It’s only been off our TV screens and back pages for 8 weeks or so, but the 2017/18 English football season kicks off again this coming Saturday August 12th. With it comes an annual £1 billion goldmine of a business keeping football (soccer) fans supplied with the latest replica kit so as to support their favorite football club. US owned Manchester United alone sells over two million shirts a year.
A fresh new look each season is essential so that dedicated fans can keep on having new kit to shell out for so as not to look ‘last year’. It also gives football clubs a lucrative merchandising arm to help pay the massive wage bills of their superstar footballers.
In the last 25 years, the percentage of clubs changing their home kit at the start of every season has doubled to almost 100 per cent. Statistician Dr. Chris Stride of Sheffield University, who conducted research into the rise in popularity of British replica football kit said: “Though most clubs now change their home shirt design every season, changes usually consist of just minor details, small flashes, collar styles or trim. The innovation in football shirts has shifted from design to marketing tactics.”
Sadly, while there have been valiant attempts by some Swiss brands along the way, the same fascination for football club shirts – both official replica kit and club inspired leisurewear – does not appear to extend to club watches.
It seems there is little appetite for a good quality supporters’ watch among football fans otherwise clubs would surely be offering them. Proof, perhaps, that outside of the watch crazy confines of watch blogs and forums, more and more people are happy to get by with merely telling the time from their smartphones in between snapchatting and tweeting.
Or could it be the case that if the clubs made more effort to offer a decent quality watch, they may actually excite fans into making a purchase. Here’s a round-up of watches from six Premier League clubs.
Manchester United have by far the best offering in terms of watches. Recently they launched two new 2017 models to mark its partnership with Manchester United F.C. TAG Heuer is the club’s Official Timekeeper and Global Partner. The watch comes complete with a 42mm black PVD case, a quartz movement and a bi-injection strap with red flashes. There are apparently plans for TAG Heuer to strike up partnerships with other clubs. Price: £1,311.
JEANRICHARD AEROSCOPE ARSENAL FC CHRONOGRAPH WATCH
JeanRichard announced its global partnership with London’s Premier League Football Club Arsenal in March 2014. The struggling Swiss brand also launched a limited edition of its Aeroscope Chronograph sports watch in support of the team known as The Gunners. The JeanRichard Aeroscope Arsenal FC Limited Edition has a 44-mm case of micro-beaded, sandblasted black titanium and a bright red dial with a stamped honeycomb pattern. The watch, powered by JeanRichard’s automatic JR66 movement, is a chronograph and also features a small seconds’ hand in the shape of the Arsenal club’s iconic “cannon” logo. Alas, this watch is no longer available.
Instead there is this 41mm £125 limited edition watch with the number engraved on the back of each watch. It’s a stainless-steel chronograph watch with a Japanese quartz movement and genuine leather strap.
It seems chronographs are popular with football fans, even if our model looks a little non plussed. This one from Rotary for Chelsea FC was issued as a limited edition to celebrate the club winning the Premier League in May of this year. It’s described as a perfect symbol of sport fusion and innovation, paying tribute to London’s leading football club. Again, each watch is individually numbered, and features the Chelsea FC Blue Lion crest, Royal Blue detailing, a Chelsea FC embossed caseback, and a Rotary certificate of authenticity. Price: From £395
No one said club watches have to be tasteful. This officially licensed chronograph runs on a quartz movement. The five stars at 12 o’clock represent the club’s 5 European Cup wins. There is also the Liverpool ‘Liver Bird’ on the dial. The caseback features the club logo. Price: £159
Manchester City, or Man City for short, is owned by Sheikh Mansour, one of football’s wealthiest owners, with a family fortune exceeding $1 trillion. But when it comes to offering fans club watches, this £30 silicone strap quartz watch is what’s on offer, together with a few other low budget models. No wonder our kit model is looking away in disgust!
It’s another ‘insert your name here’ chronograph on offer, this time in plated rose gold. The watch runs on a quartz movement, and it’s the top of the line offering from the North London club known as ‘Spurs’. Price: £125
Based on the uninspiring selection on offer here, there’s surely certainly plenty of potential for a brand to come along with an exciting and relevant watch offering to get football fan’s pulses racing.