The Grandest of Watches Encroach on the Football Field

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Fancy watches aren’t just for golf and tennis anymore. But, players are discovering, what’s on your wrist might not result in emotional fulfillment.Published Sept. 21, 2019Updated Sept. 22, 2019, 6:44 p.m. ETImageWatch out! Odell Beckham Jr. plays on Sept 8.CreditRon Schwane/Associated PressWhen Odell Beckham Jr. of the Cleveland Browns took the field wearing a $190,000 Richard Mille wristwatch during a blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 8, the question was: Was he violating league rules, or just the rules of common sense? His decision to carry a work of fine Swiss art onto the field in a tackle sport seemed new and also a little bizarre — like a mixed-martial arts fighter carrying a Picasso sketch into a cage match. But Beckham’s much-dissected fashion statement was also emblematic of the big-money sports culture of 2019, in which eight-figure athletes increasingly flash six-figure watches as a branding opportunity for player and watchmaker alike.“A pop-cultural arms race has definitely emerged over the last decade or so when it comes to high-end watchmaking and top athletes,” said Stephen Pulvirent, the managing editor of Hodinkee, an influential watch site. “It’s become the norm now. And for most people, seeing a watch on the wrist of someone they respect and admire is a pretty powerful entry point to the world of high-end watches.”Even in football, a sport where players routinely wear — and sometimes lose — $50,000 diamond stud earrings during games, Beckham’s decision to wear a lightweight, Lamborghini-priced chronograph known as an RM 11-03 McLaren, stood out — and not just because of its head-turning strap rendered in Browns-helmet orange.For one thing, football players are not supposed to wear watches during games, at least according to a strict reading of Rule 5, Section 4, Arti

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