Friday 20 September 2019

Adam Clayton takes time to show off exquisite wristwatch collection

TIME ON HIS HANDS: US bassist Adam Clayton revels in his collection of rare and luxury wristwatches. Picture: Getty
TIME ON HIS HANDS: US bassist Adam Clayton revels in his collection of rare and luxury wristwatches. Picture: Getty
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

He is best-known as bassist for the biggest band in the world but Adam Clayton enjoys another passion in his down-time.

The 58-year-old U2 star has lifted the lid on his prized collection of luxury wristwatches, dominated by iconic brands including Jaeger-LeCoultre and Patek Philippe.

In the first of a new video series, GQ Talks Watches, with Charlie Burton, Clayton talks with great passion about his timepiece treasure trove, a collection he began on the Achtung Baby tour.

Walking through Berlin in the 1990s, he recalls: "It was very, very grim and it was a city in transition and I just stumbled upon a watch shop." It was there he treated himself to a 1950s Omega Cioccolatino (little chocolate) watch in yellow gold.

Attracted by the sound of the watch, he explains: "This has a 'bumper movement'. Rolex had kind of patented, the rolling automatic movement, so Omega came up with this other system and you can sort of hear that rattle... it's a lovely little thing and a great watch to start off with."

Asked how, with his notable spending power, he manages to keep his impulse under control, he says: "I definitely do have that itch and it starts to heat up a bit when people start to throw words like 'tourbillon' around and I am going, 'hmmm, that sounds interesting'," referring to a special watch mechanism that is said to be hugely difficult and costly to make.

On treating himself to a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Squadra Chronograph, he says: "This was really before I went to the tour where we had that big claw on the 360 [tour] because everything got kind of quite big, I wanted a watch that I could take on the road that was worthy of that engineering and technology."

But he never mixes his business with pleasure, preferring to go bare-wristed when performing: "I generally avoid wearing watches on stage. I kind of feel that's the last place you need to know what time it is."

Instead, he prefers to rotate his favourites between gigs: "I take one or two [on tour]. My wife gave me a Nautilus when we got married, I also take a Moser, which again is a sporty, big, kind of watch and I normally have a gold watch that I wear in the evenings if I go out to something. It's hard to wear gold during the day."

On his other gems, he describes his Patek Philippe Annual Calender in white gold as a "little present" to himself "because I thought I was going to be home for a while" after the 360 tour.

"I always looked at Patek Philippe and I thought, you know, 'it's too delicate, it's for bankers and you can't wear that with a leather jacket' and then they brought out this model and it was their version of the sports watch and I just thought with this particular face, it was the type of thing that you can wear with a leather jacket, it looks fine and yet you can wear it in the evening as well."

He believes his H Moser & Cie Venturer XL Stoletniy Krasniy is the rare gem in his collection.

Introduced to the brand by "a friend of a friend", he says: "They made 17 of this - this [particular model] actually may be even more unique than the [other] 17 because in the back, the bridge of this watch, it is red and I don't think that's common in all of the 17."

Clayton isn't the only celebrity to open up about his penchant for luxury wristwear. Eric Clapton is a famous watch connoisseur and once had a Patek Philippe Ref 2499 in platinum, a model that has only ever been produced twice. In 2012, it raised nearly £2.5m (€2.82m) at a charity auction.

Rapper Jay-Z is said to own a Hublot Classique, a Richard Mille RM027 Tourbillon, and a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931. Other enthusiasts include Brad Pitt and Seal.

You can watch the full video with Adam Clayton here:

Sunday Independent

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