Hip hop’s relationship with the wristwatch is tumultuous. The most successful rappers have always given younger fans brand names to aspire to and, in turn, young hip hop fans have kept watch bootleggers in business. As the wildly popular Fakewatchbusta Instagram account shows us, poor wristwear choices aren’t simply a matter of means, or lack thereof. It’s one of taste and availability. So what are we to do when we’re ready to buy a nice <strong>replica watch</strong> but don’t know anyone else who owns one? Starting today, we can do what every true hip hop fan has done at some point over past three decades. We listen to Nas.
The legendary MC and beacon of hip hop style has partnered with private watch dealer Steven Brown to launch Ownly One, a website that will offer for sale just one classic replica watches a day in limited numbers, both used and deadstock. The site will have pieces from heavyweight watchmakers like of Fake Rolex, Cartier, AP, Breitling and more, with replica watch conditions rated on a Scale of 1-10, a “3” being the lowest level available on the site (“Acceptable. May require some repair before use”), and a perfect “10” for new wristwear. But is it Nasty Nas who’s doling out the ratings? Well, no, but the guy knows a thing or two about swiss replica watches. This is the man who’s sported a different Rolex on countless magazine covers and the person for whom Hublot once threw a birthday party. To celebrate the launch of Ownly One, Nas got on the phone with GQ.com to talk about his days of sharing watches with the crew, his excitement for the Apple Replica Watch and a personal goal of wearing a new watch everyday.
How did you come to get involved with Ownly One?
I feel like I’m a walking commercial, and when I wear a watch, the world sees it. I can’t tell you how many times people bought certain watches I would wear and would tell me about it: “Yo, I got this cause I saw you with it.” And I’m drawn to the history of fake watches and the business of watches, automatically.
In hip hop, swiss watches are considered jewelry exclusively. Has your perspective on watches changed over the years?
I look at it the way I looked at it when I was younger. They’re fun, they’re great, but also now there’s more sophistication to it, like keeping your watch together, not losing it, taking care of it as something that could last forever.
When was it that you were able to distinguish a watch of quality from just a watch that had a lot of ice in it?
Watches with a lot of ice came into my life a lot later after my love for replica watches, you know? The iced out part is an added on thing from your chain. Some people wore earrings even but I preferred like a pinkie ring. Later on, when I got my pinkie ring and my chain I felt like it was only right to add diamonds to [my watch]. But even in the ’70s, the ’60s, the watches were iced out. A lot of people in hip hop think it started with hip hop… Nah.
Coming up was there ever a point where you borrowed someone else’s watch to front like it was yours?
Oh, for sure. The first person I saw up close and personal with the gold Rolex—no diamonds, just a classic Presidential—who I knew, who was close to my age was a guy named Jason who we called Black Jay. I rap about him on my last album in a song called “You Wouldn’t Understand.” I speak of how he had this watch, I think he’d tell me it cost him seventeen five ($17,500) or something like that, and we were in the projects so that was far out shit! So we went and hung out at the Apollo Theater amateur night and I remember being proud to hang out with somebody who had a super grown up’s watch on. We [both] walked with more maturity and confidence, even though I didn’t have one on my arm, he did.
Later on, Steve Stoute, who was my manager back then, I remember telling him that he should get one—I couldn’t get one at that moment in time but I remember saying someone in the crew has to have one! He knew it as well, automatically. He knew he needed a grown man’s watch. We wanted to be taken seriously in this business. Again, this is before everybody was icing them out, it was just about having a great watch. So Steve had his and I remember borrowing his, for sure.
The uglier side of luxury and luxury items for rappers is that it makes them targets for robbery. Coming up, do remember being cognizant of that?
Yeah, yeah, but that was the whole point of wearing your jewelry, it was a statement. It was a statement to say, “Only a chosen few of us could wear our jewelry.” But it was rappers who would get robbed, athletes who would get robbed—but it was a great feeling for me to wear the biggest chain in the industry at the time, which was my QB medallion, so it was a big thing, it was a great exhilarating feeling to be in places like The Tunnel with all my jewelry on. I felt like that’s what hip hop was all about for me.
One of the selling points of Ownly One is that you’re getting exactly what you paid for. As someone who didn’t come from money or was developing new relationships with salespeople in these arenas, were you ever weary of making these kind of bigger ticket purchases?
Oh for sure, a lot of the jewelry dealers are ghetto-minded. And they can’t remove themselves from operating from a ghetto business standpoint, so things happen like that. And you have to know what you’re asking for and what you’re doing. I partnered with Steven Brown because he’s one of the largest watch dealers in the country and he has a large network to source out some of the most illest timepieces that exist. I have to work with experts, there’s no ghetto business over here.
The latest thing in the news cycle is the Apple Replica Watch, do you think you’ll pick one up?
For sure, I think there’s a gold one that I want.
Is it the technology that appeals to you?
Half and half. I’m still learning, but all the things that that watch can do is the next stage in technological advancement and life. Just with the flick of your wrist you can do most of the things you can do on your phone, that’s what we been looking forward to for the past few decades. There’s been rumors and stuff for years and this is the first time that we’re seeing it in our lifetime and I’m excited about it.
The watches you’d find on Ownly One, who are they for?
They’re for guys like myself who are curious about the watch game. Everybody sees hip hop artists wearing icey chains and stuff and that’s cool, but when you want to walk around day to day, you not wearing an icey watch to your job or to the bar or to your son’s birthday party or your son’s basketball game. You’re not going out like it’s a flashy night if it’s a calm, regular day. People want a watch that will represent them when they step out to dinner with their wife or girlfriend or that lady who likes a good timepiece. This is for that person.
Why is it that you guys chose a vintage Rolex to give away?
A Rolex, that’s a watch many people may want in life but never, ever get and I just felt like, What’s better than to bless somebody with a vintage Replica Rolex? It’s classy to me.
Do you think anything will ever go on to top the prestige of a Replica Rolex?
In time. But no time soon.
What goes into choosing the copy watches that you wear?
There’s so many days in your life but there’s not enough watches to accompany you throughout your life if you want to change them up every day. But that’s the thing that keeps you pushing because if you have a friend that wants to invite you to Cannes, and your finances allow you to take a trip to the watch store and buy yourself a watch to wear on a yacht—or if you’re just an average guy working a 9-5 but you want a cool watch and want to save up for one that’ll last you a lifetime, you get a breitling replica watch that you could wear to every function. So someone like me is in the middle of those two guys.
I was just given a nice watch from my friend Steve Stoute—I don’t have to borrow watches from him like I did in the 90’s—he gave me a vintage Fake Rolex for my last birthday with my kid’s initials on the back of it. The band is animal skin and it’s really nice and it goes well with suits. So it depends on your day, if you’re just going to hang out and have drinks, whatever you feel like. A watch lover wants a watch that goes with that day.