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This story first appeared in a special Watches issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Precision matters to J.J. Redick. Now in his ninth season in the NBA, the 30-year-old guard with the Los Angeles Clippers is best known for his accuracy as a shooter; last year, he drained more than 91 percent of his free throws and 39 percent of his three-point attempts, numbers that approach the best in the league. Off the court, his closet is beyond organized — clothing is arranged by brand (his favorite: Tom Ford), by color, by pattern. Redick brings the same approach to his carefully curated watch collection. On an afternoon in October, he whips out his iPhone, pulling up an itemized list of every timepiece — a few dozen of them, alphabetized by brand — that he’d someday like to own.
“Sure, it’s an obsession,” he laughs. “My outlet is expensive, but at least it’s healthy.” Redick is waxing about his watches at his home in Manhattan Beach, Calif., chosen for its proximity to LAX and the Clippers’ practice facility. His dining room offers a glistening panorama of the Pacific, and with the windows open, the room is filled with the sound of metronomic waves breaking on the beach. Also audible: a baby cooing in the next room; there, his wife, Chelsea, and infant son, Knox, born in August, lay low on a sectional.
Redick says players’ wives ask him what to buy their husbands for their birthdays
On the dining room table sits a Louis Vuitton case (an anniversary gift from Chelsea) filled with watches from IWC, Patek Philippe, and Rolex. Their owner is all lean angles, chiseled features and well-orchestrated stubble, and he can cross a room with grace. Even though he is 6-foot-4 — not a large man by NBA standards but plenty big to a mortal observer — Redick prefers timepieces with a face no bigger than a modest 42 millimeters. “I like watches that have a classic look,” he says, casting a warm glance at the IWC Portuguese Automatic on his wrist, an elegant dress watch notable for having seven days of power reserve on a single wind. “The balance of the dial on this one is just beautiful,” he says.
Although he’s been collecting for less than a decade, he has been curious about fine watches for far longer. “Growing up in the middle of nowhere in Virginia, Rolex was the only luxury brand that I’d ever heard of,” says Redick, whose parents were both potters (his middle name is Clay). “So when I got drafted [in 2006], I had to have one.” He recalls the Rolex Datejust that he got at Wempe in New York City, wincing at the regret he now has for selling that timepiece three years ago.
While many of his colleagues are conspicuous for their bling, Redick’s collection is notable for its refinement. (He presently has 14 watches). His focus is on pieces — other brands he collects are F.P. Journe and Vacheron Constantin — with a vintage feel. Opines Benjamin Clymer of watch aficionado website Hodinkee: “The thing is, he’s got really, really good taste.”
He also has a wealth of knowledge. If you talk watches with Redick, you wind up hearing about the solid 18-karat rose gold movement in his F.P. Journe Chronometre Bleu; the luminous display of the radioactive tritium on the dial of his blacked-out IWC 3705; and how he puts his black-and-blue Rolex GMT (“I honestly think it’s the best modern Rolex”) or one of his Pateks to work as he cranks out push-ups on hotel-room floors during road trips.
His collection is notable for its refinement, not its bling
This could be a pivotal year for the Duke graduate (he’s the top scorer in the history of the school’s illustrious program). After a long run in Orlando and stint in Milwaukee, Redick is enjoying the prospect of being part of a playoff team in a major market while he’s in the prime of his career. “As a competitor, this situation is exciting,” he says. He celebrated his 2013 signing with the Clippers — a four-year deal reportedly worth $27 million — by getting a white-gold Patek 5170G, a conservatively sized chronograph packing an in-house caliber from the Geneva maison.
Redick excitedly talks about how much he wants to visit the Swiss watch brands’ factories “for two or three weeks to see how it’s done.” He mentions how he’d like to sit down with Adam Levine and talk watches and tattoos. Redick has ink on his body that references Bible verses. On his chest is Joshua 1:9: Be Strong and Courageous. Going down his left torso is a Latin phrase “Tu Ne Cede Malis” Redick says it translates to, “Yield not to misfortune.”
Redick prefers timepieces with a face no bigger than a modest 42 millimeters
When asked about his dream watch, he cracks a smile. His “attainable grail” is a Patek 5970, made in extremely limited numbers from 2004 to 2011 (in platinum with a black dial), a watch that will cost more than $150,000 to obtain. That long list on his iPhone is prefaced by a quote from British designer Jeremy Hackett: “It’s better to own one item that’s beautifully made than three inferior products.”
The idea of building a thoughtful collection of watches clearly means a lot to Redick. “My parents had this great appreciation for art, and they made beautiful things with their hands,” he says, trying to explain how he got in so deep. “I like how in traditional watchmaking the way a design is written and drawn by hand, the way a mechanical wristwatch is constructed. For me, a watch is a piece of art.” Redick hopes to have a “great collection in 40 or 50 years — something I can pass on to Knox.”
He stores some of his favorite watches in Louis Vuitton’s monogrammed 8 Watch Case
As if on cue, the baby stirs. Chelsea calls out for her husband to describe the gift he got Knox on the day he arrived. Redick is reluctant; he’s clearly got a private side. But Chelsea insists. So Redick recounts how he bought his wife and son Rolexes, each with a message engraved on the back. “To Knox on the best day of my life. Love, Dad” is inscribed on his son’s watch.
“But I’m not going to give it to Knox until he’s 18,” says Redick. “So I hope he doesn’t read this.”
Redick, wearing his monochromatic F.P. Journe Chronometre Bleu, often seeks out watches from lesser-known brands: “I sometimes love knowing no one else in the room knows what I have on my wrist.” He was photographed Sept. 26 in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
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