Reggaeton superstar J Balvin recalls how declining a free Richard Mille almost put his life in dangerZach Blass
J Balvin is one the hottest Latin artists in the world with the Colombian musician commonly referred to as the ‘Prince of Reggaeton’. Selling over 35 million records worldwide, his status within the industry and high-income from his work allow him to engage with some of the most in-demand watches and brands in the world. His personal watch collection has received ample coverage on the internet, but his appearance on the latest episode of Hot Ones opened a brief window into his collector perspective – tackling topics such as the watch that was hardest for him to find, AP vs. Patek, and his views on “bussing down” watches.
The most difficult watch for J Balvin to track down…
Unfortunately for us watch enthusiasts he does not express the exact reference of Richard Mille he found the hardest to get, but perhaps the environment he received the watch in was tougher than finding the actual timepiece. J Balvin explains in his intermission between hot wings, “The most difficult one… It was a gift that someone gave it to me. A guy came to me, he was like, ‘Listen I respect you a lot and I want to give you this as a gift.’ I was like, ‘Listen I cannot receive it, you know, like I don’t want you over any favours.”
But the man in question, his name not disclosed, was clearly not having it and may have even had criminal ties. According to J Balvin the man replied, “‘If you don’t receive it you’re not going to get out of this country,’ and I know he was saying it for real.”
So in the name of self-preservation J Balvin relented and accepted the watch. While most would be scarred from such a scenario, even while walking away with a prized Richard Mille, J Balvin left the encounter feeling positive. As he says in his own words: “life works in mysterious ways”.
Who is the better Swiss watchmaker, Audemars Piguet or Patek Philippe?
Before I get into his answer, I will say Sean Evans pronunciation in the video of Patek is a #watchfam party foul (stressing the pa syllable like the word paw). While J Balvin did sort of cop out by not expressing a preference of one particularly over the over, I actually really respect his answer. J Balvin stressed the classic nature of Patek Phillipe and their ability to maintain the same design language in new colours over the years of their manufacture. He effectively stressed their timelessness, being capable of being largely unchanged in profile while still appealing to watch buyers around the world. Audemars Piguet, on the other hand, he lauds for the more modern designs and that the brand presents a design language that better resonates with younger consumers.
“Buss (bust) down” watches?
For those not familiar with the vernacular, “buss down” watches are those that have been taken to a jeweller to have diamonds or gemstones set throughout the entire watch. While many celebrities within the music industry, or other famous individuals, may gravitate to the flair and opulence of blinged out watches, J Balvin considers himself more of a watch purist. Sean Evans acknowledged this and asked him what he felt about iced out watches, J Balvin screaming “NOOOO” while shaking his arms and head before Evans could even finish the question. “Don’t ever ‘buss down’ watches,” he insisted.
J Balvin believes, like many within the watch community, that maintaining a watch’s original design is key – for both aesthetic and secondhand value. He explains, “I love to see my boys growing up in the game, you know like artists that have been supporting me since day one. You know when they start getting money they start, like, I still need to buss down the first Rolex, first AP, or first whatever. Add a million in diamonds if you want, the real price of the watch is going down because it’s not original. Every time I see like someone with a watch that is beautiful and they had diamonds [put on] I’m like, ‘No bro you did not touch that’. So please keep your watches original, you know respect the art. Respect the legacy.”
It is clear J Balvin is immersed enough in watch culture to have a disciplined mindset when it comes to watches. Rather than merely buy the brands, it would seem that he’s taken the time to better understand the product, community, and marketplace. For your convenience, we’ve embedded the full video above – starting at the moment they begin talking watches. Enjoy!