Watches Michael Jordan Wears
Whether or not His Airness, Michael Jordan was the greatest NBA player of all time is a question to be answered by braver men than me. But there are several other metrics regarding his astonishing sporting career where there is no doubt.
He is certainly the most famous player the world has ever seen, his name and brand recognized globally whether basketball is your sport or not. He can also be called the most dominant, with a record-breaking career average of 30.1 points per game and 10 scoring titles (another record). On top of that, over his near 20-years at the top he racked up six NBA championships, was six times NBA finals MVP, five times NBA MVP, 14-times NBA All-Star and his number 23 jersey was retired twice, for both the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.
Since retiring for the second time in 2003, he has also racked up another first. In 2014, Jordan joined the three comma club, becoming the first ever athlete billionaire. Between the soaring value of his own NBA team, the Charlotte Hornets (in which he holds a 97% stake) and Nike’s Jordan brand, he has an estimated net worth of around $2.1 billion.
So how do you spend that kind of money? Well, alongside an extensive property portfolio, car dealerships and his own private jet—a Gulfstream G-IV with the reg. N236MJ—he has also opened two medical clinics in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. On top of that, he has built his own private golf course, the only logical step to take when you become frustrated at the slow pace of play at your previous club.
But of most interest to us is his hoard of truly astonishing watches, a collection that is broad, varied and often surprising.
Below we pick out a few of our favorites.
Richard Mille RM 032 Diver Flyback Chronograph
Weighing in at 50mm, it takes a larger than life figure to do the RM 032 justice. And with a price tag just south of $150,000, it helps if that person has a larger than life bank account to back them up.
Fortunately, Jordan has both those bases covered, and the model is just one of a number of highly unusual and visually striking pieces he owns.
A new and fairly extraordinary take on the dive watch concept, the piece contains several unique features.
The crown incorporates a locking system that prevents both it and the chronograph push pieces from being accidentally operated with one simple twist of the securing ring.
Similarly, the enormous, three-layered, engraved bezel can only be rotated by pushing two buttons simultaneously, located at the top and bottom, to prevent it being knocked on a dive (although, if you’re taking a $150,000 watch diving, chances are you’ll be especially careful with it anyway).
It may not be the most legible watch in the world, thanks to its skeletonized dial and handset, but it is one that displays plenty of information, if you know where to look. The flyback chronograph uses a sweep central hand for the elapsed minutes rather than the more common subdial, and instead of a running seconds counter, there is a running indicator (or Indicteur de Marche) at the three o’clock with a 2-rpm rotational frequency to allow the wearer to check the watch is still going—as stipulated by ISO 6425 for all dive watches.
There is an oversized date display at the 12 o’clock and, hidden away between the four and five in an exhibition of false modesty, is the month. It doesn’t shout about it in the least, but the RM 032 is also an annual calendar along with everything else it does.
All is controlled by Richard Mille’s own manually-winding Caliber RMAC2, its baseplate and bridges made up of grade 5 titanium with black PVD coating, and its variable geometry rotor crafted from both titanium and 18k white gold, mounted on ceramic ball bearings.
The watch itself is available in either white gold, titanium or, Jordan’s choice, rose gold. All three sit on a high quality rubber strap.
Probably even less likely to see the underwater world than most luxury dive watches, the RM 032 is all about statement and panache. An amazing piece for lovers of the unconventional.
Ulysse Nardin Royal Blue Tourbillon
To have even heard of Swiss maison Ulysse Nardin, let alone own one of their pieces, displays a deeper than average knowledge of horology.
Originally making their name as the creator of ultra accurate marine chronometers between the end of the 19th and middle of the 20th century, these days they are one of the go-to brands for the extremely well-heeled in the need of dropping enormous amounts of cash on some new wrist attire.
To demonstrate, the Royal Blue Tourbillon belonging to Michael Jordan, a 43mm piece cast in 950 platinum and awash in a sea of baguette-cut diamonds and sapphires, will have set him back around $1,100,000.
For that, he received a watch that is unavoidably glitzy and grandstanding, but which still manages the subtle trick of being tasteful as well.
The coloring is flawless, with immaculate gems covering every inch of the case, bezel and bracelet. The visible main plate and bridges are crafted from sapphire to leave the dial with a stunning blue wash and to hold the tourbillon cage, giving it the impression of being suspended in mid air.
Up front, the skeletonized, bubble-shaped hands are surprisingly easy to read despite their daintiness, and are forged from white gold.
While the piece is available with a range of leather straps, Jordan’s is the top of the range, finished off with a platinum bracelet similarly overflowing with precious stones. All told, there are 568 diamonds, with a total weight of 33.8ct, as well as 234 royal blue sapphires, equaling around 16.79ct.
The movement is Ulysse’s own UN-79 manually-winding caliber, an 18,000vph, 36 jewel mechanism with a 100-hour reserve.
Even for someone with the sort of resources behind them as Michael Jordan, this is not an everyday watch, and it is one of his collection with which he is seen only rarely. But it is a fitting accessory for the great showman.
Rolex…and Rolex and Rolex
As you might imagine, Jordan’s collection contains a Rolex or two. In fact, while it is unclear just how much of the crown’s handiwork he owns, it tends to be the brand with which he is most pictured.
He has certainly been found courtside on several occasions wearing his steel and white gold Sky-Dweller with black dial, the 42mm model Rolex’s most recent release and their first and only annual calendar. Alternatively, he is also a fan of the beautiful platinum Daytona, with its chocolate brown Cerachrom bezel and ice blue dial—a color reserved only for the top of the line offerings from the manufacture.
There are several variations on the GMT-Master in his haul as well, including a 2013 yellow gold ref. 116718, the 50th anniversary edition of the legendary traveler’s watch, complete with Rolex signature green dial. Elsewhere, he has been seen with the heavily bejeweled ref. 116758-SANR, another yellow gold example with bezel and lugs caked in diamonds and sapphires.
Compared with the others in his extensive assortment of haute horlogerie masterpieces, Jordan’s selection of Rolex watches are actually the most toned down and workaday. Their rugged construction, even the more showy SANR, coupled with the timeless elegance of their design, make them the ideal choice for someone as active and in the public eye as the star still is.
It just goes to show that the brand can cover the entire spectrum, appealing to the good and the GOAT from all walks of life.
That is just a glimpse at the huge range of watches in Jordan’s arsenal. We didn’t even have room to cover stunning pieces from the likes of IWC (there are several of the Big Pilot series in his stockpile), Panerai, A. Lange & Söhne, Roger Dubuis (he owns the dazzling Excalibur Spider Pirelli, with its strap made from F1 car tires), as well as several models from avant-garde convention-destroyers Urwerk. Over the years, he has worn their UR-103, UR-202 and UR-202s, all modern classics with the trademark rotating satellite hour markers.
It all adds up to a man with both exceptional taste in timepieces of any genre, along with very deep pockets. A legendary collection for a legendary sportsman.
— Featured Photo Credit: Wikimedia (cc) & Michael Jordan’s Official Instagram.