The NBA Playoffs Were an Absolute Goldmine for Watches


There are only a handful of settings that rival  the NBA playoffs when it comes to over-the-top watch-wearing. Whether courtside or in the tunnel, you can count on serious wrist nonsense—and this year’s playoffs delivered. 

It’s an interesting time for the watch world, too, and the last two months of postseason basketball highlighted the exciting new ways the mainstream—or at least the version of “mainstream” that includes Jimmy Butler, Jack Nicholson, and anyone else who’s cool dropping $20k to be misted by LeBron James’s sweat—wears its wrist candy. The playoffs are populated by the people who can actually afford and obtain the watches the rest of us lust over.

As the finals come to a nail biting close, we’ve rounded up our favorite watch moments of the playoff season and why they matter.

Factory Is King

Quavo in his AP.

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Although there’s nothing wrong with a little extra ice, customized watches seem to be on the way out. In fact, some former ice kings have altogether sworn off “bustdowns”—a term that refers to a luxury watch that has been taken apart and then drilled and filled with diamonds or other gemstones. Take Quavo as an example: once spotted with proudly rocking aftermarket gem-set Pateks, Rollies and APs, he has publicly announced a new chapter in his collecting journey, preferring “Plain Janes.” (“It’s kind of like taking a Lambo and just taking the roof off of it and just depreciating your car,” he told us last year.) It was only right that he pulled up to game 3 of the Western Conference finals wearing a frosted white gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak chronograph—a $79,000 watch limited to 200 pieces. 

Jimmy Gets It

Speaking of limited editions—we need to talk about Jimmy Butler. For the past two years, we’ve seen the Heat star exclusively in TAG Heuer as part of an official brand ambassadorship, but his contract ended just in time for the playoffs season, allowing us to view the full breadth of his taste. And while we love Butler in his Carreras, it’s illuminating to see what’s on his wrist when freed from the limitations of a paid partnership…and what we’ve learned is that he’s got a fantastic relationship with his Rolex AD. 

In a press conference after an Eastern Conference Finals game versus the Celtics, Butler wore a yellow gold GMT Master-II set with factory diamonds and sapphires. It is unclear whether this is a limited-edition Rolex or a special order—but either would be near impossible to obtain without the gloss of celebrity or a high-powered in. It seems clear that Butler has both. Before one pre-Finals practice, he wore an “off-catalog” Rolex, specially released for high profile clients and “testimonees” (aka Rolex brand ambassadors). The piece in question was a 2023 platinum Daytona with a fully diamond paved dial and ice blue subdials.

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The NBA Playoffs Were an Absolute Goldmine for Watches

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