Months before Tom Brady left the New England Patriots after 20 years to sign a two-year, $50-million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he switched teams in the watch world. In July 2019, the legendary quarterback joined the Swiss watch brand IWC Schaffhausen as a brand ambassador.
As part of the partnership, IWC produced a short film about the six-time Super Bowl champion—Born of a Dream: A Boy from San Mateo, which chronicles Brady’s childhood goal of becoming a star quarterback. Directed by Rune Milton, the film—which is about four minutes long—focuses on Brady’s young life, his college years (particularly his being the 199th draft pick in 2000 by the Patriots) and his rise to success.
Born of a Dream opens with a scene of Brady playing in the pouring rain for the Patriots in the 2002 Super Bowl. Subsequent scenes show flashbacks of kids teasing him, his agonizingly long wait by the phone at home during draft season, and, eventually, a big Super Bowl victory. In all, the movie is emotional and enlightening. Naturally, Brady plays his adult self.
After the making of this movie, I had the chance to interview Brady and get some insight into his thoughts on being a different kind of star, and on how time plays a role in his life. As to the film, he was quick to say that it was easy—he only had to play himself.
“Times like we are facing now will build character,” Brady says. “Sometimes what you think are the most difficult moments end up being the best ones in the long run.”
“I learned about the story of [IWC founder] F. A. Jones for the film and reading about his dreaming big and having the courage to follow his dreams, I could relate to the story,” says Brady. “I like that IWC wants to focus on dreams and overcoming different obstacles along the way. I think so many people in their careers can relate to those stories, to those inspirational moments where people can say, ‘I understand it was hard for you too.’ In life, there are challenges for everyone, and it is how we deal with the challenges that shapes who we are. Who we end up being is a reflection of our experiences. If you face adversity, does it discourage you or encourage you even more? These moments can build toughness and character.”
When Brady and I talked, he and his wife, model Gisele Bundchen, and their kids had already moved to Florida to prepare for the new NFL season. Covid-19 was already afflicting America and Brady reflected on what this great pause means to him and his family. He discussed this as being a time that helps us build strength, that shapes us.
“Times like we are facing now will build character,” says Brady, who will turn 43 this August. “Sometimes what you think are the most difficult moments end up being the best ones in the long run because sometimes you come out of it better and stronger. We have to make the best decisions we can moving forward, with different perspectives and in different ways.”
While many look at Brady’s Hall of Fame football career and think it came easy, in fact, he says, it didn’t. As a sixth-round draft pick for the Patriots, Brady has worked hard, done his best, but his fear was that his best wasn’t good enough. No matter the adversity, Brady has always surrounded himself with a team of supporters.
“Both personally and professionally, I have faced challenges and sought out people who had better professional insights where I could use their experiences to learn from,” he says. “In my young career I doubted myself a lot. When I saw things that weren’t going my way, I thought I was the victim of circumstance. But when I changed, shifted my view and my mind to say ‘I am not a victim, why don’t I empower myself’ I could grow in ways I was struggling. Through working with psychologists and others, I learned you have to face the challenges and look at them as opportunities for growth. It was a lot of work, but it really paid off in my life. My wife uses a great line, ‘The teacher appears when the student is ready.’ You can’t force something to happen in your life. You have to just be open and embrace them when the time is right.”
Brady admits that—like everyone—he has trouble juggling everything in his life and balancing out all of his commitments, from football to family, and his business, TB12 performance lifestyle, hydration and nutritional company.
“For me, time has changed a lot,” he says. “There were times when I was younger and had a lot more free or disposable time that I could focus my time and energy on things probably weren’t as relevant as the things I am doing today, and now I don’t feel like I have that much free time at all. I have to find the time to rebalance and refocus and make concerted efforts to do that because there are a lot of requests for my time. I am hyper-focused on taking care of my body because in the end, for my sport, my body is my asset, taking care of it is what my profession is, and the better I do that, the better career I’m going to have. It’s hard to balance time.”
While Brady doesn’t dwell on the longest periods of his life, he is quick to expound on the shortest moments. “I think the Super Bowl,” he says. “Those wins go exceptionally fast. You don’t even have time to enjoy those because they happen so quick. From the moment you win, there is such sensory overload, there are so many things happening at one time, so many moments happing all flying by.”
While this is not his first go-round as a watch brand ambassador (he had previously been an ambassador for TAG Heuer), Brady said he has been a fan of IWC watches since his college days. In fact, he says it was the first expensive watch he ever bought himself.
“My senior year in college, I had this screen saver on my Dell Inspiron computer—it was an IWC automatic alarm watch. Every day, I would open up my computer and that was the image on my screen and I always thought that when I made money, I was going to buy that. When I got drafted, it wasn’t a first-round pick so my first professional paycheck wasn’t that much money. But I ended up signing a second contract after we won our Super Bowl and around Thanksgiving in 2002, I went to the Tourneau store in New York and ended up buying an IWC; not the alarm because by then it was too old and wasn’t in stores, but I bought an IWC chronograph that I still have today.”
Now that Brady is part of the IWC team, he says he seven or eight of its timepieces in his collection. His current favorite—and the one he was wearing when he signed his contract with the Buccaneers, is an IWC Timezoner. “Then I also have this blue-faced Portugieser Perpetual Calendar that is so chic that I wear on fancier occasions,” he says. “These are my two favorite watches.”
Interestingly enough, a good friend found that IWC alarm watch on the vintage market and gave it to Brady on his birthday last year. “I was so shocked and happy,” he recalls. “I didn’t know how to set the alarm, so I was sitting in a football meeting and fussing with it, and all of a sudden it starts buzzing and I was looking at it like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ It was pretty cool.”
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