When you’re a 25-year-old footballer earning upwards of £100,000 a week, a standard luxury replica watch can feel a little pedestrian. As Esquire UK’s Finlay Renwick writes in this illuminating story into the lifestyles of football’s elite: “For the best and boldest in Europe, your run of the mill Big Bang, Nautilus or Submariner just won’t cut the Colman’s. They’re after something a little more unique.”
The man they go to in such circumstances is Matthew J. Jones, the man behind MJJ Exclusive. As the CEO and creative director, the 30-something’s day-job involves kitting out playboys, Saudi royals and footballers with watches and jewellery custom-made to their personal specifications. Suffice to say, this isn’t an area where the “less is more” mentality tends to hold sway as this gold, diamond and sapphire replica Rolex Datejust made for Liverpool midfielder Naby Keïta suggests.
“I’d say 95 per cent of our business is to order,” Jones tells Esquire. “A player will come to us and we can create pretty much anything they desire. We’re actually working on a world first at the moment, a watch that is made completely out of sapphires.”
Jones’ client list includes some of the best players on the planet including Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric, Liverpool’s lethal forward Sadio Mané and Spain’s visionary playmaker David Silva.
Arsenal winger Nicolas Pépé ordered a blacked-out Patek Philippe Aquanaut, Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino went for a custom HYT and gold Rolex Sky-Dweller (amongst others), while Crystal Palace striker, Michy Batshuayi plumped for this head-turning perfect fake Rolex Datejust covered in black DLC with a sapphire bezel and a purple dial swarming with bats.
Jones estimates that the company receives up to 30 new enquiries each single day. “I’ve learnt that if you look after players, they’ll look after you,” he told Esquire.
“We speak to these guys every day on WhatsApp. We know if their girlfriend’s birthdays are coming up, we know if their mum’s birthdays are coming up. We can pre-empt them if we start creating projects that they might want.”
Jones credits Mauro Icardi, the former Inter Milan captain now at PSG, for helping MJJ Exclusive become football’s go-to bespoke jeweller. “I got a call from Icardi and he wanted 25 diamond copy Rolexes,” says Jones.
“We added initials, colouring, the full diamond set for the entire team, they loved it! Off the back of that there was a kind of spiral of customers asking for the bespoke treatment. We’re using different precious stones and different colours and different things that people wouldn’t normally risk.”