The FIFA World Cup 2022 is in full swing with upsets, drama and surprises at every turn. With Saudi Arabia getting an unexpected win over one of the favourites, Argentina and Japan beating Germany, it’s all kicking off. And in the midst of it all stride veritable titans of the game, star players who rally the fans and make magic happen. However, we’re a watch magazine so it would be remiss of us not to ask the question, which World Cup star player has the best watch?
Let’s take a look at eight legendary players and find out, starting with the watch at number eight.
8. Kylian Mbappé – Hublot Spirit of Big Bang King Gold
I don’t want to lean into stereotypes but let’s be honest, this wouldn’t be a list of footballers’ watches without at least one Hublot present. Repping the Spirit of Big Bang King Gold after his match against Australia was Kylian Mbappé. Hublot are known for their large, sporty designs and urban aesthetics as well as huge brand recognition, making them popular choices for athletes.
The Spirit of Big Bang in particular sees lots of representation because of its similarity to other iconic watches such as Richard Mille. Mbappé’s version has a 42mm case made from Hublot’s King gold, making it bright and eye catching on the wrist, similar to the world cup trophy itself. It’s powered by the Calibre HUB4700 and costs £37,100.
7. Gareth Bale – Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10 King Gold
Immediately we have another Hublot and it’s another Spirit of Big Bang, although this time it’s the Meca-10 King Gold edition. It’s distinguishable from the chronograph model due to its black skeletonised dial and absence of pushers. Plus, Meca-10 has a distinctive power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock celebrating its 10-day power reserve. However, the broad design of the case with its tonneau shape is the same as Mbappé’s.
The movement that provides that stellar power reserve is the HUB1233, which has been specially desigined with that reserve in mind and so only has hours, minutes and seconds displays. Housed in all its skeleton glory inside the enormous 45mm case. It’s priced at £39,800, making it even less accessible than the Chronograph version.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo – Jacob & Co. Flight of CR7
Ronaldo, whose star player status is as untouchable as his ego, has stepped up and launched a watch in collaboration with Jacob & Co. so it’s little surprise to see him wearing it at various events in Qatar. While there are two designs in his new collection, he’s been seen with the one called Flight of CR7, which is made from rose gold and features an image of him performing a header. As far as statements go it’s certainly a loud one. Ronaldo isn’t just here to play – he wants to secure his legacy as the greatest of all time. We’ll see of other players on this list have anything to say about that.
Flight of CR7 is powered by the Calibre JCAM45 with 48-hour power reserve and a skeletonised balance. As for price, the diamond bezel edition is £121,506, making it one of the most expensive watches in a list of expensive watches.
5. Kevin de Bruyne – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph
While Kevin de Bruyne plays for Belgium, his watch proudly displays the colours of Man City. Specifically, it’s an Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Chronograph with a blue petite patisserie dial and white subdials. The Royal Oak is an iconic design from Gerald Genta and is famous for its octagonal bezel, visible screws and integrated bracelet. Its icon status makes it extremely desirable, especially in the worlds of football and hip-hop.
It has a 41mm diameter case in stainless steel and houses the automatic movement Calibre 2385 with 40-hour power reserve. It currently goes on the grey market for around £50,000-£60,000.
4. Neymar Jr. – Rolex Daytona Ref. 116518LN
Brazil had a strong performance in their opening game against Serbia with Richarlison nabbing a spectacular, windmilling volley goal. However, the star player everyone looks to on the Brazilian team is Neymar Jr., who was seen sporting a Rolex Daytona in a black and gold colourway in the run up to the event. The Cosmograph Daytona is one of the most prestigious sport watches in history, making it a genuine icon. However, traditional colourways such as the panda and Paul Newman are the most sought after, which is why Neymar’s gold edition isn’t ranked higher here.
The Ref. 116518LN has a 40mm diameter case and houses the Calibre 4130, which has a 72-hour power reserve and an accuracy of -2/+2 seconds per day. It’s priced at £24,550.
3. Lionel Messi – Rolex GMT Master II
Honestly, this entry is ranked very highly just because it’s a witty bit of product placement that makes me laugh. Lionel Messi is the stars in adverts for Pepsi and so his watch of choice is the Rolex GMT Master II Pepsi – product placement just about subtle enough that you might not notice it. For the uninitiated, Rolex GMTs are often known by nicknames derived from the colours of their two-tone 24-hour bezel. You have the black-and-blue Batman, the black-and-brown Root Beer and this, the red-and-blue Pepsi Cola.
It has a 40mm Oystersteel case on an oyster bracelet. Inside, it contains the Calibre 3285, its specs are similar to the Daytona above with a 70-hour power reserve and insane accuracy. Although, of course, it features a GMT function rather than chronograph.
2. Harry Kane – Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5980/1R
Now, now, let’s not have any cries of bias. Yes, Harry Kane might be the captain of the England squad but he’s second on our list for the merit of his watch alone. It’s a real stunner: the Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5980/1R. A full rose gold Nautilus with a black dial featuring a chronograph with superimposed 12-hour counter and 60-minute counter. Stylistically, it prominently displays all the facets that make the Nautilus a true grail watch, with its porthole shaped dial, horizontal engraved lines and thick bezel.
Measuring 40.5mm in diameter, it’s the ultimate expression of sports luxe design, although steel Nautili are generally more sought after. It’s powered by the Calibre CH 28-520 C/522 with a 55-hour power reserve, wound by a 21k gold rotor.
1. Virgil van Dijk – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Blue Ceramic
At the top of the pile is Virgil van Dijk, star player for the Netherlands, who has one of the most eye-catching watches launched this year, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Blue Ceramic. It’s the most impressive piece of haute horology on this list, with the ability to tell the time, date, day, month, moonphase, leap year and week with insane accuracy for practically a century without adjustment.
Plus, the ceramic is exceedingly difficult to work with, especially when producing a coloured version, making the case a statement in and of itself. It has a 41mm diameter case with the collection’s signature octagonal design, powered by the Calibre 5134 with 40-hour power reserve. It costs CHF 129,000 (approx. £112,000).