Who will prosper in the battle of the pitch-side wrist-wear?
No prizes for guessing the official timepiece of the 2018 World Cup Finals – Hublot has been a branded licensee since 2010 – but what's changed is the off-the-ball incidence of its watches on the touchline – notably amongst those coaches keen to get a little of its horological hardware on their wrists (or the chance to take home a golden keepsake of their own should their run not extend to the final on July 15th).
And as we head into this weekend's crunch cup ties, it's worth noting the prevalence of a timepiece originally made available to FIFA officials during the 2017 Confederations Cup and 2017 World Cup qualifiers – the brand's first 'smart watch', the Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. A name which, you'd have thought, told you all you might need to know about this particular model, but falls some way short of describing all its functions.
Offering 32 dial designs – useful for those squad leaders wishing to personalise theirs with team colours – and easily interchangeable strap options, the watch is equipped with Androidwear capable of running thousands of apps alongside a slew of dedicated competition functions. But not - alas – the goal-line technology available to match officials wearing its namesake 'professional' version.
Hublot was one of the first watch brands to focus on the world of football when it sponsored the Swiss national side back in 2006, to which it's subsequently added the titles "FIFA Official Watch" and "FIFA Official Timekeeper" (for which it supplies the branded referee boards that pop up with alluring frequency to show substitutions and any additional minutes of extra time.)
So who will prosper in the battle of the pitch-side wrist-wear? Of course, in the world of football, as in every other area of human endeavour, 'other watches are available'. But judging by the frequency of its appearances, the Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia is looking like the 'ticky-tocky' watch to beat.
The manager of France congratulates Antoine Griezmann - with an Hublot Big Bang strap in team colours (naturally)
The England coach has cut a decisive figure in his three-piece and Hublot Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
The Swedish football coach goes it alone with a steel chronograph of indeterminate make. Which might well spell disaster....
Going for "Magic Gold" – the Belgian coach wears an Hublot Big Bang Unico
The Uruguayan coach goes against the horological flow by wearing a G-Shock
The Russian coach hugs goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev – wearing his Hublot Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Another horological outlier – the Garmin-wearing Croatian football manager Dalic