If you want to get an advanced education in luxury replica watches, you can of course dive deep on the internet. But you can also just…listen to a lot of rap music. It’s no secret that rappers are more into watches now than they’ve ever been—but the depth and specificity of their adoration is worth dwelling on. You can find a real appreciation for master chronometer certification on Yasiin Bey’s “Speed Law” when he says, “Stay on time like Omegas.” And it doesn’t take too much digging on Genius to find rappers advising the best way to maintain your investment: “When you add diamonds on to your watch, you lower the value of it,” A$AP Ferg adds in the margins of his song “Plain Jane.” And over the past decade a relatively arcane piece of watch trivia has evolved into a brag for rappers who really want to prove they’re in the know: the fact that aaa quality replica Rolex watches don’t tick has become major grist to rap songs.
You start to hear it everywhere once you know what to look for:
On “Astronauts,” Future raps: “Richard Mille or the Rollie it don’t tick-tock”
Both Lil Durk and Rio Da Yung OG use this quality as an insult. On “Lil N****z”, Lil Durk taunts: “And your Rolex tick, lil n***a.” Rio Da Yung OG asks on “Roll Call,”How the fuck you go to Golden Sun and your Rollie tockin’?”
The tick-tock is offensive enough Travis Scott can assassinate his imagined foe’s entire character with a comparison in “Apple Pie” that goes, “I’m for real and your Rollie tick (Whoa).”
Scott’s insult implies a different kind of f-word: that if your Rolex ticks, you’re fake. The idea that only a faux Rolex copy ticks is a nuanced piece of information often buried at the bottom of guides that help you spot a counterfeit. But a little digging shows that things aren’t so black and white. So how did it become the rap world’s most specific brag—and is it even accurate?
Tracing the origin of this line isn’t difficult. On 2011’s Watch the Throne, Jay-Z set the standard when he took the baton from Kanye and rapped, during “N****s in Paris,” “Ball so hard, got a broken clock / Rollies that don’t tick-tock / Audemars that’s losing time / Hidden behind all these big rocks.” And where Jay-Z goes, other rappers often follow.
And what Jay and his peers clearly understand is that Swiss movement replica Rolex watches don’t make the traditional “tick-tock” sound associated with most timekeeping devices. The famous eight-beats-per-second Rolex movement sounds a lot different than, say, a much cheaper electronic quartz watch. A quartz watch works through a quartz crystal that naturally vibrates 32,768 times a second. A circuit monitors those frequencies and pushes the seconds hand forward on every 32,768th vibration, which creates that one-tick-per-second motion.
But with his famous line line, Hov propagated what could be argued is a watch-world myth. See, Rolex clone watches do tick. They just move at that blistering eight ticks per second pace: videos documenting the noise sound like they’re playing on fast forward. One concerned Rolex Forums user who worried over the ticking noise—because his “friend says fake rolexs [sic] make a tick noise”—was quickly soothed by fellow collectors. “If my Rolex didn’t make a ticking sound,” one commenter chimed in, “I’d be worried!”
What’s more likely is that Jay and the rappers who have followed his lead weren’t necessarily rapping about the ticking noise but the ticking motion. While both real and top quality fake Rolex watches generate a ticking sound, replicating the motion of the seconds hand is a much more difficult task. On a Rolex, that hand makes what’s called a “sweeping” motion, as opposed to a “ticking” one. The difference, clearly seen here, makes obvious the difference between the sweep motion and a once-per-second push ahead. The hand looks like it’s gliding across the dial, a result of the Rolex movement beating so quickly—those aforementioned eight ticks per second—that it appears to be moving fluidly. That type of high-quality movement isn’t one easily replicated by counterfeiters.
So he’s not all wrong. But if Jay-Z really wanted his line to be accurate, he would have bragged about owning a different copy watch entirely. Though we’re not sure a song about a Grand Seiko Spring Drive, which famously doesn’t tick, would have made for quite the same chart-topping hit.