When Revolution interviewed José Mourinho towards the end of last year, there were already rumours aplenty that his time at Chelsea would soon come to an end. No real surprise considering Mourinho has not stayed at any club longer than three years, using his talents to fill trophy cabinets time and again before going down in a blaze of glory.
But what did come as a surprise to many on this occasion was the outpouring of support for the manager who, over two separate terms at the club had delivered, among other honours, three Premier League titles, the FA Cup, the FA Community Shield and the League Cup three times.
Journalist, lifelong fan and member of the Chelsea Supporters Trust Jason Gibbins remembers vividly the moment Mourinho exited the gates of Stamford Bridge for the final time in December 2015: “I sent a simple tweet to my rather pitiful number of 1,500 followers which read: ‘We sacked the best manager we’ll ever have. Again. Fear Stamford Bridge is going to be toxic on Saturday as fans turn on players.’ The fact it attracted more than 530 retweets suggested I’d struck a chord and, the following Saturday, the first game without José, so it turned out as Mourinho’s name rang around Stamford Bridge for much of the 90 minutes.
“José was far from perfect. He picked unnecessary fights, he challenged authority too often, he was not averse to giving his own fans a collective kick up the backside and he often spoke when silence would have spoken louder. But he was, without question, one of us. We love him and he loves us. Still present tense, not past.
“During the Roman Abramovich era, six permanent managers have been given the job of bringing the league title to Stamford Bridge. Just two got their hands on the prize. And just one, José, did it more than once – the enigmatic ‘Portugeezer’ leading Chelsea to three of the five titles in the club’s 111-year history. That’s three titles in just five full seasons in the Chelsea manager’s seat. That’s José, that’s the Special One.”
Partners in Time
And these are the qualities that led CEO Ricardo Guadalupe and Hublot to join forces with the Special One – a name that, despite claims to the contrary, Mourinho assures Revolution was bestowed on him by the British press – making the emblematic football manager one of their most recognisable ambassadors and creating to date, two special-edition timepieces with him.
A long-time lover of watches, Mourinho was already familiar with Hublot, a brand he gravitated towards naturally: “I go to the shops and I read watch magazines – Revolution for example is one that I have read for a long time now,” says Mourinho, with a wry smile. “But it was my management that brought us together formally. Working with other brands is a part of my life outside of football, something that I want to enjoy rather than worry about. The people that work on this for me know that I like to be connected with brands and things that I have a real passion for and they know that I love watches.”
Like many men, Mourinho sees a watch as “jewellery for a man” saying, “I don’t like rings, bracelets or necklaces – I wear no jewellery except a wedding ring. But I have always liked watches and I used to buy Hublot watches for myself, so my partnership with the brand is perfect because I feel part of it. It’s not just ‘let’s sign a contract and force a connection for a couple of years and then goodbye’. A paid ambassadorship is not the point, that’s why I like it and that’s why it works.”
Unveiled during Baselworld 2014, the King Power “Special One” has a whopping 48mm diameter case in either titanium (250 pieces) or King Gold (100 pieces) with a unique dark blue, carbon-fibre bezel. The rubber inserts for the push-buttons and crown plus the counters, hands and minute track are in the same blue, as is the alligator-leather strap. And, in case you are in any doubt of whose watch this is, Mourinho’s signature sprawls across the case back.
As anyone who knows Mourinho’s management style would expect, the man himself participated fully in the creation of the watch that bears his name – the King Power “Special One”. For Mourinho it couldn’t be as simple as choosing an existing Hublot model and putting his signature on it. “No, it took time and trialling and thinking about what I like in terms of the size, the weight, the colours, the materials. The guys at Hublot and I decided everything together step-by-step. The colour blue was important and I think my watch was one of the first with blue carbon. I like to feel a watch when I am wearing it so weight is important. And it also needed to be relevant to my job – the chrono function is something that I absolutely need.”
And Mourinho proved to be an excellent design partner, thanks to his meticulous eye and years of experience in buying watches as well as his hunger to create the perfect timepiece. “I have liked watches all my life. The problem was that I didn’t have enough money to spend on good watches so I had to wait for a special moment when I started managing and earning a good salary. I remember that moment came when I won my first UEFA Cup Final and I bought a great watch to celebrate.”
The Meaning of Time
Mourinho’s personal relationship with time is a tricky one and he says that ideally his days would contain at least 30 hours to allow him to get everything done. “Twenty-four hours are just not enough,” he shrugs. “I wake up at 7 o’clock, go to work, come back home at 5pm and then I have to do everything before the end of the day – family, friends, study, sleep. I have to cut back somewhere. Family is the most important thing, and I can’t take time from work because that is fundamental. I also have to study – to analyse my day and prepare for the next one. So normally it is my resting time that I miss out on – but I try to compensate on other days.”
Luckily it is easy for Mourinho to keep track of his time as today he owns many timepieces, ranging from dress watches through to huge chronographs. But for the past five years his passion has been for sports pieces. On the day we meet, Mourinho’s personal King Power “Special One” is taking time out on the subs bench. “I have one but I don’t want to wear it all the time because it is special and I want to keep it. I wear it for a few months and then I put it away for a while.”
And “putting it away” is something he does often, “retiring” the watches that he wears during any major wins. “Some people keep medals or this or that. Players often keep their boots or shirt. For me it is the watch I was wearing or the pen that I used to take my notes during the game. It’s not a superstition as such, it’s just to remember the moment. I win a final or a championship and the watch I am wearing finishes work.”
This chapter of the Hublot/Mourinho story has to end with an exchange I had with Ricardo Guadalupe: Will we see a new King Power “Special One”? “Yes, of course,” he confirms. “Not this year, but soon. Those watches sold out so quickly. Even today people ask for one but it is impossible.” And, as we go to press with more rumours abounding that Mourinho is about to sign with Manchester United, my final question remains unanswered, although it was greeted with a smile and a twinkle in Guadalupe’s eye: With the next “Special One”, might we see red accents instead of blue…?