There are accounts on Instagram that do nothing but showing famous people wearing specific watches. Steve McQueen wearing a Rolex Submariner 5512, Tom Selleck with his GMT-Master 1675, Joe Biden wearing an Omega Speedmaster Professional, Jacky Kennedy with her Cartier. In this article, I will share my personal heroes and their watches.

It is an interesting phenomenon that people actually care what watches famous people are wearing. Brands have realized this forever, of course, and even in the early days of advertisement, actors, singers, and sportspeople have been used to sell these watches. In the process, they became the first brand ambassadors.

I know I am in the minority here, but I couldn’t care less about paid ambassadors for brands. I only like it when someone genuinely has an interest in a watch or watch brand and bought it for just that reason. In this article, I will share with you some of my heroes and which watches they are wearing.

“Heroes” should be taken with a grain of salt, or two. I consider my dad to be my only hero (needless to say he has been wearing Omega since 1969, coincidentally), but you all know how the definition of “hero” is these days. Someone you look up to, or like very much, for whatever (personal) reason. Also, an interesting observation is that the older I get, the fewer heroes I seem to have on my list.

Watches of my heroes

There’s a number of people I would define being a hero. Not specifically for what they are, or what they’ve done, but mainly for their personality. Of course, I don’t know these people personally, and without their accomplishments, I would never have heard about them.

Paul McCartney Patek Philippe Aquanaut - Heroes

Image (c) by GQ Magazine

Sir Paul McCartney

My dad was (perhaps still is) a Beatles fan. Our Philips (and later Technics) turntable at home in the 1980s often had a Beatles record on there. When I got my first Walkman, one of the cassettes I had in there was a Beatles tape. Paul McCartney has always been my favorite Beatle. As a kid, I also had a tape of “All the best”, by Paul McCartney from 1987. Some solo songs were included on that cassette but also some he did with Wings. I read quite a bit on him, and to me, he seems like a genuinely nice guy. And, of course, a great singer.

A few years ago, he appeared on the Carpool Karaoke show, and that was simply amazing. I watched it many times and I recommend you at least do so once. After watching that show, I liked him even more than I did before. Anyway, Sir Paul McCartney falls in the category of my heroes, and he is often seen wearing this Patek Philippe Aquanaut on a rubber strap.

Image (c) Amsterdam Vintage Watches

Sir Paul McCartney is a vegetarian, and, he likes animals a lot, so he is very much against wearing leather straps. So the rubber strap makes perfect sense. I am also told he’s been spotted wearing simple plastic Swatch watches. The Patek Philippe Aquanaut was introduced in 1997, as a watch for a new and young(er) audience. Sir Paul McCartney wears the reference 5165A. A version of the Aquanaut that was introduced in 2007, with the caliber 324 SC movement in a 38mm diameter case. I will admit, the fact that he wears it would be a reason for me to go after an Aquanaut 5165A instead of (any) Nautilus. Yes, I am a McCartney fan.

Picture (c) NASA. Wubbo Ockels is in the center.

Wubbo Ockels

Ockels is a bit of a childhood hero to me, actually. The first Dutch astronaut we had (there was one before to be completely correct with facts, but he already had American citizenship). Ockels flew on board of the Space Shuttle in 1985, mission STS-61A, as a payload specialist. Watch enthusiasts might recognize this mission because one of the other astronauts, and good friend of Ockels, Reinhard Furrer, was also on that mission, wearing his black Sinn 140.

As a kid, I was 8 years old in 1985, I remember Ockels being in the news for weeks. It was brought up in school. We followed him on television and radio. It was BIG. Much later, in 2010, I reached out to Ockels to ask him about the watch he wore during that mission. I was quite surprised he responded and with a lot of details about his Seiko A829-6019, including the serial number. He was simply an incredibly nice person.

Seiko A829-6019 - Watches Heroes

The actual Seiko A829-6019 that Ockels wore in space.

It was also around that time he did a very interesting TED talk in Amsterdam about time. You can watch it here. A few years later again, he reached out to me and asked if I could help with some of his watches (safeguarded by his son). I did, of course, and one of the watches was actually quite special and lead eventually to the Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday. Ockels also had a Speedmaster X-33, that he received in 1998 during the introduction of that watch at the ESA Space Centre. But he flew with his Seiko A829-6019, which I had the pleasure and honor to handle as well (and have pictures taken by Bert).

Wubbo Ockels did a lot of scientific work for creating a better world and worked on a number of interesting energy-related projects. Ockels passed away a few years ago, way too young, and at the end, he called for more awareness for our planet (click here for his last speech).

Heroes - Speedmaster BA145.022

Neil Armstrong, second from right. Image (c) Archives de la Ville de Montréal

Neil Armstrong

I could list basically any astronaut here, of course. I met Thomas P. Stafford for example, who is extremely nice and clever, and I met Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin twice, probably the most awkward encounters I ever had. Then, I had the pleasure to meet a lot of other astronauts, those from the Apollo program up to very recent missions. All of them incredibly nice and talkative. But unfortunately, I never met Neil Armstrong. Although the astronauts before him paved the way for the Apollo 11 mission, enabling Armstrong and Aldrin able to land on the moon, Neil Armstrong was actually the first.

And he never bragged about it. Thousands of people working at NASA and other involved organizations made it possible for him to stand on the moon. He did it, of course, but never became that guy that took all credit for it. We all know which watch Armstrong was wearing during the Apollo 11 mission, the Omega Speedmaster Professional 105.012. Legend has it that he left it in the command module, making Aldrin the first astronaut to wear a Speedmaster (also a 105.012) on the Moon.

The gold Speedmaster Professional BA145.022-69. Armstrong had #17/1014.

However, also in the years after the mission, Neil Armstrong can be spotted wearing his trusty Speedmaster everywhere. Including the gold Speedmaster BA145.022-69, he received during the Houston banquet in 1969. He had number 17 (out of 1,014 they made in total of that watch). In the picture above, you can see Neil Armstrong wearing his gold Speedmaster. As he became somewhat low profile in later years, there isn’t much footage that clearly shows him wearing specific watches. There are also some images and videos to be found of him wearing relatively cheap (unknown) watches. I don’t think he was really concerned about those kinds of things.

Your heroes

As I indicated in the beginning, the older I get, the fewer heroes there are for me. I also think there’s a difference between personal heroes and persons that simply deserve a tremendous amount of respect. That list is, of course, much longer than the people I consider my heroes.

Who do you consider to be your heroes? And do they wear a nice watch? Let us know in the comments below.