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The Tattoo Artists with the Best Watches
Culturecheck

The Tattoo Artists with the Best Watches

By Zarah Cheng
24 Jun 2024
8 min read

From custom snake bracelets to classic Cartier timepieces, we dive into the world of tattoo, art and horology for some of the best watches in this space

Although not apparent upon first glance, there are many similarities between watches and tattoos. Both are created with great artistry. Both instill intense enthusiasm amongst its admirers, known to often manifest into collections. Both become symbols of the wearer, a delineation of identity. 

In recent decades, as tattoos have infiltrated popular culture in unprecedented ways, some tattoo artists themselves have even risen to celebrity status. With many artists gaining large followings on social media and being able to share their work in ways unheard of prior to the advent of platforms such as Instagram, many tattoo artists have garnered such substantial followings that they often have waitlists that extend to several months, if not years. Sounds familiar, right? 

Whether you have tattoos yourself or not, it is difficult to ignore the impact that they have had on style, fashion and pop culture at large in recent years. From singers and rappers, to athletes and celebrity chefs, tattoos have found new significance to the term body art, and have transformed the way that we consider the hand of the artist. 

As an homage to this form of art, we’ve put together a list of our favorite watches from tattoo artists. From buzzy collaborations to custom bracelets, explore these truly enviable timepieces.

Mr. K (@mr.k_tattoo)

Mr. K

As a resident of renowned tattoo studio Bang Bang, Mr. K has an extensive list of celebrity clients that include Matt Damon, Doja Cat, Michael J. Fox, Chris Martin, Dakota Johnson, Rita Ora and Central Cee, to name a few. He is known for his fine line and delicate realism work. The artist is also equally known for his daring sense of style, often showcased via mirror selfies where he is seen wearing pieces from Balenciaga, Vetements, Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens and more. To complement his wardrobe, the Seoul native also has an epic watch collection that includes a gold Rolex Day-Date with a Lapis Dial, a gold Stella Dial Rolex Day-Date in Turquoise, and an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.  

Oscar Akermo (@oscarakermo)

tattoo artists with best watches
Oscar Akermo and his Audemars Piguet Royal Oak / Photo: @oscarakermo

Swedish tattoo artist Oscar Akermo opened his own Brooklyn-based studio, c23, in 2023 after moving on from his residency at Bang Bang. He is known for his pioneering work within “micro-realism tattooing,” often arranged in artful compositions that have become known as the modern black and grey tattoo style. Although he is not known to share personal photos very often, he has been photographed with both an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and a Patek Philippe Nautilus.  

Dr. Woo (@_dr_woo_)

tattoo artists with best watches
Roger Dubuis x Dr. Woo Excalibur Monotourbillon

Largely known to be the artist who popularized fine line tattoos, Dr. Woo was cemented as a household name after establishing repute as an artist to the stars. Having tattooed the likes of Drake, Zoë Kravitz, Miley Cyrus and Hailey Beiber, Dr. Woo is one of today’s most sought-after artists and is notoriously known to have a waitlist upwards of two years. He has also become widely known for driving a previously untapped category in which tattoo, fashion and art come together. It is, therefore, unsurprising that the artist has an ongoing collaboration with Roger Dubuis. First launched in 2021, the watch brand introduced the Roger Dubuis x Dr. Woo Excalibur Monotourbillon, followed by The Excalibur Dr. Woo Monobalancier in 2023. In both timepieces, Dr. Woo’s signature style lends itself to the details in the watch – including his signature two-line pattern – celebrating a truly remarkable collision of two worlds not too far apart.

Maxime Buchi (@maximeplesciabuchi)

Maxime Buchi

Although Maxime Buchi is best known as the founder of revered London-based tattoo studio, Sang Bleu, he is also a true multidisciplinary who is an accomplished graphic designer and creative director. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that he has tattooed both Kanye West and Adam Lambert. Buchi is also known to be one of the first collaborators between a tattoo artist and a luxury watch brand. Together with Hublot, the pair launched the Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu back in 2016 and have gone on to launch two more iterations since, with a dazzling sapphire version of the SANG BLEU 3 unveiled earlier this year at Watches & Wonders 2024.

GB Kim (@gb_kim)

GB Kim

Known for his black and grey work inspired by traditional Korean art, GB Kim is currently an artist at Bang Bang. As perhaps one of the most unique watches on this list, Kim is the owner of a vintage Rolex customized with a one-of-a-kind Snake watch bracelet made by Ape Object, a jewelry and sculpture artist based in Korea. As a truly singular piece, the strap showcases jaw-dropping details of snake scales throughout the entire strap. In this example, the intersection of art, horology and tattoo is truly something to behold. 

JonBoy (@jonboytattoo)

JonBoy

If you’ve ever wondered where your favorite celebrity got their tiny tattoo, it’s probably JonBoy. Known for being one of the pioneers of the “tiny tattoo movement,” he has tattooed the likes of G-Eazy, Travis Scott, Post Malone, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, and Justin Bieber. Along with his signature eyeglasses chains, the NY-based artist is often lensed with his all-gold Rolex Day-Date with a President bracelet.

Ami James (@amijames1)

Tattoo Artists with best watches
Tattoo artist Ami James is often seen wearing a Tudor Black Bay / Photo: @amijames1

When Miami Ink first aired on cable network TLC in 2005, there was nothing else like it. Never before had a mass audience been able to take a candid look inside the daily lives of tattoo artists and to see that there was more to the art form than the delinquent reputation that preceded it. As the co-owner of the shop, Love Hate Tattoos, Ami James was a key fixture on the show, catapulting his fame as both a TV personality and entrepreneur. These days, James regularly shares his work on Instagram, where he is often seen wearing a Tudor Black Bay, one of the best examples of a classic tool watch. On the other end of the spectrum, he was also seen wearing what appeared to be a Rose Gold Rolex Daytona 116505 while he was on tattoo competition show, Ink Master.

Rodrigo Salcedo Velarca (@rodrigosalcedo.v)

Tattoo Artists with best Watches
Tatto artist Rodrigo Salcedo often wears his Cartier Tank Française / Photo: @rodrigosalcedo.v

Based in Mexico City, Rodrigo Salcedo Velarca is an interdisciplinary artist that has expanded beyond tattooing to various other fields that include digital art and visual media, jewelry design, painting and fashion. His black and grey realism work is an extension of his ongoing exploration of a concept he refers to as “Body Alchemy,” which Velarca describes as “a way to comprehend the ritualistic nature of tattooing and its profound ability to transmute energy within the body and soul.” Alongside his art and tattoo work, the Guadalajara-born artist is often photographed wearing a timeless Cartier Tank Française.