High-top Heaven: What If Iconic Sneakers Were Made Into Watches?

High-top Heaven: What If Iconic Sneakers Were Made Into Watches?

This past February, we presented readers with our mockups of what we thought would happen if iconic fashion houses turned some of their best-known pieces into watches and were very excited by the results. So much so, in fact, that we kept running (get it?) with this idea, but this time, we delved into the world of sneakers.

By Cait Bazemore

After asking ourselves, “What if iconic fashion houses turned some of their best-known pieces into watches,” we mocked up a few ideas that we were extremely pleased with the results and wanted to keep at it. That is why, this time around, we’re exploring the realm of iconic sneakers.

Why? Because sneakerheads and watch enthusiasts have a lot in common.

For starters, each collector community is pretty diehard, appreciating not only the objects themselves but also for their place in history and pop culture. (Not to mention that both products are often the perfect balance of design and utility to create wearable art.)

However, if watches and sneakers have anything in common, it’s that they tell a story, and here are five iconic sneakers reimagined into wristwatches.


We here at Watchonista are neither watch designers nor do we have any verifiable information that any of the brands for which we created fantasy mockup watches have any plans to make or market timepieces in the future or ever, for that matter.

Watchonista neither contacted nor consulted with any of the featured brands during the creation and preparation of this article. We are merely engaging in some armchair speculation and trying to answer the question: “What if?”

Nike Air Jordan III (AJ3)

When it comes to the question of the most iconic sneakers ever made, at least one pair of Air Jordans by Nike would have to top (or at least come close to topping) any serious list. It’s not even a stretch to say Air Jordan is like the Rolex of the sneaker world because you don’t have to be a sneakerhead by any measure to know and understand the cultural impact of the brand’s signature high top designed with the legend, Michael Jordan, himself.

The first Air Jordans debuted in 1985. However, the Air Jordan III, a.k.a. the AJ3, came three years later in 1988 and really put the shoes on the map because it marked a few significant firsts in the history of Air Jordans: It was the first Jordan to be designed by the legendary Tinker Hatfield. It was the first to feature the now-iconic “Jumpman” badging. And it was the first to be featured in those famous commercials with Mars Blackmon and Spike Lee.

Although the AJ3 has taken many forms over the years, black and red make up the shoes’ signature color palette. Meanwhile, contrasting pops of gray can be found on the collar and in the elephant hide print on the heel counter (which is another element introduced by the first AJ3). Thus, to give any AJ3-inspired watch super fire vibes, you would have to include at least one of these colors on the dial (along with the Nike Air logo) and one of these textures utilized on the strap.

Adidas Stan Smith in Green & White

While the Air Jordan may be the most instantly recognizable sneaker ever made, the Stan Smith by German brand Adidas may be the most widely popular. That is because the Stan Smith, in its signature green and white color palette, became the “it” shoe in 1988 when it set the world record for the most pairs of an athletic shoe ever sold at 22 million. And its popularity hasn’t slowed since, even crossing over from the collections of sneakerheads to the closets of celebrities, fashion icons, and social media influencers.

Fun Fact: When Adidas first introduced the model in 1965, it marked the first tennis shoe made in leather and took its name from two-time Grand Slam singles and five-time Grand Slam doubles champion tennis player Stan Smith.

Like the Air Jordan, Adidas’ Stan Smith is part of the cultural zeitgeist and has taken many forms; however, its crispy green and white variation remains the most highly coveted. Thus, if there were ever to be a Stan Smith-inspired watch made, it would most certainly be in this color scheme. Of course, the timepiece would be complete with a leather strap in honor of the sneaker’s original use of the material, and perhaps that leather texture would even extend to the dial for added interest.

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star 70 x Comme des Garcons PLAY

Like Stan Smiths, Chuck Taylor All-Stars made by Converse are sneakers with influence that reaches beyond collectors and into the mainstream. However, interestingly, although the first iteration of the All-Star (which came out over 100 years ago in 1917) was marketed initially as a basketball shoe, the design has remained largely unchanged.

Fun Fact: While unusual for modern athletic shoes, All-Star uppers are merely a “loose lining” of soft cotton canvas, which was meant to provide flexibility and prevent blisters on and off the court.

Still, Converse often likes blurring the lines between art and fashion by collaborating with brands and artists. And the mash-up with Comme des Garcons (which first came about in 2009) marked one of the earliest high-fashion sneaker collabs and resulted in the perfect pair of All-Stars to inspire a wristwatch.

For instance, the playful heart and eyes logo designed by Polish artist Filip Pagowski is the ideal detail to serve as the centerpiece for a watch face. Moreover, extending the red, black, and white color scheme from the dial to the strap would look great, especially if both were rendered in cotton canvas to echo the shoe’s material.

New Balance 990 MADE in the USA

Like how watch lovers often use their timepieces to make a fashion statement, a big part of the sneakerhead community is flexing your style through the sneakers you collect and wear. In fact, AJ3s, Stan Smiths, and All-Stars are all examples of these kinds of flash kicks. Then we have gear like the New Balance 990s, which are perhaps among the humblest of trainers on the market due to their subtler, more under-the-radar appeal.

Fun Fact: When the model launched in 1982, it was marketed as a premium running shoe and became the first sneaker to cost in the triple digits ($100, to be exact). Meanwhile, the MADE in the USA variant came two decades later to stress the importance of American industry and celebrate American craftsmanship.

Like the other sneakers we’ve explored thus far, the 990s have taken many forms over the years. And while the monochromatic gray color palette is likely the most recognizable, we suspect one of the more playful color schemes might inspire a watch design.

Plus, given the practical nature of the 990, we imagine its wristwatch counterpart is akin to a trusty field watch with a design that may favor warm, neutral tones. Finally, add a few pops of color via dial badging or a dial texture resembling a sneaker lining combined with a sturdy stainless steel build or a sporty NATO strap, and the look is complete

Vans Old Skool

Last but not least, a list of iconic sneakers wouldn’t be complete without a skate shoe: Borne from a doodle sketched by Vans co-founder Paul Van Doren, the Old Skool is the O.G. skate shoe and became the brand’s first design to feature the now-iconic leather insignia (which was first called the “jazz stripe” and now the “sidestripe”) along its outer panels.

Fun Fact: While the brand is now synonymous with the skating community (thanks, in large part, to this shoe), Vans was originally known for its “deck shoes,” and the Old Skool marked the first departure from this design when it debuted in 1977.

Of course, to translate the Old Skool DNA into a wristwatch, it is essential to retain the brand’s signature sidestripe, and a strap seems like the perfect place to do so because it echoes the placement on the side of the sneakers. Additionally, the Old Skool’s trademark black and white color scheme will seamlessly transfer to the watch canvas, perhaps even including a splash of red for the classic Vans “off the wall” logo.

Finally, like some of the other sneaker-inspired watches we’ve discussed, the sporty vibe of such a watch would certainly lend itself to a lightweight titanium or ceramic build for comfort and wearability, just like the iconic shoes.

(Mock-up watches created by Watchonista)

And receive each week a custom selection of articles.

Merch Madness: Watchmakers are Getting into the Business of Fashion

By Rhonda RicheEditor-At-Large
From Audemars Piguet’s Cactus Jack crossover to Panerai and Breitling’s luxe boutique accessories, brands are getting into the gear game.

Runway Models: What If Iconic Fashion Pieces Were Made Into Watches?

By Tanya DukesContributor
While some fashion brands collaborate with established watch brands, others make or market their own watches, leading us to wonder what would happen if this...