On the ball

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 January, 2011, 12:00am


The festive season usually provides at least some of the following: an embarrassing incident at the office party, weight gain, hangovers, presents that nobody would want and, of course, a glut of English Premier League football.

Men in Hong Kong, and almost everywhere else, are obsessed with it, and given the game's all-pervasive popularity, it was inevitable that watchmakers would seek to board the gravy train.

Anyone who has passed through Chek Lap Kok airport or ridden on the MTR recently would have noticed the billboards of Michael Owen promoting Tissot timepieces. An odd partnership one would think, given Owen's declining status as a player and his reputation for being, well, a bit dull.

However, the fruits of this union have given us the Tissot PRC 220 (above). Restricted to 4,999 pieces (one presumes Owen got to keep the 5,000th watch), the PRC 220 automatic is rather chunky but a classic, clean and uncluttered watch. Despite the lack of fuss, the face has a couple of nice touches, such as the oversized number seven, denoting Owen's shirt number, and the 'T' at the bottom of the second hand. The transparent back of the watch has a little more going on, with Owen's signature, his squad number again and a drawing of a football. The Tissot PRC 220 is priced at about US$500.

Hublot took the quickest route to associating itself with football and success, by sponsoring Premiership giants Manchester United. To celebrate its tie-up with the club, the brand launched the Red Devil Bang (top right) in November 2008. The watch comes in red and black, Manchester United's signature colours, and the red devil of the club's logo takes centre stage on the face.

A sporty watch, the Red Devil Bang has a ceramic bezel and a 45-minute chronograph, so you can time each half of a match. The Red Devil Bang is the ultimate status symbol for the Manchester United fan because each of the remaining pieces from a limited edition of 500 will set you back more than US$20,000.

IWC has linked up with former world footballer of the year Zinedine Zidane, having created the Big Ingenieur (below) watch with the Real Madrid icon. Limited to 500 pieces, each costing US$13,000, the Big Ingenieur is IWC's second collaboration with Zidane and, thankfully, doesn't have the French footballer's face etched on to the back, as the previous one did.

What this meaty watch does have is an enlarged number 10, Zidane's shirt number, and red numbers 27 and 45 on the chapter ring, denoting the minutes at which Zidane scored to win the 1998 World Cup for France. Allez les Bleus!