Tom Brady in a campaign image for IWC watches.

Tom Brady has an expensive habit.

The New England Patriots’ legendary quarterback has been collecting fine watches for more than two decades and is indulging that passion even further through a new partnership with IWC Schaffhausen, the Swiss luxury time maker owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont.

In late June, IWC revealed it was partnering with Brady, who will appear in its campaigns and work with the company on other undisclosed projects. Brady had previously been a brand ambassador for Tag Heuer, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Brady said he decided to make the switch to IWC because of his relationship with Richemont chairman Johann Rupert. “He reached out to me earlier this year,” Brady said. “He said he wanted me to be an ambassador. He knew I loved the watches, so thought it would be a great fit.”

Christoph Grainger-Herr, chief executive officer of IWC Schaffhausen, agreed, saying Brady is “a world-class athlete with a sense of style and an appreciation for fine watchmaking. Working with him will enable us to tell the IWC story to a growing audience, especially in the United States.”

Brady, whom the company calls “a connoisseur of haute horlogerie,” counts IWC’s Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Miramar and its Portugieser Perpetual Calendar as among the prize possessions in his watch collection.

In fact, Brady said for his 30th birthday 12 years ago, his wife, Gisele Bündchen, bought him a Portugieser as a gift.

“I’ve been collecting watches for 22 years. And yes, it could be a very expensive habit,” he said with a laugh. “But it’s very fun and I have an appreciation of the beauty of it. I’m just learning more all the time.”

He said he had an IWC watch as a screensaver on his laptop when he was in college, and swore that if he “ever made any bucks, I would buy a watch.” No problem there — his most recent contract with the Patriots, which ends after this coming season, is for $30 million, and his net worth with Bündchen is estimated at $580 million. He ranks at number 81 on Forbes’ list of the highest-paid athletes in 2019 with $27 million, which includes endorsements.

“It’s so very surreal,” Brady said of the deal with IWC, adding that he is “humbled to represent the company.” He pointed to its history — the brand was founded in 1868 — as one reason he wanted to associate with it. “I love that they’re very elegant but simple, masculine and sporty.”

Brady said he doesn’t wear a watch while he’s playing or practicing — “it can get dangerous if you’re sloshing around the field with a piece of metal on your wrist” — but wears one 90 percent of the time when he’s off the field.

He won’t be spending much time off the field for a while. After a little downtime after the Patriots’ sixth Super Bowl win in January — he and Bündchen just returned from a trip to Costa Rica where he took some Internet heat for jumping off a cliff with his six-year-old daughter Vivian — he reported to Patriots training camp this week.

Although his 42nd birthday is right around the corner on Aug. 3, Brady remains one of sport’s most finely tuned athletes. He eats healthy, is maniacal about strength and flexibility, and has even created his own TB12 business that focuses on holistic health and wellness.

Brady said despite his long and storied football career that includes four Super Bowl MVP Awards, three League MVP Awards, and 16 division titles, he remains as motivated today as when he was drafted in 2000.

“I still love playing my sport,” he said. “I’m motivated to keep pushing myself to extremes and testing my limits. When people say, ‘You can’t, you can’t,’ I want to prove them wrong and me right.”

He said that as he gets older, he has learned to be “more efficient” with his time. As far as his football prep, he said “it’s already piled up and logged in my brain,” but he also needs to juggle that with his family obligations. “When you add family, it’s a whole other component,” said the father of three. And sometimes it requires some “tough decisions. Sometimes my professional career requires more time and energy and other times my family. It’s a good balance.”

But for the next few weeks, it’s the Patriots who will get his attention. “Training camp started a couple of days ago,” he said, “so it’s the end of the summer for me. I’ve been at fall camp for 29 years now so I’m used to it, my body clock kicks in and I don’t know my life without it.”

He said he embraces his role as an elder statesman for the team and enjoys offering advice to the younger players. “They used to be more peers, but now that I get older, I’m more of a mentor. They help keep me young but if I can give them some advice at the right time, I like to do that.”

He continued: “I’m a very authentic person, and a very positive and optimistic person. I’ve learned a lot that I can share with the next generation of athletes and young men.”

Some of that advice might revolve around fashion. Brady is also known for his personal style, which he describes as “very functional — I dress for the occasion.” But Brady admits that when he was younger, he sometimes dressed inappropriately. “Sometimes I look back and say, ‘What was I thinking? That was a bad choice.’ But that changes with time and like most men, I put more time and energy into dressing now.”

So whether it’s a Tom Ford suit, a Versace tuxedo, Uggs boots or Under Armour sleepwear (he has had sponsorships deals with the latter two), Brady said, “I like to stay classic.”

But will there ever be a Tom Brady fashion collection? The quarterback didn’t exactly rule it out.

“I don’t know what the future holds,” he said. “I have several things in the works that I can’t talk about now, and I don’t know if they’ll come to fruition, but I’m excited to find something to challenge me in my second career. I’m just not sure when that’ll happen.”

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