Anyone who follows John Mayer on Instagram is accustomed to seeing watches on his feed. Typically, they are very nice, very exclusive watches: Rolex “Rainbow” Daytonas, the new Audemars Piguet Royal Oak with gems set in a design that mimics an equalizer, one of Patek Philippe’s impossible-to-find sport watches. But he shared an unexpected message on Wednesday.
“Did Apple just make….a tactical watch?” he wrote. “Been wearing the Apple Watch Ultra for a week…”—build that suspense, John!—”and it’s great.” This news probably registered as a sizable earthquake in Geneva. Because Mayer is not just any well-heeled and avid collector, he is likely the watch world’s most prominent tastemaker. When he wears a green-and-gold Rolex Daytona, the value shoots up in price and is now known as “the John Mayer.” Spotting a certain Royal Oak on his wrist can inspire dealers to go out and snap up a couple dozen of that exact piece. Certainly, Mayer’s co-sign won’t have that sort of effect on the Apple Watch, which is already bought up in higher quantities than what the entire Swiss watch industry is moving combined. But given the Apple Watch’s unique place in the watch universe—worn by nearly everyone, but nobody’s idea of collector bait—Mayer’s endorsement is a huge deal.
As Mayer himself admits, he’s not typically one to succumb to the particular charms of a smartwatch. “The first Apple Watch that excited me as a mechanical watch collector,” he wrote over a photo of him wearing the Ultra. But considering the way Mayer talks about and approaches watches, it felt like only a matter of time before he opened his heart to a smartwatch.
Once upon a time, while discussing his watches with Hodinkee, he compared his Rolex’s GMT function (which keeps track of a second time zone) to an app on a phone. And if you like your watches equipped with apps, this Ultra delivers in spades. Mayer calls out a few of his favorites on Instagram: GPS tracking, a depth gauge, a dive computer, a honking-loud siren for those in distress, and night mode. And there are plenty more, like a super-accurate compass, a water-temp sensor, and a car-crash detector. “This is a camping/hunting/outdoors adventure powerhouse,” Mayer wrote of the piece. Part of the wristwatch’s original appeal was that different models were essentially tools built for specific purposes. The Apple Watch Ultra is a tool watch built for the 21st century.
The second reason Mayer was bound to eventually fall in love with an Apple Watch is because he never turns his nose up at a timepiece. Yes, he owns many, many luxury pieces, but he’s proven just as likely to fall in love with a G-Shock or Casio as he is a Rolex or Audemars Piguet. I’d go as far as to argue that randomly announcing that he actually likes the new Apple Watch is exactly why we love Mayer as a collector. He’s constantly zagging and following his own tastes (and those tastes often become the taste of the masses). “Not an #ad,” he wrote in the Instagram Story slide wrapping up his review of the Apple Watch. “I just like what I like.”