In most parts of the world, this past summer was markedly dominated by the FIFA World Cup. As the world’s most visible sporting event in terms of supporters, fans, audience and fees ommanded by players, luxury watchmaking was naturally not far behind in t
In the year of the FIFA World Cup, we look at the connections between watches and the beautiful game.
Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s highest paid football player; Forbes estimates that he earns US$80 million per year in salary and endorsements. The Real Madrid forward is naturally not without watch endorsements and has been associated with three different luxury watch brands over the course of the last 12 months. The limited edition Franck Muller Perpetual Calendar BiRetro Chronograph was made especially for him in 2012, a showy, complicated watch that goes well with his fashion style. Just before Baselworld, he was involved in a massive advertising campaign for Jacob & Co.’s Ghost Watch. Finally it comes to light that Ronaldo is now an official ambassador for TAG Heuer; he reportedly wears the 50th Anniversary Chronograph Carrera.
Argentina’s star player Lionel (Leo) Messi is often called the world’s best soccer player, though he comes in behind Ronaldo in sports earnings according to Forbes: in fourth place to Ronaldo’s second with US$64.7. 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.
Audemars Piguet has made a limited edition Royal Oak model in honour 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.
According to Forbes, the third-highest-paid retired athlete is David Beckham with annual income of US$37 million. Surely this has something to do with the 38-yearold’s great fashion sense and good looks. Indeed, he remains one of the world’s most famous footballers even if he retired from professional soccer in 2013.
His personal 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 sports a Breitling for Bentley B05 Unitime in the Swiss brand’s advertising. This particular model is powered by the automatic in-house B05 calibre, 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.
Brazilian soccer legend Pelé comes in tenth on the Forbes list of highest-paid retired athletes with annual earnings of US$15 million. No wonder, for the 77-year-old was in hot demand this past summer as a spokesperson for a host of products during the World Cup month. Including Hublot, the main sponsor of the World Cup, who created limited edition watches for football players, teams and associations far too numerous to mention here. Hublot has naturally created several soccer-related limited
editions celebrating soccer’s biggest event, including the official watch of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil: the Big Bang Unico Bi-Retrograde Chronograph. This timepiece was especially developed so that the wearer can time each 45-minute half of the game.
Swiss brand Carl F. Bucherer sponsored both Swiss national goalkeeper Diego Benaglio as well as the whole Swiss Football Association (SFV) during World Cup play. In their honour, the Lucerne-based brand turned the robust Patravi ScubaTec into a tribute watch sporting a number of symbolic soccer-related elements: red and black for the association’s corporate colours, engraved soccer players gracing the dial, and the SFV’s logo at 6 o’clock on the bezel. The case back is engraved with a soccer ball and the name of the Swiss national soccer player that is the watch’s recipient.
In previous years, IWC sponsored Germany’s national team with official special edition DFB (German football association) watches in 2008, 2010 and 2012. As the DFB decided to stop the official partnership for “strategic reasons,” some of the German players decided to order unofficial “2014 editions” for themselves anyway. They chose the Portuguese Yacht Club in stainless steel, which they purchased and had personalized themselves as a symbol of solidarity. World champion Germany’s national coach Joachim ( Jogi) Löw very visibly wore his as he directed the team from the sidelines.
A number of the world champion team’s players are part of London’s Premier League football club Arsenal F.C.: Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski to be exact. Thus, they also get the chance to wear JeanRichard’s Aeroscope Chronograph Arsenal. JeanRichard is the global partner and official watch partner of the world-famous club and has made two special editions: the first is an 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 featuring the Arsenal Gunners’ canon logo at 6 o’clock.
Lionel Messi’s club, FC Barcelona, also has an official watch partner: Maurice Lacroix. Three special editions in honour of this big partnership have just been revealed in the Eliros, Pontos S and Masterpiece Squelette lines. They are available at retail from October.
The timing partner of Manchester City is none other than Richard Mille. Above and beyond that, the cuttingedge Swiss brand also boasts soccer legend Roberto Mancini as an ambassador. In creating a special edition watch – the Richard Mille RM 11-01 Roberto Mancini – Mancini chose to collaborate on a new design for the RM011. The technical modification allows it to display match time based on two 45-minute halves. If there is overtime (and there always is), the flyback chronograph can handle that too.
Speaking of legends, Hautlence introduced former French national player Eric Cantona as its new ambassador. Cantona and Hautlence are currently designing a special-edition watch together, which will likely have blue on the dial and is destined to be presented at the brand’s ten-year anniversary celebration in Neuchâtel.
Marking the World Cup in Brazil, Parmigiani Fleurier became the official watch sponsor of the CBF, the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol: the Brazilian football association. And it created a collection of 42 mm Pershing chronograph 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 colours: gold, blue, and green. Highly unusually, there is also even a ladies’ model among the collection.
L e f t to r i g h t: J e a n R i c h a r d ' s T e r r a s c o p e wi t h G u n n e r s c a n o n ; t h e C a r l F . B u c h e r e r S c u b a T e c SF V ; R i c h a r d M i ll e R M 11 - 0 1 R o b e r t o M a n c i n i ; H u bl o t ' s B i g B a n g U n i c o B i - R e t r o g r a d e C h r o n o g r a p h , t h e o f f i c i a l wa t c h o f t h e FIFA Wo r l d C u p 2 0 1 4 ; A u d e m a r s P i g u e t R o y a l O a k L e o M e s s i L i m i t e d E d i t i o n