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John Mayer, Watch

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What is John Mayer obsessed with? Hm, you may come up with a few possible answers to this question based on what we know about the singer-songwriter: guitars, music, beautiful women, poetry...

And while all of those things would be more-than-fair answers to such a question, they're not the answer we're looking for.

The 37-year-old Connecticut native is obsessed with watches. Yes, watches. Yes, that accessory that you wear on your arm mainly for looks these days, thanks to cellphones, but were originally created to help tell time. That thing.

"When you're a kid, you don't have much, so you are building these imaginary, macrocosmic worlds out of these really small things," Mayer—who slept with his head inside a cardboard box instead of a pillow as a kid, because that's where he kept his prize possessions, most significantly his watch—explained during an interview with The New York Times.

"I remember looking at it, and it was my friend," he said of his first watch, a Star Wars-themed Armitron digital emblazoned with images of C-3PO and R2-D2. "It was one of the biggest things I ever owned in my life, if you were to amortize it in terms of where you were in your life and what it meant to me."

And his watch collection is valued at quite the pretty penny, with the singer estimating that his tick-tock treasure, stored in bank vaults, is valued "in the tens of millions," but declined to cite a specific dollar amount.

"John is something of a watch-nerd icon," said Benjamin Clymer, founder of Hodinkee, which features watch news and reviews. "I think, in a lot of ways, John made it OK to really go deep into watches and not be embarrassed about it. I can't tell you how many guys have come up to me at events and said, ‘My wife or girlfriend thought I was crazy for caring about watches so much, until I told her John Mayer was the very same way.' "

"I think you're born a watch person," he said. "Even if you don't own a watch for a while, you either get it or you don't." (And apparently a lot of Mayer's exes didn't get it, because they would call his obsession with watches a "syndrome.")

He bought his first "real" watch, a Rolex Explorer II, not long after receiving his first "real" check from a record label. "You take it home and you study and you wear it, and the first thing you notice is, ‘Whoa, this thing is heavy,' " Mayer said. "You've never felt weight shift like that on your wrist. It's heavy in weight, but it's also heavy in the sense that all these pieces are working together. It's what I call the ‘density of design.' "

But it's not about the status for the celeb. "You take it, and it becomes your thing," he said. "You go: ‘You're my one and only watch, you're my Rolex. I got a Rolex.' It's like a Cadillac. Rolex transcends watches as a name. It's ‘the Rolex of' something, ‘the Cadillac of' something."

He continued, "I remember thinking—and this is a very important feeling—that I could go anywhere with this watch, because I couldn't be lost. I could get lost in Paris, but I had my watch. Now, on its face, no pun intended, it doesn't make sense. All your watch does is tell the time. But why do you feel strapped? Why do you feel equipped?

"It would take a lot of poetry to explain it."