LeBron James causes a massive PR blunder by starting the Rolex-sponsored 24 Hours of Le Mans wearing a $3 million Patek Philippe

NBA legend LeBron James kicked off the 100th edition of the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans on Saturday by waving the French flag and giving the command “Pilotes, demarrez vos moteurs” to start the race. The 38-year-old basketball superstar added his name to the prestigious list of celebrities who have received the honor of serving as the official starter for the world’s toughest endurance race, joining the likes of Rafael Nadal and Brad Pitt. However, there was one little problem. LeBron James waved the flag wearing a Patek Philippe and not a Rolex, which has created an embarrassing situation for the brand that has supported the 24 Hours of Le Mans for many years now.

Rolex has served as the official timing partner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2001. The Swiss watchmaker even created special engraved Daytona watches to celebrate the 100th edition of the iconic racing event, which were given to the winning drivers. LeBron James’ decision to wear a Patek Philippe with a bright Tiffany blue dial to a Rolex-supported event has raised a few eyebrows, especially given the fact that the NBA superstar has a big collection of Rolex watches. While the situation can be perceived as a PR disaster, it might not have been intentional, as LeBron is known for his love for Patek Philippe watches.

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The watch LeBron James wore to the racing event is Patek Philippe’s Nautilus ref. 5711/1A-018 ‘Tiffany & Co.’ Limited to only 170 units, the timepiece was released in 2021 to celebrate the 170th anniversary of the alliance between the Swiss watchmaker and Tiffany & Co. The highlight of the watch is its lacquered “Tiffany Blue” dial, which features the logo of the famous American jeweler. Housed inside the 40mm stainless steel case is the Patek Philippe Caliber 26-330 S C, a self-winding movement with a power reserve of between 35 and 45 hours. While the watch was originally priced at $52,635, the very first watch was auctioned for a whopping $6.5 million.

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Sayan Chakravarty, a Senior Writer at Luxurylaunches, brings over 10 years of automotive journalism expertise. He provides insightful coverage of the latest cars and motorcycles across American and European markets, while also highlighting luxury yachts, high-end watches, and gadgets. An authentic automobile aficionado, his commitment shines through in educating readers about the automotive world. When the keyboard rests, Sayan feeds his wanderlust, traversing the world on his motorcycle.