09/28/2021
 6 minutes

American Comedians and Their Watches

By Troy Barmore
021_I_Comedians_HEADER-06

One of the greatest things about collecting watches is that it brings people from all walks of life to the same table of horological enthusiasm. Watches speak to everyone in different ways, and a person’s watch choice often reflects a core aspect of their personality. It’s said that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at the watch they wear. At a time when more and more people are buying timepieces for speculative reasons, it can feel as though this charming and anachronistic hobby is getting a bit too serious. So, we thought we’d take a look at some watch enthusiasts who are renowned for lightening the mood: stand-up comedians! 

John Mulaney

First up is none other than “Kid Gorgeous” himself, John Mulaney. John rose up through the comedy ranks as a writer for “Saturday Night Live” (we have him to thank for iconic characters like Ben Hader’s “Stefon”). John has also become known for his classic, slightly formal style: He often dons sharply tailored suits in his stand-up specials. This sartorial flair extends to his choice of watches. You can regularly spot him wearing a yellow gold Frederique Constant Classics Auto Moonphase ref. 330MC4P5.  

The Geneva-based watch company Frederique Constant is owned by the Japanese Citizen Watch Group and has earned a reputation for their affordable yet highly elegant and traditional watches. By utilizing machined components and modular movements, FC is able to offer the aesthetic trappings of high-end horology for significantly less than other luxury manufacturers. The Classics Auto Moonphase is, in many ways, the epitome of classic Swiss elegance with its silver guilloché dial, tempered blue Breguet hands, and moon phase complication at 6 o’clock. 

John Mulaney wears watches from Frederique Constant, a traditional but affordable brand.

Wanda Sykes

In addition to being recognized as one of the best stand-up comedians of all time, Wanda Sykes has been a pioneer for women in the industry since the mid-1990s and an activist in the LGBTQ+ community. She first came to prominence as a writer on “The Chris Rock Show,” winning a Primetime Emmy for her work. Sykes also performed some of the most iconic stand-up specials of the late 90s for “Comedy Central Presents.” On the heels of her success, she could occasionally be seen out and about sporting a Cartier Roadster ref. W62041V3. 

A fundamental aspect of Cartier’s watchmaking history, which dates back to the first Santos made in 1904 for aviator Alberto Santos Dumont, is the utilization of unique case shapes to strike the perfect balance between versatility and elegance. The Roadster is no exception with its modified barrel-shaped (or “tonneau”) case and dramatic, overemphasized crown (a design feature that points to early 2000s opulence). While the company only produced the Roadster for approximately 10 years, it has retained its Cartier charm to this day and is as sporty and chic as ever.  

Wanda Sykes’ favorite Cartier Roadster was only produced for 10 years.
Wanda Sykes’ favorite Cartier Roadster was only produced for 10 years.

Bill Burr

With countless comedy specials on Netflix, a role in “The Mandalorian,” and a top-rated podcast under his belt, Bill Burr is undoubtedly one of the most successful stand-up comedians active today. Yet, despite all his success, Burr retains that down-to-earth, blue-collar, New Englander attitude that makes him so appealing (and potentially offensive depending on who you ask – but hey, that’s comedy). Never one to be flashy or ostentatious, Burr has occasionally been seen rocking the Breitling Superocean 44; for instance, when he visited the popular YouTube show “Hot Ones.” 

While the watch is from a prominent watch brand, the Breitling Superocean 44 is a slightly off-the-beaten-path choice as far as diving watches go. The model has roots in the late 1950s like several other seminal diving watches, including the Rolex Submariner, Omega Seamaster, and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. The Breitling Superocean still also retains some of its original utilitarian tool watch appeal. Like Burr himself, it’s a watch that won’t shy away from a tussle, a bit of grit, or a plate of hot wings! 

Bill Burr wears a Breitling Superocean 44, something of an off-the-beaten-path choice.

Dave Chappelle

A legend in the comedy world, Dave Chappelle is one of the most influential actors, writers, and stand-up comedians of the last 20 years. After rising to superstar status with the success of his eponymous show, Chappelle walked away from the show (and millions of dollars) so as to stay true to his own personal and creative needs. He returned home to Ohio to raise a family. It was a shocking move at the time, but one that has largely garnered respect from his contemporaries.  

In keeping with this individualistic and, curiously enough, Midwestern inclinations, Chappelle wore a Shinola Runwell Chronograph during his performance at Austin City Limits on Netflix. The Detroit-based company is primarily known for its watches and bicycles. While Chappelle has been seen wearing many more expensive timepieces over the years – including a Rolex Daytona 116500LN – it’s nice to think that his choice of the Shinola was intentional to further emphasize his ambivalence towards the glitz and glamor of Hollywood – that, or he just liked how it looked. 

Dave Chapelle chose a Shinola Runwell Chronograph for his performance on Netflix.
Dave Chapelle chose a Shinola Runwell Chronograph for his performance on Netflix.

Lewis Black

One of the most idiosyncratic stand-up comedians out there, Lewis Black blends elaborate wit with faux-seething rage to create a distinct comedic character. His acerbic, critical humor has made its mark everywhere from “The Daily Show” to Broadway. In keeping with his overall eccentric persona, it should come as no surprise that Lewis Black would be inclined towards lesser-known, micro-brand watch companies that are growing more numerous by the day (thankfully!). 

Hailing from Reykjavík, Iceland, JS Watch Co. is a curious little company with styles ranging from quirky and sporty to classic and demure. Assembled in Iceland with Swiss movements, JS Watch Co. describes itself as “probably the world’s smallest watch manufacturer.” However, a quick visit to their website reveals that Lewis Black is not the only celebrity to grace their workshop. Other notable names include Ben Stiller, Ed Sheeran, and Tom Cruise. 

Jerry Seinfeld

A titan of both stand-up and sitcoms, it’s fair to say that the comedy world wouldn’t be what it is today without Jerry Seinfeld. Since hanging up his sitcom hat, Seinfeld has not faded into retirement or obscurity. In addition to animated films and a new comedy special in 2020, his pet project is the wildly successful “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” where Seinfeld gets together with other industry icons, drives around in classic cars fitting the guest du jour, and, as the title suggests, gets coffee.  

While the show is an utter delight for classic car lovers, eagle-eyed watch enthusiasts will spot a myriad of interesting and distinct timepieces on the wrists of the host and guests; you could write an entire article on the watches spotted on this show! Alas, there is perhaps no better timepiece to highlight from Seinfeld’s collection than the vintage Heuer Autavia “Siffert” ref. 1163T – one of the most iconic racing chronographs of all time. Nicknamed after famous racing driver Joe Siffert, a Heuer brand ambassador of sorts in the early 1970s, the cushion-shaped chronograph features the legendary Calibre 11. 

Jerry Seinfeld wears a legendary vintage Heuer Autavia "Siffert."
Jerry Seinfeld wears a legendary vintage Heuer Autavia “Siffert.”

Ali Wong

After paying her dues like many up-and-coming writers and stand-ups, Ali Wong exploded onto the comedy scene with her Netflix specials “Baby Cobra” and “Hard Knock Wife.” In her specials, Wong fearlessly addresses a broad range of topics, ranging from race and modern society to motherhood and sexuality, and unleashes a tidal wave of laughs in the process. Apart from her razor-sharp sense of humor and spectacular taste in eyewear (her bright red Barton Perreira specs punctuate her onstage presence), Wong also wears a suitably quirky timepiece. 

Ali Wong is fearless not only in her comedy but also in her choice of watch: a digital Casio.

Wong’s digital Casio wristwatch in steel, the ref. A158WEA-9, is a classic in the Casio lineup. Its gold-colored dial brings a vintage two-tone touch to what might otherwise be another nondescript digital watch. It’s a funny choice (no pun intended) for the comedian: slightly vintage, trendy, ironic, and is available for a whopping $24.95 on Casio’s website. Wong is a force of nature on stage, and the combination of vibrancy and no-BS realism evident in her comedy is reflected in this fun, down-to-earth timepiece. Watch enthusiasts take note: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to rock a cool watch. 

Read more

The Top 10 Watch Brands at The Moment

5 Great Beginner Watches Under $2,000

Watchmaker Robert Weiss on the Rolex Submariner: A Really Cool Overall Package


About the Author

Troy Barmore

I have been a watch enthusiast from a young age. My obsession began when I took a summer job for the sole purpose of buying my older brother’s Girard-Perregaux chronograph. My tastes have since expanded to include vintage tool watches and modern independent brands.

Read more

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