The Met Gala is undeniably fashion’s biggest night – but it’s also one hell of a night for watch spotting. Here are a few watches that really caught our eye.
Formally known as the Costume Institute Gala, the Met Gala is an annual fundraising event held for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. People often forget that.
The public simply knows it as the world’s most prestigious fashion event. It’s famously hard to get an invite, and everyone who’s everyone is in attendance.
The Met Gala is also known for its elaborate themes. 2023’s theme was Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty – paying tribute to the famous and eccentric German fashion designer, best known for his work with Chanel and Fendi, who passed away last year.
Lagerfeld’s idiosyncratic personal style deeply influenced the outfits of all the celebrities in attendance on Monday… As well as the watches they choose to wear for the star-studded event. It was hard picking our favourites, so we’ve narrowed it down to seven very tasty pieces.
Roger Federer’s Rolex 1908
First up we’ve got recently retired tennis superstar and consistently dapper gent Roger Federer, who made his return appearance to the Met Gala red carpet on Monday for the first time since 2017 – where you might remember he wore a rather lairy diamond-studded, cobra-patterned Gucci tuxedo.
This year, he went for a more traditional look, rocking a tux (plus shades inside, as a tribute to Karl Lagerfeld) which he complemented with a traditional-looking but completely brand-new Rolex: the new Rolex 1908 in white gold.
Introduced at Watches & Wonders Geneva earlier this year, the 1908 is Rolex’s first new model since the Sky-Dweller in 2012, and has replaced the Cellini as Rolex’s dress watch offering. Featuring a finely fluted bezel, a traditional small seconds dial layout, an alligator leather strap and an exhibition caseback (something new for Rolex), this Rollie is all class.
Retail Price: AU$32,850
Jeremy Strong’s Richard Mille RM 07-04
Actually, the RM 07-04 is a women’s watch – Richard Mille’s first dedicated women’s sports watch, in fact. Weighing only 36 grams, it definitely speaks softly and carries a big stick, horologically speaking.
Strong also wore a brooch from rapper Frank Ocean’s cult jewellery brand, Homer. Funnily enough, Frank has rapped about Richard Milles on a number of occasions. At least his bars are better than Kendall Roy’s…
Retail Price: AU$277,400
James McAvoy’s Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph
The ever-affable Scotsman James McAvoy nailed the brief this Met Gala, really channelling Lagerfeld with his wing collar, fat black tie and whimsical hand fan. We were more impressed by his watch, however, with the X-Men star wearing the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph in rose gold on the big night.
From the obverse side, this stylish piece looks like a normal Reverso Tribute, which is to say very nice: baton hour markers, Dauphine hands and a peripheral chemin de fer minutes track, combined with a sunray dial. But it hides a secret. Flip it over and you’ll find a dedicated chronograph side with an eye-catching, high-tech skeletonised dial.
The Reverso Chrono typically comes mounted on one of two different Casa Fagliano straps, but it seems McAvoy has opted for a more conventional alligator leather strap. We’re not complaining, though.
Retail Price: AU$61,000
Simu Liu’s Vacheron Constantin Overseas
Simu Liu also understood the assignment, flaunting a very Lagerfeld-esque Versace tuxedo with a thick tie, necklace, brooch and alligator leather gloves.
The actor, who plays Shang-Chi in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, kept things somewhat more understated with his watch choice, going for a classic Vacheron Constantin Overseas with a black dial and an alligator leather strap. You simply can’t go wrong with an Overseas.
Indeed, the Overseas is fast becoming a must-have watch for celebrities, with everyone from athletes like Steph Curry and Erling Haaland to musicians like The Weeknd and Dave or fellow Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise and Daniel Kaluuya all adding the famous integrated bracelet luxury sports watch to their collections.
Retail Price: AU$35,500
Rami Malek’s Cartier Tank Louis Cartier
Rami Malek’s outfit might have been a bit of a flop but at least his watch was nice. Donning a collarless shirt and white waistcoat, sans jacket, we weren’t fans of Rami’s look… But we are fans of his stylish Cartier Tank Louis Cartier.
Modelled after the very Tank model that Louis Cartier – heir to the Cartier empire and grandson of Cartier founder Louis-François Cartier – wore in the 1920s, this classic Art Deco take on the Tank formula features a yellow gold case, a jet-black, featureless dial and a hand-wound mechanical movement.
Retail Price: AU$20,500
Nick Jonas’ Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
Karl Lagerfeld arguably kicked off today’s black watch craze back in the 70s with his aftermarket PVD-coated black Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, which was a radical look at the time. He was rarely seen without his AP – so we’re surprised we didn’t see more Royal Oaks on the Met Gala red carpet. Thankfully, Nick Jonas did his research and rose to the occasion.
The Jonas Brother and noted watch fan actually wore a stainless steel Royal Oak Chronograph for the photo call – but at the Met Gala afterparty, he swapped his stainless steel chrono for a black ceramic Royal Oak Chronograph. Not quite the same as Lagerfeld’s, but still – nicely played.
Jonas also wore a very Lagerfeld-esque outfit to the Met Gala, hitting all the right notes with his leather blazer and his black skinny tie embellished with a snake-shaped brooch.
Retail Price: AU$54,500
Eileen Gu’s IWC Schaffhausen Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” Pocket Watch
The biggest surprise of the 2023 Met Gala when it comes to watches was the unusual IWC Schaffhausen piece that Chinese-American Olympic skier Eileen Gu decided to accessorise with: a yellow gold Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” pocket watch that she nonchalantly dangled in front of the world’s cameras.
Released in 2018, this pocket watch is actually a homage to IWC’s ‘Pallweber’ pocket watch of 1884; an innovative design that showed the hours and minutes in digital format with large numerals on rotating discs. IWC celebrated that watch’s 150th anniversary with this limited edition modern pocket watch.
It was certainly a statement to walk around just swinging a pocket watch – we reckon Lagerfeld would have approved. Gu also wore a pink gold IWC Portofino with a diamond-studded bezel on her wrist as well… We love a double flex.
Retail Price: AU$142,000