Football legend and Tudor ambassador David Beckham recounts his most defining moments on and off the pitch

In a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, the British icon talked about his partnership and journey with the Swiss brand.

For over three decades, Beckham has constantly reinvented himself in front of the public eye, so one would assume he knows a thing or two about stepping out of comfort zones (All photos: Tudor)

David Beckham caused a fervid reaction among Malaysians when he posted an Instagram picture of himself — sitting on his haunches and smouldering into the distance, with the Petronas Twin Towers looming over him — in Kuala Lumpur early this year. Peeking out under his sleeve was a flash of red — or burgundy, to be specific. It was a watch from his day-to-day roster that enjoys a fair amount of wrist time nowadays.

“The Black Bay with a burgundy bezel is one of my favourites,” says the Tudor ambassador as he examines the 41mm steel timepiece. “The five-link bracelet is one of the most comfortable bracelets to wear. But you know, I’ve always been a lover of watches for the longest time.”

Surrounded by an intimate group of journalists from the region at Sentul Pavilion, the football legend was as cool as a cucumber, personally greeting all the writers before settling into his seat opposite the host of the evening, Nadia Heng. Beckham had just arrived from Pavilion Damansara, where he paid a visit to Tudor’s latest boutique in the city. Later in the night, he was set to appear at an exclusive event at Sentul Depot to talk about his partnership with the brand and its first state-of-the-art manufacture in Le Locle, Switzerland.

“It has been a really nice trip because I haven’t been here for a few years and this is my first time in Kuala Lumpur as a Tudor ambassador,” he says.

Founded by the visionary Hans Wilsdorf as a sister company to Rolex, Tudor is geared towards making watches for those with the most daring lifestyles, crafting companions that will aid extraordinary adventures on land, ice, in the air or underwater. Its high-profile ambassadors, including Beckham, New Zealand rugby team the All Blacks and “King of Mandopop” Jay Chou, are exemplary icons who each channel the brand’s Born To Dare spirit in their own way.


Tudor’s latest boutique at Pavilion Damansara spans 100 sq m and embodies the bold spirit of the brand

For those who have followed Beckham’s journey — or binge-watched his wildly successful docuseries on Netflix — this once-timid Leytonstone lad had a roller coaster of a career cut out for him. From Manchester United to Real Madrid, Los Angeles Galaxy and Paris Saint-Germain, his pivotal moments on the field have made him one of the most recognisable athletes on the planet. But he was also making waves off the pitch.

Beckham had a penchant for experimentation and was adventurous in his stylistic choices. Who could forget the iconic sarong he wore for date night with then-fiancée Victoria in 1998 or when he turned up at Euro 2020 sans his signature blond locks?

“I don’t know where it came from, in all honesty, because I grew up in the East End of London and there were not many people pushing the boundaries in fashion back then. Even when I was a young kid … I remember going to a wedding. It was one of my mum’s friend’s wedding and I was a page boy. So, I had to walk down with the ring. I sat with the bride and she asked, ‘What would you like to wear? A suit or knickerbockers with tights and a pair of ballet slippers?’ And I chose the latter. So I was always into fashion without knowing it,” Beckham recalls.

“And then, obviously, when I got a little bit older and was in Manchester, I pushed the boundaries a little bit more with what I wore and my hair. I changed my hair quite a lot. And people always used to turn around to me and say, ‘Why are you doing your hair? Is it for attention?’ I’m like, ‘No, I was bored this morning and I just shaved my hair off.’ And that’s how it really happened. My sons are actually doing what I did 20 years ago. So, it’s quite cute.”


Host Nadia Heng and Beckham at Sentul Pavilion

The kids are borrowing dad’s watches, too. “I can’t blame them. I’ll go in to get a special one and if it’s gone, I know exactly where it went. Mostly, it’s Romeo, but he has good taste.”

Beckham’s journey with Tudor started out rather serendipitously. Early one morning, he was strolling down Burlington Arcade alone, casually browsing the watch boutiques along the shopping gallery.
“I stopped at one of these shops that had some Rolexes in the window. I looked at one and thought, ‘I love that one. I’m going to go in and ask how much it is.’

“It was so beautiful and had everything I love about a watch. It had a blue dial and an old vintage leather strap on it. I walked in and said, ‘Can I see the Rolex there?’ And they were like, ‘It’s not a Rolex. It’s a [Tudor] Submariner Snowflake.’ And I was like, okay, I have to take this. So, that’s how it really started.” That Submariner is still in his stash.

Beckham says it felt “surreal” when Tudor asked him to be the face of the brand. “When I first started talking to the guys at Tudor, I knew straight away that it was a partnership and family I wanted to be a part of. They have pushed me in different directions where I probably felt uncomfortable, but I like to be challenged. So, it’s been a true honour.”

Speaking of challenges, there have been a few in his past career that were difficult, even for him, to square up to. He recalls two big ones. “I’d say when I got sent off in the 1998 World Cup. That was probably one of the biggest challenges because it didn’t just affect me, it affected my family as well, which was the toughest part.

“And the second one I would have to say was when I got a bad injury. I was lucky throughout my career and didn’t really get bad injuries. But when I got the ruptured Achilles, that was probably the only time when the surgeons turned around to me and said, ‘You might not play again.’ And that was quite difficult to hear.”


Beckham taking a selfie with some of the invited guests at the Sentul Depot event

Whether you are on team Becks or not, no one can deny his diligence and incredible work ethic. He credits this to his parents. “My mum and dad were hard workers. Dad was a gas fitter and was still working when he was 75 years old. Mum still does the odd hairdresser thing. So, I was brought up like that and the moment I retired — almost 11 years ago now, unbelievable — I jumped straight into launching the team in Miami because I didn’t want to sit still.”

Inter Miami CF is shaping up to be a real force to be reckoned with. With Beckham’s expertise, they are set to be among the league’s most ferocious teams in 2024. “One of the first watches Tudor gifted me was very special. It’s kind of a one-off Pelagos with a black face with the Inter Miami logo on it. I loved it so much that I had more made for the other owners of Inter Miami. So, that’s probably my most special watch I have from Tudor.”

For over three decades, Beckham has constantly reinvented himself in front of the public eye, so one would assume he knows a thing or two about stepping out of comfort zones. But what he wants to emphasise most is to “just enjoy the moment”.

“I’ve met some incredible children over the last couple of days and they asked, ‘What would be your advice to us?’ And I just said, ‘Enjoy it. Enjoy what you’re doing.’ They love football, so enjoy playing it. If you don’t enjoy playing football, then stop and do something else.

“But I think savour the moment, because we’ve all seen in the last five years the challenges that people, businesses and families have come up against. You’ve just got to enjoy the moment. And when you decide to go for something, go for it all the way, because that’s the only way to do it.”


This article first appeared on Apr 22, 2024 in The Edge Malaysia.

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