist goin’ nuts.” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.