The crown jewels of the King of Football? Messi rocked a Patek Philippe Aquanaut chronograph in Miami

Widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time, Lionel Messi has already conquered the US in his first few matches in Major League Soccer after joining the Inter Miami CF owned by David Beckham. While Messi’s phenomenal performance on the pitch is captivating, the wristwatch he chose to wear prior to his game has also fascinated the media.

Among Messi’s extensive collection of statement watches, which is his favourite of late? The answer goes to the chronograph by the prestigious Swiss watchmaker – Patek Philippe.

Ahead of a recent match with Inter Miami, Messi was spotted wearing one of Patek’s most desirable sports watches – a white gold Ref. 5968G Aquanaut Chronograph with a striking blue dial. Priced at US$75,700, the wristpiece has been fiercely sought after by watch aficionados and fetched over HK$1 million (around US$127,460) at auction last year.

Messi taking on multiple defenders in Major League Soccer

Messi showing up on the pitch with his Patek Philippe Ref. 5968G

Patek Philippe white gold Ref. 5968G Aquanaut Chronograph|Suggested retail price: US$75,700

The Aquanaut, one of the youngest collections in the long history of Patek Philippe, was first introduced in 1997 – a move by the heritage brand to appeal to a younger audience. As the first-ever instance of a Patek with a rubber strap, the Aquanuat in stainless steel has been one of the entry-level models of the brand.

Over the past two decades, the Aquanaut has evolved into a multi-faceted line with variants encased in diverse materials and equipped with complications including a flyback chronograph and perpetual calendar. Among the Aquanaut family, the steel Ref. 5968 launched in 2018 is the first to feature a flyback chronograph complication; as a sibling to the steel version, the Ref. 5968G sported by Messi was released in 2021, with a bold 42.2mm case crafted in white gold.

A Ref. 5968G white gold wristwatch with blue dial appeared in Messi’s Instagram post in June 2022

Another white gold Ref. 5968G Aquanaut Chronograph was sold at HK$1,760,000 at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2022

Back in June 2022, Messi was already wearing this white gold Ref. 5968G with blue dial while kissing his wife Antonela in a photo he shared on Instagram.

Despite its retail price of US$75,700, it is almost impossible to purchase the model from the Patek official retail store – unless you are a VIP. One example of this Aquanaut flyback chronograph appeared at Christie’s Hong Kong in May 2022 and realised more than threefold the list price at HK$1.76 million (around US$225,640).

Messi was photographed with Audemars Piguet’s limited edition Royal Oak Chronograph in 2012

Messi sported a Patek Philippe rose gold Ref. 7968/300R-001 Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” Chronograph in his official debut with Inter Miami last month

Patek Philippe rose gold Ref. 7968/300R-001 Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” Chronograph|Suggested retail price: US$212,900

As a former ambassador of Audemars Piguet and Jacob & Co., Messi has favoured Patek Philippe on various occasions this year – including his official debut with Inter Miami last month, where he rocked a Patek Philippe Ref. 7968/300R-001 Aquanaut Luce “Rainbow” Chronograph priced at US$212,900.

Featuring a colourful rainbow gem-set design with 40 multi-coloured sapphires, complemented by a white mother-of-pearl dial and an easy-to-wear 39mm rose gold case, the new member of the Aquanaut Luce is specifically marketed to ladies – but it seemed just perfectly suited for Messi.

As a special edition rolled out last year in celebration of the Aquanaut’s 25th anniversary, the Ref. 7968/300R-001 has been traded for about US$455,000 on the secondary market, and may potentially achieve an even higher price when it goes up for auction in the future.

Messi rocked a platinum Ref. 5270P-014 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph with lacquered green dial at the Best FIFA Football Awards in February this year

Patek Philippe platinum Ref. 5270P-014 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph|Suggested retail price: US$218,820

In February this year, Messi sported another spectacular watch by the Geneva manufacturer – a platinum Ref. 5270P-014 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph – when he was crowned The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2022 in Paris.

Debuted in 2011, Reference 5270 belongs to Patek’s Grand Complications collection and demonstrates the brand’s ultimate craftmanship with its versatile complications such as perpetual calendar, instantaneous 30-minute counter, day/night and leap year indicator as well as moon phase display.

The Ref. 5270P-014 worn by Messi is a new generation of the reference that only hit shelves last year; featuring a lacquered green dial with a gradient black effect, the chronograph is listed for US$218,820 on the brand’s website.

For interested horologists, a piece of Ref. 5270P-014 went under the hammer at Christie’s Hong Kong in May 2023 and was sold marginally higher than its retail price at HK$1.64 million (around US$209,000).