Athletes are often recognised for their incredible skills, whether on the greens, court, or football pitch, but what many don’t usually see is their equally respectable watch collection.
Expensive Swiss mechanical watches have no business being on any of these grounds, but it hasn’t stopped the world’s biggest athletes from coveting some of the rarest timepieces that money can buy. After all, we’d do the same if we were getting paid S$54 million per year like Cristiano Ronaldo.
As one of the highest paid individuals in the world, these athletes have influences that stretch far beyond athletic shoes and sports equipment; they’ve also become poster children for excessive luxury and over-the-top style — the perfect storm for an impressive watch collection.
From Michael Jordan’s Roger Dubuis to Conor McGregor’s limited edition Patek Philippe, here are the watches top athletes are sporting.
Ireland’s most famous athlete knows a good watch like he knows a class knockout. Produced for the 150th anniversary of Weir & Sons, one of Dublin’s most historic jewellers, the Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905P is the MMA superstar’s latest acquisition, and is quite possibly the most extravagant way of showing his patriotism.
Only 25 examples have been made to commemorate the 50-year partnership between the two brands. The chronograph’s colour of choice — a vibrant green dial and tonal alligator strap couldn’t have been more obvious as an Irish tribute, but it’s also a reference to the colour of the company’s early watch boxes.
Within its platinum case lies one of Patek Philippe’s most reliable workhorse movements with an annual calendar complication, all viewable via a sapphire crystal caseback. Of course, McGregor didn’t just snag whichever he could get his hands on; he specifically went for example number 12 as an homage to his Proper 12 whiskey.
If you earn as much as he does then it’s only a matter of time before you start dabbling in some serious watch collecting too. Cristiano Ronaldo expands his rare timepiece collection with a bespoke version of Girard Perregaux’s Planetarium watch, only instead of a boring 18k pink gold case it now comes swathed in baguette diamonds — even the bracelet.
Beyond the blinding refraction from these diamonds, the watch is an engineering feat, with a detailed 24-hour terrestrial globe, moonphase display, and tri-axial tourbillon all within its 48mm shell. The watch also sees two sapphire crystal domes that allow for its intricacies to be viewed at all angles.
Michael Jordan’s obsessive hunt for NBA titles could only be rivalled by his equally unquenchable thirst for watches, and it showed on ESPN’s blockbuster 10-part documentary, The Last Dance.
In early episodes, Jordan sports an elaborate Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pirelli, a titanium timepiece that’s just as big and bold as the basketball legend himself. Interestingly, the blacked-out titanium skeleton watch was inspired not by the court, but by Formula One racing, with a strap that’s actually made from the tires of a winning car. The S$122,000 timepiece isn’t the only outlandish watch MJ has in his arsenal; other notable pieces include a Urwerk UR-202, a Richard Mille RM-032, and a Ulysse Nardin Sonata.
Odell Beckham Jr. might not be a Richard Mille ambassador (yet), but the brand’s been getting plenty of airtime in the most unlikely of places: A football field.
The Cleveland Browns wide receiver was previously spotted wearing a S$284,000 RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph during a real NFL game, but later upped his game by taking his limited edition Tourbillon Sapphire out for a spin during warm-ups. The elaborate sapphire crystal watch — valued at a staggering S$2.87 million — takes nearly 1,500 hours to craft, and features a suspended movement within that’s just as complicated to fashion.
As a member of both the European and PGA Tours, professional golfer Rory McIlroy has plenty to keep track of, and chooses to keep time with one of Omega’s most innovative. The Seamaster Aqua Terra “Ultra Light” — as its name humbly suggests — is an extremely lightweight (only 55g) and sports-friendly mechanical wristwatch that utilises Gamma Titanium.
The S$67,600 watch is also made ergonomic with a push-in, push-out telescopic crown that not only makes for a more streamlined timepiece, but also prevents the crown from digging into the wearer’s wrist when not in use — especially useful for when wielding a golf club, we imagine.
Featherweight boxer Floyd Mayweather has been known to travel with an entourage of ridiculously expensive watches, but when he can’t decide which to wear he turns to his most expensive: A S$25.6 million Jacob & Co.
The 239 emerald-cut baguette stones on the watch each weigh up to three carats, totalling an eye-watering 260 carats in total. Train your eyes past the bling and you’ll notice Jacob & Co.’s Skeleton Manual Winding Caliber, a delicate work of horological art that features a tourbillon at six o’clock.