Welcome to the gilded world of Paris Saint Germain, a millionaire's playground that would make Croesus green with envy.
It's said footballers live like kings, but they also adhere to formidably strict regimes that cut off privileges which most people take for granted. I recall speaking to a PSG employee a couple of years back who explained how the big stars don't really have the freedom to enjoy much of Paris, citing an incident when one naïve newcomer was swarmed upon like fresh meat in a zombie movie after stepping out for a coffee. There is a colony of players that live in the capital's chic Neuilly-sur-Seine suburb, but Neymar, for instance, instead opted to house his rather large crew in a five-story property in the affluent outskirt town of Bougival, well hidden from prying paparazzi.
When much of the public is off-limits, what else is there to do other than play FIFA and shop? Part of the intrigue about PSG is not only watching them body teams on the pitch, but the obscene wealth circus of it. Cars, clothes, and houses are cool and all, but possessing a rare watch is another, more arcane form of flex entirely. Given the annual wage bill totaling over $350 million, there's plenty of wrist candy to go around.
As the PSG Galactico's revolution gets underway, we look at what timepieces the Harlem Globetrotters of football are wearing.
What he's wearing: Rolex Yacht-Master ref. 116655 Price: $27,000
What does the greatest footballer of all time wear on his wrist when signing a contract that will go down as one of the most shocking transfers in the history of sport? Like his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi has always possessed a flamboyant taste in watches, and has even come to partner with Jacob & Co. Understanding the gravity of the occasion, the GOAT sensibly left his bulky designs at home. Instead, he opted for something more sensible — not by Audemars Piguet, for whom he used to be a brand ambassador, but Rolex, and the relatively obscure Everose Yacht-Master.
Contract signing days are often described as brutal, with plenty of press duties and papers to be signed. Taking that into account, the comfortable Oysterflex rubber strap and durable ceramic bezel make the Yacht Master a sound choice for a hectic day. Given Messi's AP, seeing him wear a Rolex is kind of surprising, as if he were wearing a sports brand other than adidas. But change is afoot, and what better time to mark a new era with a bold new watch?
What he's wearing: Rolex Yacht-Master ref. 226659
Once adversaries who would literally go head-to-head with each other, Messi and Ramos are now not only teammates but watch buddies. Despite some highly questionable couples style, the former Real Madrid captain was seen wearing an Oysterflex Yacht-Master, preferring it in White Gold. At a mere $27,000, these are no doubt two of the more low-key options in both players' collections, and it's something of a surprising choice for a heavily tattooed firebrand like Ramos. Reading into the flat cap, perhaps he's mellowing in his twilight years.
What he's wearing: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116505
If the Yacht-Master is obscure, then consider the Daytona to be its opposite. The steel models are among the most sought-after watches of all time and waiting lists are often interminable. The best right-back in the world, however, doesn't have to worry about stuff like that. It's not the most original choice, sure, but this reference 116505 is ideal for busy footballers given it can be easily dressed up or down. Perfect, for when you have training at 6 am, followed by a fancy dinner at 1 pm.
What he's wearing: Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 116748SA
Donnarumma might have the most valuable hands in sprot, particularly after his exploits during Italy's successful Euro 2020 campaign in which he was named player of the tournament. Taking that into account, the giant Italian goalkeeper isn't about to adorn his wrist with any old thing. Walking out to greet the PSG fans for the first time, Donnarumma wore a Yellow Gold Rolex GMT-Master II, a watch known for its robustness. The 116748SA reference has a bezel set with rubies, sapphires, and diamonds, making it both an uber-rare and very expensive homage to his new club's playing colors. Still, when you've just penned a deal worth a rumored $70 million over five years, you can afford to treat yourself.
What he's wearing: Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5711/1R
A clown shoe covered in diamonds to a lot of people, Netherlands captain Wijinaldum really loves his iced out Patek and chain combo, having been seen rocking it as far back as his Liverpool days last year. It takes some doing to posses the gaudiest watch in a locker room that also includes Neymar, but this abomination is surely up there. As if the rose gold wasn't eye-catching enough, the bracelet, dial and bezel have been afterset (or customized) with diamonds. Unlike Donnarumma's factory set bling, this just looks crass. I'm sorry, Gini, but why? Leave the gross Nautilus game to DJ Khaled.
What he's wearing: Hublot Big Bang ref. 301.SX.7170.LR
Mbappé is no doubt making serious bank from his endorsement gig at Hublot, which is a nice bonus, considering he never fails to look fresh in their contemporary styles. The Big Bang Steel Blue he is pictured wearing above works well with the France national teams colors, and is a world removed from the excess demonstrated by the likes of Wijinaldum (how nice is that alligator leather strap?!). At the 2018 World Cup, the wonderkid from Bondy became the youngest player to score in the final since 1958. The last person to do so? Pelé, who also happens to be a Hublot ambassador.
What he's wearing: Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak Concept Black Panther Flying Tourbillon ref. 26620IO.OO.D077CA.01
Last but not least on the list is Neymar, and it will be no surprise to anyone that his weapon of choice just might be the most baller of them all. The Brazillian has an odd relationship with watches, and despite being the third highest-earning footballer on the planet, isn't shy when it comes to wearing a fake Richard Mille. Ney enjoys his superhero movies, and like LeBron James, Virgil Van Dijk, and the Weeknd, has fallen in love with AP's controversial Black Panther Royal Oak – the first in a series of upcoming Marvel-themed watches. The Brazillian enjoys matching his wristwear to his PSG gear, as he has done with this piece and the club's iridescent purple attire in the past.