Purnell x Ballon d'or 2021

Lionel Messi Receives Unique Purnell Spherical Tourbillon Watch After Claiming 7th Ballon d’Or Award

At a Paris awards ceremony this evening, both the male and female winners of the prize for the world’s best soccer player were presented with unique timepieces made by Swiss tourbillon specialist Purnell.

By Steven Rogers

This evening, all eyes in the soccer world were on Paris as the winners of the 2021 Ballon d’Or awards were announced during a gala prize-giving ceremony held at the French capital’s Théâtre du Châtelet.

Since its inception in 1956, the Ballon d’Or has been regarded as the most sought-after individual prize in football. Initially a European-only affair, the annual awards were eventually expanded by organizers France Football to recognize the best soccer player in the world during the calendar year, voted on by international journalists, national team coaches, and their captains.

This evening, Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina maestro Lionel Messi picked up the men’s prize for an incredible seventh time, while Barcelona and Spain midfield ace Alexia Putellas claimed the women’s award, her first such accolade.

And not only did both footballers proudly hold aloft their golden soccer-ball-shaped trophies to generous applause from their peers, but both Messi and Putellas each received a unique watch. Made specifically for the event, Swiss tourbillon specialist Purnell has signed up to partner with the Ballon d’Or over the next three years.

The World’s Fastest Triple-Axis Tourbillon

Since it was founded in 2006, Purnell has only ever made tourbillon wristwatches. But five years ago, the Geneva-based brand took its tourbillon offering to another level when it unveiled what has been dubbed the world’s fastest triple-axis tourbillon the Spherion.

The Spherion has an inner cage that makes one full rotation in eight seconds, a secondary cage that takes 16 seconds to make a rotation, and an outer cage that rotates in 30 seconds. All done in the quest of improving the watch’s chronometric rate by averaging out positional errors due to gravity.

Developed by Eric Coudray (master of the multi-axis tourbillon and designer of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon), this spherical tourbillon design features eight Incablocs to help protect the triple cage and 3 Hz balance wheel within from shocks. It has also appeared before in Purnell’s Escape Primo WPM and in a spectacular double format as part of Purnell’s Escape II series of timepieces.

Purnell’s 2021 Ballon d’Or Unique Pieces

For both of its 2021 Ballon d’Or unique pieces, Purnell has essentially made bespoke versions of its mono-tourbillon Escape Primo WPM, each packing a delicious footballing twist.

As part of the custom design, the outer tourbillon cage is encased in polished 18K red gold. And with a weight of 4.14g, the resulting gold sphere is adorned with a patchwork motif of hexagons and pentagons – one of which is engraved with the France Football logo – so that it resembles a leather football as well as the design of the Ballon d’Or award. As per the rotational speed of the outer tourbillon cage, the football-shaped shell takes 30 seconds to make one full rotation.

While the tourbillon gloriously revolves in a semi-circular void in the bottom half of the dial, the rest of the blackened, openworked movement and the indications dominate the top half of the dial.

Engraved Mainspring Barrels

The movement in question is the 245-component Caliber P10 with a 50-hour power reserve supplied by two visible, manually-wound mainspring barrels that feature engraved text commemorating the new owner’s Ballon d’Or triumph and evokes the values shared between Purnell, Coudray, and France Football.

As for the indications, hours and minutes are displayed on a smoked sapphire sub-dial via hand-polished hands and hand-applied indexes, both gilded, while the power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock functions using a suspended, mobile cone mainspring “sensor.”

The entire ensemble is housed in a 15-component, 18K red gold case that is 48mm in diameter and water-resistant to 30m. Set into the caseband at 9 o’clock is a curved lateral window allowing for generous views of the mechanics within. At 3 o’clock the crown features a hemispherical cabochon with a hexagonal and pentagonal motif to look like a football. Additionally, the case is complemented by a black rubber strap with an 18K red gold pin buckle.

An Absolute Screamer

Finally, the movement and tourbillon can be further admired through the sapphire crystal display back. Meanwhile, around the edge of the caseback, Messi and Putellas will each have their name hand-engraved by artist Juliane Coulet, helping to make each of the stunning watches a unique, personalized piece.

Having scored an absolute screamer with its creations for this year’s Ballon d’Or awards, it will be exciting to see what Purnell has in store for the winners of next year’s top prizes.

For more information, please visit the Purnell website.

(Images © Joy Corthesy / Idiome Agency)

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