Feature: These World Cup Captains’ Watch Collections Will SHOCK You!
The captains of the 32 teams competing at this year’s World Cup finals in Qatar will be looking to lead by example both on and off the pitch.
On the pitch they’ll be belting out the national anthem with teary-eyed pride, bossing their teammates, and ensuring they stick to the tactics discussed in the pre-match pep talk.
Off the pitch they’ll be steering well clear of scandal, attending endless press conferences and—it goes without saying—flaunting some very impressive watches.
Because let’s face it, as the leader of a team of millionaires playing in a tournament watched by billions, you don’t really want to be wearing a $50 plastic Casio. Not when everyone around you has a tourbillon on their wrist.
Also, this isn’t just any old World Cup. It’s the first time the event has come to the watch-obsessed Middle East, where wealthy sheikhs own as many Richard Milles as they do underpants, and the shopping malls are filled with every luxury watch brand you can think of.
Here are five captains appearing at Qatar 2022 whose wrists, from what we already know of their watch collections, will be worth zooming in on…
Virgil Van Dijk, Netherlands
The Netherlands captain's collection features some seriously high-end pieces. Image: Ailura
Great name, even greater watch collection. With a salary said to be around £240k a week, Netherlands and Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk can pretty much buy whatever watch he wants. And he generally does.
His collection is… well, insane, and the man clearly has some industry ‘contacts’. How else do you explain a line-up that includes an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Black Panther Tourbillon, of which only 250 exist in the world? He’s also got an open-worked Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in black ceramic, another mind-blowing piece.
AP's Royal Oak Concept Black Panther Flying Tourbillon. Virgil means business!
That’s well over a million dollars’ worth of watches right there. But we’ve barely started. Virgil is a fan of another of the so-called ‘Holy Trinity’ brands: Patek Philippe. He’s been seen wearing an Aquanaut on a red rubber strap to match his club team’s colours, and a Nautilus 5990/1A-001—a dual-timer that’s ideal for those matches abroad.
Other watches include a Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Batgirl’ and a Richard Mille RM 17-01 Tourbillon, a model that’s also been spotted on fellow Premier League player, Jamie Vardy.
Eden Hazard, Belgium
Eden Hazard is a Richard Mille devotee, owning two from the avant garde brand. Image: Fars Media
A quick Google search of Eden Hazard delivers a plethora of photographs of the Belgium winger wearing some attention-grabbing watches.
Granted, his collection includes a slightly predictable two-tone Patek Philippe Nautilus 5980. However, Hazard also reveals a flamboyant streak of which Elton John himself would surely approve.
Firstly there’s his outrageous Richard Mille ‘Evil Eye’ RM 26-02 Tourbillon—Ed Sheeran owns one, too—whose dial features a snake’s eyeball peeking out from lacquer-painted sculpted flames in solid gold.
Eden Hazard owns two Richard Milles, including this RM 26-02 Evil Eye Tourbillon
His other Richard Mille is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser, too, as it’s the rectangular RM 016 from 2019, a watch that stands out among the brand’s signature tonneau-shaped models. There are unadorned versions in both pink and white gold but, naturally, Hazard’s features a white gold case set with factory diamonds.
As for Rolex, he takes the maximalist approach. No plain Jane Oyster Perpetuals here. Hazard owns an astonishing Daytona ‘Eye of the Tiger’ model, boasting a gleaming 18k yellow-gold case, trapeze-cut diamonds on the bezel and black lacquer and diamonds on the dial, all set on an Oysterflex strap. They love their bling in Arabia so this will go down like a hot falafel.
Robert Lewandowski, Poland
The Polish goal machine has refined taste for a footballer. Image: Svetlana Beketova
On the day he was officially presented as a Barcelona player, former Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski was spotted wearing an AP Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in black ceramic (retail price: a cool $325k ). Whether he bought the watch especially for the occasion we don’t know, but it’s a nice thought.
Lewandowski has come a long way, both as a player and a watch collector. Not that long ago he was pictured wearing a comparatively modest two-tone Breitling Chronomat. Sadly for the Breitling, we can’t see it getting much wrist time now that he owns some of the most desirable watches around (no offence to Breitling).
As well as a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5980/1R, ideal for wearing at black-tie awards ceremonies, he owns the more casual white-gold Aquanaut 5968G with khaki dial and strap.
Lewandowski owns a magnificent AP Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra Thin with plum dial
In ‘Pole’ position, though, if you’ll excuse the pun, is his AP Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra Thin, a pretty special piece released in 2022 to celebrate the model’s 50th anniversary. He owns the more conventional blue-dial version, not the newer one in a vibrant shade of plum, but we’re sure he’s fine with that.
Luka Modric, Croatia
Modric keeps things relatively modest with his penchant for Rolex. Image: Svetlana Beketova
Midfield maestro Luka Modric dons the captain’s armband for Croatia and he’s well-known for being an industrious but humble player—unflashy, low-key, a man immune to the silly haircuts and even sillier fashion choices that afflict the 21st-century footballer.
Unsurprisingly, then, Modric’s watch tastes are equally low-key—well, for a footballer anyway. Favouring utilitarian sports watches, Modric is obviously a Rolex man, with two versions of the GMT-Master II in his collection: a ‘Pepsi’ on a Jubilee bracelet and its blue-and-black-bezel sibling on an Oyster bracelet. He also owns a Daytona in white gold (reference 116519LN) and a Submariner in white gold (reference 126619LB), the coveted model with the black dial and blue bezel that gets most Rolex fans salivating.
Modric's Submariner is the in-demand white gold 126619 LB
He is partial to the odd Patek, though, occasionally wearing an Aquanaut 5968A-001 or his show-stopping Nautilus Perpetual Calendar 5740/1G-001, a white-gold beauty that retailed for almost $120k when first released a few years ago and now sells for up to triple that on the pre-owned market.
It's no surprise that Neymar goes for flamboyancy in his watches. Image: Kirill Venediktov
As well as the daunting responsibility of leading a country that is always expected to excel at the World Cup, Neymar bears the burden of being the most expensive footballer on the planet. French club Paris Saint-Germain paid Barcelona £190 million for the striker in 2017, meaning he’s had brick-sized wads of cash to throw around ever since.
When you have a $4.5m Lamborghini Veneno and a host of other supercars parked in your garage you need the watches to match, and Neymar doesn’t disappoint. A big fan of the Crown, he owns a number of sought-after Rolex models including a Daytona in Everose gold, GMT-Master II on a Jubilee bracelet (aka the ‘Batgirl’) and the famous SARU version of the GMT whose bezel and dial are festooned with diamonds, sapphires and rubies—the apex of Rolex sports models.
The RM Cyril Congo edition encapsulates Neymar's playing style with its colour and finesse
Obviously no footballer of such staggering wealth can go without a Richard Mille. Neymar owns a rare RM 68-01 Tourbillon, a multicoloured collaboration with the French-Vietnamese street artist Cyril Congo who hand-painted many of the movement components of each of the 30 watches.
Let’s hope Neymar’s performances light up the World Cup the way his watches surely will.