I love to wear the right watch on stage. Whether it’s John Mayer’s HODINKEE G-Shock, a Patek 5970, or any steel sports watch, I choose each one specifically for any given gig. Depending on the country or city or venue, it can be anything.
Over the years, I’ve gotten to know Francois [Bennahmias], the head of AP. I love his sense of humor; we seem to be on a similar wavelength. I imagine that being European and a bit off-the-wall helps. I cheekily asked him if he would make me a one-off watch for this new upcoming tour of mine, and to my surprise he said yes. He asked me for some guidance, I sent him a bunch of ideas, and one day I got back this design that was absolutely out of this world.
I’ve been obsessed with the ceramic Royal Oaks for as long as they’ve been around. My second proper watch was a Royal Oak, so I’ve been a collector of AP for a while, but never deep-dived as much as I have around the ceramics. I love the feel of them. They are so comfy, with a great weight and some amazing complications. I love how simple they seem but how many man-hours go into making them. So I asked for a one-off, and something different from the ones that were out there.
It was Francois who suggested the chronograph. I think he wanted it to be the first ceramic chronograph on the market when I got it back in December, but since then I believe a few more have come out. I was just hibernating and admiring it in private while recording my new album, but still wearing it everyday, nonetheless.
The custom elements are subtle and small, but very meaningful. At 12 o’clock is an eight-point star, to symbolize the 8th month, August, when my first daughter was born. She’s named in part after the Lyra constellation. And then the theme around my new album is a butterfly, so the seconds hand has a tiny delicate butterfly you can barely see, and there’s one visible through the caseback, too.
One of my hobbies over lockdown was watch straps, and learning how to change each brand’s straps. I find when you’ve gotten so used to a watch, you can make a completely different experience of wearing it by just changing the strap. Whether it’s the material or the color, it just gives a different flavor now and then. So I asked Francois for a few options – not just the ceramic bracelet, but also a rubber strap and a Kevlar one – so if I ever want a drastic change, it is just a few minutes away. To be honest, I love the rubber best for the stage as it doesn’t slip easily. It stays in place and is the best for sweat.
To me at this point, new watches need to mark special occasions more than anything. I collect sparsely now, maybe one a year. I want them all to mean something. I got a Patek 5711 on the day my first daughter was born, and an AP 15202 “Jumbo” on the day my second daughter was born. And now I have this one-off Royal Oak that I will wear on tour, symbolizing my family and the next four years of my life. A proper stage watch. See you somewhere down the road.
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You can follow Ed Sheeran on Instagram at @teddysphotos.
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