The road to Rhuigi Villaseñor seeing him, he may love watches a little too a lot. “If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t want watches,” jokes Rhude’s designer. “It’s dangerous to love them all.” Lacking a time machine, Villaseñor lives dangerously: collecting the sacred grail of Patek Philippes and the experimental Audemars Piguet, watching his idols (and now customers) also drift. Here he goes GQ through what has been in its rotation lately.
GQ: How did you get into collecting?
Vilasenor: When I started Rhude, I made a pretty good amount of money with a T-shirt with a bandana and a hood. Watches were one of the things I spent my money on. My first purchase was a 36mm Rolex Datejust, an all-gold Day-Date and another Datejust, all at once. I’m the type of person, if I do, I’ll just try to start the collection as soon as possible. Which is actually stupid, but whatever.
From there you have added several legendary watches, such as the rose-gold Patek Philippe Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept and Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar.
For me, these are the grails in watch collecting. I remember wearing this eternal calendar; a friend of mine was like, “How? Where? When? “Farrell wore it in the Frontin video, and I remember saying, ‘This watch, I need it.’
How much did hip-hop and music videos inform your taste for watches?
It was inevitable – there were no Walkers and GQ has not yet written about watches. The world of watches was so archaic and closed. But if you look back, Jay-Z raped for Richard Mill so early.
AP created the Royal Oak Concept line in 2002 as a testing ground for its most modern and futuristic ideas. What drew you to this piece?
I’m not up to the task of buying a concept whip yet, but this is a concept watch. This is a rubber watch – the closest thing to a grown G-Shock. I remember again seeing Farrell wearing it and saying to myself, “What the hell is this?” [More recently] I was in the office with [Jay-Z] and he wore one. I kept quiet about it, and then weeks later I went and bought one.