football, watches

Football & Watches

By Alan Boal

Pride & Pinion are proud to be shirt sponsors of Larne Football Club for the 2020-21 NIFL Premiership Season. To mark this exciting partnership, we thought we’d take a look at the relationship between football & watches.

David Beckham advertises them for Tudor & Breitling.

Cristiano Ronaldo owns the most expensive ever retailed by Rolex, an 18ct white gold $485,350 GMT-Master II ‘Ice’, plastered in a ludicrous 30 carats of diamonds.

José Mourinho commemorates his trophy wins with them: “I take my watch from my wrist and I don’t wear it again. Like people keep medals or shirts, I keep my watches. When I finish a season with a trophy, that season is represented with a watch.”

But, it’s impossible to talk about football & watches and ignore Hublot.

Official partners of the English Premier League, FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, Chelsea FC & Pele, and worn by countless others, Hublot are all over football like a rash. 

And what does that tell us, apart from confirming footballers tend to have poorer taste than a Coronavirus sufferer? Well, some watches people have to be paid to wear.

Let’s take a look at some interesting footballing timekeepers and suggest some alternatives to the ubiquitous Hublot.

Paul Gascoigne threw his Rolex out a window because he thought it was spying on him

One of football’s most talented players, ‘Gazza’ won 57 caps for England, but the scale of his genius on the pitch was perhaps matched only by his troubles and madcap behaviour off it.

During the peak of his cocaine use and suffering from extreme paranoia, the ex-Tottenham star said that “I had a Rolex and I threw it out the window because I thought it was listening to us.”.

Listen, Gazza, if you’re planning on chucking any more watches out the window, we suggest you make it something cheap and tough, like a G-Shock.  Or, actually a Hublot in this case.

Portadown FC relegated from the top division because they were 29 minutes late

In April 2008, Portadown FC – one of Northern Ireland’s top teams, a senior club since 1924, and champions just six years earlier – were demoted from the top flight Irish Premier League to the Championship because an almighty administrative blunder saw them 29 minutes too late in applying for a place in the new Irish Premiership being formed for the 2008-09 season.

Portadown’s hand-delivery of their application form for the revamped top flight was deemed ineligible after being received half an hour past the deadline, automatically condemning the club to Second Division intermediate status.

Fans of Glenavon FC, Portadown’s arch Mid-Ulster rivals, gleefully capitalised on the misfortune by creating a large stadium banner asking, ‘What Time Is It, Portadown?’.

For Portadown FC, there’s always the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox, a stylish watch containing a wholly-mechanical alarm ringer, meaning they need never be late for an appointment again.

Not so Nice - Striker Lamine Diaby-Fadiga stole a €70,000 watch from a team-mate

The best goalscorers often have impeccable timing, but French Striker Lamine Diaby-Fadiga received the red card from French Ligue 1 club OGC Nice after he admitted to stealing a €70,000 watch from his team mate, Danish international forward Kasper Dolberg.

Confessing to the theft ten days later after a Police investigation, Diaby was dismissed by the club. 

Not since Dutch Defender Winston Bogarde earned £8,000,000 for playing just 548 minutes in four years with Chelsea FC has there been a bigger robbery in football.

Poor Kasper. He should wear a Daniel Wellington or U-Boat from now on, safe in the knowledge nobody is likely to want to nick either of them.

‘Wrists of God’ - Diego Maradona wears two watches…until the Italian Police take them

Possibly the best footballer of all time, Diego Maradona starred for Barcelona & Napoli, and captained Argentina to the 1986 World Cup. Infamously, his first goal in the 2-1 win against England in the 1986 Quarter Final was a hand-ball, with Maradona claiming it was knocked past goalkeeper Peter Shilton by ‘the hand of God’.

When travelling, Maradona quirkily wears two watches, one on each wrist – one is set to local time wherever he happens to be, and the other to the time in his homeland, Argentina.

However, in 2005 he was ordered by the Italian authorities to pay €37m in unpaid taxes, owed from his seven-year stint playing for Napoli, before he fled following allegations of an illegitimate son and fraternising with the Camorra mafia, plus a playing ban for cocaine use. Maradona refused to pay, resulting in some difficult times when he has (rarely) returned to Italy.

So, in 2006, whilst appearing on Italy's version of the TV show Strictly Come Dancing, the Italians confiscated both his Strictly appearance fee and also two Rolex watches worth £9,000, as part of the debt. In 2009, they also took three diamond earrings, which they auctioned for £22,000 towards his tax bill. Ironically, Maradona had been in Italy to attend a weight-loss clinic, but it transpired he lost rather more pounds during his Italian trip than he’d perhaps planned.

Normally, we’d recommend Diego a nice Rolex GMT-Master II, a watch capable of displaying three times zones at once. But seeing as how he’d probably have it nabbed by the Italians, he’s better off with a £25 Casio World Time.

Irish FA President Jim Boyce finds a £16,400 watch in his garage

In 2014, controversy erupted around the Brazilian Football Confederation’s decision to provide gift bags containing Parmigiani watches worth £16,400 to FIFA executive committee members.

FIFA, the game’s ruling body that had awarded the World Cup to Brazil during the Summer of 2014, took a dim view of such extravagant gifts to football officials and demanded their return, deeming them in contravention of their ethics rules.

Boyce, President of the Irish FA and also Vice President of FIFA, was totally unaware that he had even received a watch, until he rooted out a bag resting in his garage at home following the furore: "How this can be construed as anything untoward is beyond me. I am also told they are worth $20,000, but it looks like something you would buy for a child."

For Jim, we’d probably suggest a Breitling Emergency - the world's first wristwatch with a built-in distress beacon to locate lost pilots & explorers, means it’s always easy to find in an emergency.

Swindon Town - the only club in the world to have Rolex’s name on their stadium clock

Swindon Town’s County Ground is the only football ground in the world with a Rolex logo on their clock. The Deacons Rolex Clock on the Stratton Bank stand was donated to the club in 1963 to celebrate promotion to the old Second Division. Swindon Town have said: “The Deacons Rolex Clock is not just unique in the UK but worldwide. No-one else has one.”

Hard to really recommend anything better for Swindon Town, but if they are looking to upgrade their clock, they should get one that has an added ‘Fergie Time’ function – named after the extra helping of injury time supposed given to help Manager Sir Alex ‘Fergie’ Ferguson when his Manchester United teams were losing and needed a goal.

A Timely Partnership: Pride & Pinion are 2020-21 Sponsors of Larne FC

Following a multi-million pound takeover by lifelong Larne FC supporter and Purplebricks co-founder Kenny Bruce, the ‘Invermen’ swept to the 2018-19 NIFL Championship title and secured a return to Northern Irish football’s top tier for the first time since 2008.

About to embark on their second season in the Irish Premiership following promotion, the Inver reds are fancied to cement their status as a vibrant new force in Irish football and mount a challenge for the title. For the 2020-21 season their shirts will be proudly sponsored by Pride & Pinion.

Pride & Pinion’s own success story also began in 2018, operating from The Merchant Hotel in Belfast as the only dedicated luxury watch boutique on the island of Ireland, since when the company has gone from strength to strength, being selected as a finalist for ‘Best New Business’ at the 2019 Belfast Business Awards.

Founded by Dutch-born Nico van der Horst, himself once on the books of AFC Ajax, the Netherlands’ most successful football club, the partnership with Larne FC furthers Pride & Pinion’s strong relationships within sport, and follows hot on the heels of their collaboration with another top local brand, Tayto crisps, in 2020’s nationwide ‘Time to Win’ promotion to give away a Rolex watch.

Looking for a luxury sports watch of your own? Make an appointment to visit Pride & Pinion’s showroom at the Merchant Hotel to see one of the finest watch collections in Ireland.

We have a very special Tudor Black Bay Chrono – one of only 21 ever made & given to match referees to wear whilst officiating at the 2019 Japan Rugby World Cup. Boasting Tudor’s in-house MT5813 Chronometer movement with a silicon balance spring, column wheel & 70-hour power reserve, the watch case back is also specially commemoratively engraved and comes with a signed referee jersey plus letter of authenticity. The perfect watch for a sports fan.


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