Top 10 (Plus 1) Soccer Watches In Honor Of The FIFA World Cup 2014
With the FIFA World Cup still feverishly underway, I’d like to take a brief look at ten – well, eleven – of the most interesting soccer-related timepieces.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Leo Messi Limited Edition
Argentina’s star player Lionel (Leo) Messi is often called the world’s best soccer player. As FC Barcelona’s star forward since 2005, he has led the Spanish league champions to capture three Champions League and five Spanish championship titles.
His personal accolades are no less impressive and include four FIFA Ballon d’Or awards, three European Golden Shoe awards and even a Guinness Book world record: most goals in one year (91).
This list could go on, but for our purposes, let’s just suffice it to say that he has also won the hearts of Audemars Piguet, who has made a limited edition Royal Oak model in honor of the man who joined the company’s ambassador ranks in 2010.
The Royal Oak Leo Messi Limited Edition, limited to just 1,000 pieces, is available in three case combinations: stainless steel/tantalum, rose gold/tantalum, and platinum/tantalum.
Coming on a high-quality alligator skin strap, it is delivered with an additional sporty rubber strap.
Just before the start of the FIFA World Cup, Messi visited the Audemars Piguet factory. Check out the video from the visit: Messi is wearing the platinum edition here.
Franck Muller Perpetual Calendar Bi-Retro Chronograph
Cristiano Ronaldo is now an official ambassador for TAG Heuer and reportedly wears the 50th Anniversary Chronograph Carrera. Just before that announcement he was involved in a massive advertising campaign for Jacob & Co.’s Ghost Watch this past April.
Be that all as it may, I think the limited edition Franck Muller Perpetual Calendar Bi-Retro Chronograph made especially for him in 2012 perhaps fit his personal style best.
This ultra-complicated timepiece, limited only to seven pieces, exhibited the added fun of a diamond-encrusted number 7 on the dial, signifying Ronaldo’s jersey number when he played for Manchester United (he now plays for Real Madrid).
The case back boasts an engraving of Ronaldo and his signature.
For a lot more information on that, including a summary of Miguel Seabra’s personal interview with him, read: Dueling Soccer Giants: The Rivalry of Ronaldo and Messi Continues on Their Wrists.
Richard Mille RM 11-01 Roberto Mancini
It was likely only a matter of time before Richard Mille went into soccer, and the boutique brand has now done so in two ways: by becoming the timing partner of Manchester City and by engaging ambassador Roberto Mancini.
As a player, Mancini won the Italian league championships six times and was voted player of the year twice. He is now a manager, having just left Turkish team Galatasaray and currently negotiating a new contract elsewhere. Mancini chose to collaborate on a new design for one of my Richard Mille favorites, the RM011, which turns this limited edition into the RM 11-01. The technical modification sees it able to display match time based on two 45-minute halves. If there is overtime (and there nearly always is), the flyback chronograph can handle that as well.
The visual modification adds the colors of the Italian flag to reflect Mancini’s nationality. www.richardmille.com
Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec SFV Special Edition
Carl F. Bucherer sponsors Swiss national goalkeeper Diego Benaglio as well as the Swiss Football Association (SFV). As such, the Lucerne-based brand has turned the robust Patravi ScubaTec into a tribute watch sporting a number of symbolic elements: red and black for the association’s corporate colors, engraved soccer players on the dial, and the SFV’s logo at 6 o’clock on the bezel top the list.
The case back is engraved with a soccer ball and the name of the Swiss national soccer player who is the lucky recipient of the watch. For more about this, please read: Argentina vs. Switzerland FIFA World Cup Matchup: Leo Messi’s Audemars Piguet Takes On Diego Benaglio’s Carl F. Bucherer And More.
IWC Portuguese Yacht Club
IWC sponsored the German national team with official special edition DFB (German football association) watches during the 2008, 2010 and 2012 tournaments.
The DFB has decided to stop the official partnership for “strategic reasons,” however the players had reported really appreciated the watches as they marked these very special tournaments for them in a unique and lasting way.
Thus, some of the players decided to order unofficial “2014 editions” for themselves of the Portuguese Yacht Club in stainless steel, which they purchased and had had personalized themselves, as a symbol of solidarity.
German national coach Joachim (Jogi) Löw has been very visibly wearing his during the World Cup in Brazil as he directs the team from the sidelines.
Swiss national coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, is an official ambassador for IWC and has been wearing the Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph in red gold throughout the World Cup in Brazil. Though the Swiss national team was knocked out in the 118th minute by Argentina in the quarterfinals, they will certainly remember the tournament with fondness thanks to their great watches (see above). www.iwc.com/en/collection/portuguese/IW3902
Parmigiani Pershing Chronograph
Parmigiani Fleurier is the official watch sponsor of the CBF, the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol or the Brazilian football association.
To mark the occasion of the World Cup in Brazil, the Fleurier-based brand created a collection of Pershing models as tribute to the centennial anniversary of the CBF engraved with the association’s emblem on the case back and clad in its official colors: gold, blue, and green.
Highly unusually, there is also even a ladies’ model among the collection. And because Parmigiani thought to include us female soccer fans, I’m going to nominate that particular version for this listing, even if it is simply a dressed-up version of the 42 mm men’s watch. (Yes, it is also 42 mm in size.)
Hublot Big Bang Unico Bi-Retrograde Chronograph
As the main sponsor of the World Cup as well as players, teams and associations far too numerous to mention here, Hublot has naturally created several soccer-related limited editions celebrating soccer’s biggest event. (These also seem too numerous to mention.)
My favorite of the bunch is the official watch of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil: the Big Bang Unico Bi-Retrograde Chronograph. It was especially developed so that the wearer can time each 45-minute half of the game.
Its color scheme is as vibrant as the games come over on television and it comes in two versions: gold with a carbon fiber bezel (limited to 100 pieces) or black ceramic with a carbon fiber bezel (200 pieces).
Like Richard Mille’s RM 11-01, the World Cup’s Big Bang Unico Bi-Retrograde Chronograph can also mechanically track overtime in each half. www.hublot.com/en/watches/big-bang-unico-bi-retrograde-chrono-king-gold-carbon
Hautlence HLQ03 and HLRS02 (sorry, I can’t choose!)
At Baselworld, Hautlence introduced former French national player Eric Cantona as its new ambassador.
Cantona and Hautlence are currently designing something together, a special-edition watch, which will likely have blue on the dial as Hautlence recently revealed (blue is Cantona’s favorite color). It is destined to be presented at the brand’s ten-year anniversary celebration in September.
So for right now, Cantona wears both the HLQ03 and HLRS02 models. While they are already ultra-cool on their own, having them on Cantona’s wrist makes them that much cooler.
Breitling for Bentley B05 Unitime
Thanks to his great fashion sense and GQ-style good looks, David Beckham, formerly of Manchester United, L.A. Galaxy and Paris Saint-Germain, remains one of the world’s most famous footballers even if he is now (just) retired.
His interest in watches is widely known and he has been seen wearing a variety of timepieces over the years such as a Rolex Sea Dweller and a number of 47 mm Jacob & Co. models.
He became the official spokesperson for Breitling in 2012, and currently he sports a Breitling for Bentley B05 Unitime in the Swiss brand’s advertising. I find this watch with its fabulous guilloche pattern on the bezel (inspired by the interior of a Bentley) fits his interesting wardrobe choices and jet-setting lifestyle very well.
This particular model is powered by the automatic in-house B05 caliber, an officially certified chronometer, which includes a chronograph and world time. It comes in a 49 mm case available in stainless steel or red gold.
JeanRichard Aeroscope Chronograph Arsenal
As global partner and official watch partner of London’s Premier League soccer club Arsenal F.C., it was a no-brainer for JeanRichard to create special watches.
In fact, there are two. The first is a special Aeroscope chronograph limited to just 250 pieces housed in a 44 mm black titanium case with a red dial and matching red rubber strap. The Arsenal Gunners’ canon forms the hand for the running seconds, a quirky, interesting detail.
The second is a 44 mm stainless steel Terrascope series featuring the Arsenal Gunners’ canon logo at 6 o’clock.
Arsenal’s starters include German national team players Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski in addition to Belgian national team player Thomas Vermaelen and French national team player Olivier Giroud.
Plus One: Maurice Lacroix Pontos S
As the official watch partner of FC Barcelona, Maurice Lacroix has teamed up with one of the world’s most prestigious and successful soccer clubs – and one that few people know was co-founded in 1889 by Swiss countryman Hans (“Joan”) Gamper.
Current players include Argentina’s superstar striker Lionel Messi and Brazilian powerhouse forward Neymar (on that note, we’d like to wish Neymar a speedy recovery following the unfortunate injury that fractured one of his vertebrae during the quarterfinal match against Colombia).
As the partnership is still only a few months old, there is no official watch yet. However, soccer fanatics can look forward to two versions in the near future: an affordable “fan’s watch” will provide an entry-level chance for anyone to own a quality Swiss timepiece.
Mechanical timepiece connoisseurs can look forward to a “player’s watch” as well as a sophisticated “executive model.”
But for now, I’d love to nominate the Pontos S for this list, which, according to North American president Hartmut Kraft, is by far the brand’s best-selling timepiece at this time. It’s not hard to see why: in a contemporary 43 mm stainless steel case and especially on the dynamically striped Nato strap available in several colors, it is a real eye-catcher.
Its price, right around $4,000, makes this ETA-based chronograph particularly interesting.
For more on soccer and watches, read Goooooaaaaaallll! Hublot Colorfully Kicks Off With The FIFA World Cup and three Kick Me Five! interviews with Alexandre Ghotbi of Vacheron Constantin, Michael Pearson of Bremont and Pascal Ravessoud of the FHH.