At the end of 2020, the British newspaper The Guardian published a list of the “100 best male footballers in the world in 2020”. The top five players on the list were Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne and Sadio Mane.
Not only do these top footballers get paid handsomely for their skills on the pitch, but their bank accounts are also boosted by lucrative brand endorsement deals. In fact, according to Forbes, three of the “10 highest paid athletes in the world” in 2021 are footballers – Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar (who just missed out on a spot on this list due to his ninth place ranking). Of course, we’d love to know which watches these elite athletes collect. Read on to find out about some of the luxury watches worn by the world’s top footballers.
1. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski, captain of the Polish national team and Bayern Munich striker, likes two luxury watch brands. Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet. For example, he chose to wear the Audemars Piguet Ultra-Thin Royal Oak Tourbillon (Ref. 26522ST) and his 18-carat pink gold Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph (Ref. 5980/ 1R-001) when he accepted the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award for 2020.
Another striking piece in the Lewandowski watch collection is the limited edition AP [Re]master01 self-winding chronograph (Ref. 26595SR), which he wore at the 2020 Global Football Awards ceremony in Dubai. The world’s number one footballer was also photographed wearing a two-tone Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph (Ref. 5980/1AR), a steel Nautilus Annual Calendar (Ref. 5726/1A), a steel Patek Philippe Aquatimer (Ref. 5968A) and a black ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar (Ref. 26579CE.OO).
2. Lionel Messi
Even in turbulent times, Leo Messi is still considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, having won the record for the most Golden Ball awards (six in total) and a host of other accolades. Messi, who is captain of Barcelona and the Argentine national team, is reportedly set to earn US$130 million between May 1, 2020 and May 1, 2021.
Throughout Messi’s illustrious career, we have seen him wear several different watch brands. Audemars Piguet launched the limited edition Royal Oak Chronograph “Leo Messi” collection in 2012 with 100 watches in platinum (Ref. 26325PL.OO), 400 watches in rose gold (Ref. 26325OL) and 500 watches in steel (Ref. 26325TS). In recent years, Jacob & Co. have launched a limited edition Epic X Chrono “Messi” collection comprising 180 watches in titanium (Ref. EC313.20.PE.LL.PE.AA.A) and 36 baguette diamond watches with white gold bezels (Ref. EC423.32.OE.LL.J).
However, the watch worn by Messi was not made in his name, but is the timeless rose gold Rolex Yachtmaster 40 (Ref. 116655) with a sporty black Oysterflex strap, a black ceramic bezel and a black dial.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
The world’s most famous footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo is the Juventus striker and captain of the Portuguese national team. In addition to his five Ballon d’Or awards and four European Golden Shoe awards, Cairo is also the most followed man on Instagram, with over 300 million followers.
The superstar is also an avid fan of high-end watches, with an extensive collection of watches that includes brands such as Girard-Perregaux, Hublot, Breguet, Jacob & Co. Franck Muller, TAG Heuer and Bulgari – among others. many of which are covered in diamonds, and – off pieces. For example, he wears the unique Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex Tourbillon “Sertissage Invisible” and the bespoke rose gold and diamond Girard-Perregaux Planetarium with its three-axis tourbillon.
Although Ronaldo’s watch collection features a wide range of brands, we favour his extensive Rolex watch collection. Ronaldo’s Rolex collection includes a pair of white gold Yacht Prestige II watches with platinum bezels (Ref. 116689) and yellow gold with blue Cerachrom bezels (Ref. 116688). He also owns at least two Daytona chronographs, one with a black dial in steel (Ref. 116520) and the other in gold with a mother-of-pearl and diamond dial (Ref. 116508-BMOPDO).
Ronaldo’s two Rolex Sky-Dweller watches – one in 18k yellow gold (Ref. 326938) and the other in eternal rose gold (Ref. 326935) – have garnered some pretty good wrist time, but it is his two GMT-Master II watches that have caught everyone’s But it was his two GMT-Master II watches that caught everyone’s attention. The first is a yellow gold GMT-Master II (Ref. 116758SARU) with a sapphire, ruby and diamond bezel that looks like the iconic “Pepsi” bezel. The other is the dazzling white gold GMT-Master “Ice” (Ref. 116769TBR), entirely set with diamonds.
4. Kevin De Bruyne
Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne was also a key player for the Belgian national team, helping the Red Devils to a third place finish at the 2018 World Cup, beating strong teams like England and Brazil.
So far, we’ve spotted De Bruyne wearing a Rolex watch on his wrist – and it’s a good one at that. De Bruyne is wearing a timeless rose gold Rolex Daytona (Ref. 116505) with a rose gold dial and black sub-dials. The Belgian star even wore his trusty Rolex watch when he signed a new five-year contract with Manchester City in 2018.
5. Sadio Mané
Sadio Mane, a winger for English Premier League club Liverpool and the Senegalese national team, once famously said, “Why should I buy ten Ferraris, twenty diamond watches, or two aeroplanes? What would these items do for me and for the world?” Instead, the football star would prefer to fund essential projects in his hometown of Bambari, Senegal, including the construction of a school, hospital and mosque.
He may not want 20 diamond watches, but Mane has at least one, the Rolex Datejust 41 two-tone steel and gold (model 126333) with a Jubilee strap and diamond indexes on a black dial.
6.The best footballers collect the best watch brands
Similar to many celebrity watch collections, the watch boxes of the best footballers were mostly dominated by Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, with Richard Mille and Hublot close behind and brands such as Jacob & Co. and TAG Heuer making several honourable appearances.
As athletes, it is not surprising that these professional footballers prefer sporting watches such as the Daytona, GMT II, Nautilus, Aquanaut and Royal Oak. Gem-set watches are also well represented here – factory-set, of course – with some stunning gem-set watches from Rolex, Jacobs and Hublot. Most of us will never reach the level of sport of these masters of the beautiful game – but we can cast our eyes over some of the top luxury watches they have chosen to keep in their collections.