A fixture of both the San Antonio Spurs and ’90s professional basketball, David Robinson, aka “The Admiral,” is one of the most dominant centers to have ever played the game. Standing seven-foot-one, Robinson had a 14-year NBA career spent entirely with the Spurs. During that time, he won Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and league MVP, not to mention being a scoring champion, rebound leader, block leader, and a 10-time All-Star. And oh yeah, he was instrumental in the Spurs winning two NBA Championships too.
Want more? Ever hear of “The Dream Team”? In 1992, Robinson was part of the United States Men’s Basketball team for the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. Robinson and his teammates, who included Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, and Michael Jordan, unsurprisingly took home the gold medal that year.
Robinson earned his nickname while serving as an officer in the United States Navy before becoming a professional basketball player. Fun fact: Robinson was so promising as a player that the Spurs drafted him in 1987 despite the fact that he intended to complete his commitment with the Navy and wouldn’t start his NBA career until the 1989 season. Retiring after the Spurs’ NBA Championship win in 2003, Robinson has since invested considerable resources into educational philanthropy in the San Antonio area. A longstanding proponent of college-level education, Robinson and his wife founded the Carver Academy in San Antonio in 2001. The Academy stands to help underprivileged youth establish a plan to attend and complete college.
From his start in the Navy to an incredible career with the Spurs and his continued charitable endeavours, David Robinson has always had a fascination with watches. Starting with a watch that was gifted to him for winning the Hawaiian Classic, Robinson has amassed an impressive collection of pieces that connect directly to his life as a professional basketball player. It’s an eclectic mix that reflects Robinson’s considerable stature, how he spends his free time with his family, and his overarching love of watches and watchmaking. Let’s dig in.
Piaget Upstream Chronograph
This early 2000s tonneau Piaget was a retirement gift from fellow Spurs teammate Tim Duncan. Clearly well worn by Robinson, this Upstream Chronograph has a casual appeal with dressy touches that, while small by today’s tastes, would not have looked out of place in 2003 on the wrist of a basketball player standing over seven feet tall. This keepsake from a partnership that defined part of Robinson’s NBA career is a lasting token to the effect he had on his teammates.
Franck Muller King Conquistador
Big, bold, and legible, Robinson’s Franck Muller King Conquistador has a flashy dressiness that is entirely on point for an NBA player enjoying a night on the town. Robinson’s taste for watchmaking and the appeal of classic gold watches finds a home in this “big boy” Franck Muller. Classic with a twist, and not sacrificing legibility, the King Conquistador is a funky chronograph with a distinct charm and huge wrist presence.
Ulysse Nardin Triple Jack Minute Repeater
One of the crown jewels of Robinson’s impressive collection, this decidedly traditional and very complicated Ulysse Nardin, is hand-wound and offers the old world charm of a minute repeater. The Triple Jack Minute Repeater has a svelte yellow gold case, a gorgeous open view from the display case back, and a dial depicting a trio of men striking large bells. While perhaps an unexpected choice for the composition of Robinson’s collection, given that Ulysse Nardin is his favorite watchmaker, a top-tier offering like the Triple Jack Minute Repeater makes a lot of sense and it definitely suits his taste for dressier watches with legit watchmaking credibility.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Quantième Perpétuel
With 20 years of diving, snorkeling, and other adventures etched across its surfaces, this is one of the more well-loved Royal Oak Offshores I’ve ever come across. That’s right, NBA legend David Robinson wears a QP ROO while diving with his family in Hawaii – How great it that? This is an insanely cool watch that speaks not only to Robinson’s resilience and sporting lifestyle, but also to his continued fascination with watchmaking and high-level complications. Big, chunky, and clearly ready for more than a dip in the pool, this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Quantième Perpétuel seems a perfect choice for Robinson and I was thrilled to learn that his wear-it-don’t-spare-it attitude included diving with a watch that many would be afraid to wear while lying on the beach.
Having his Submariner go MIA after giving it to his son, Robinson’s choice of Rolex is fittingly just a bit more special. This reference 116622 Yacht-Master is another example of a great watch that has seen a lot of wrist time, since Robinson feels it’s a solid and easy-wearing everyday choice that stands apart from a standard Submariner. It’s a classic style, perfect on the steel bracelet, and an excellent step up from something you see all the time.
Hublot Big Bang
Robinson picked up this sporty Hublot Big Bang while traveling in Miami with the Spurs. A perfect Miami watch, and certainly not a watch (or brand) foreign to NBA players, this watch offers a more youthful style that still connects with watchmaking. On a rubber strap with a black dial and red accents, this is a great example of the style and format that made Hublot a major player in the space by blending aspects of an everyday wearable watch alongside a specific style and appeal.
F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance
An effortlessly cool watch, this F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance has a rare charm that works on both watch enthusiasts and those who have no idea what they are looking at. With a thin and well-proportioned platinum case housing a lovely hand-wound movement with two time displays, the Chronomètre à Résonance looks incredible and speaks directly to Robinson’s passion for truly special watchmaking. After all, there’s no such thing as a causal F.P. Journe buyer, and it’s not everyday you get to see any Journe, let alone a Resonance. Discovering this example among Robinson’s varied collection was nothing short of a treat.
Panerai Luminor 1950 GMT Ceramica
The latest addition to Robinson’s collection, this Panerai Luminor 1950 GMT Ceramica (PAM438) was a gift from David’s wife for a recent birthday. At 44mm wide with a case and bracelet made of matte black ceramic, this Panerai looks custom made for Robinson’s wrist. Given both his travel schedule and his love of sporty activities, this Luminor seems a solid choice for his collection and has become the main watch in his rotation since he received it.