Wimbledon Style: Tennis Stars & Watches
With Wimbledon kicking off later this month, all eyes will be on Centre Court and the new Wimbledon Champions for 2013. Last year, we saw world record breaker Roger Federer scoop the top spot, sporting a stunning Rolex Day Date when he lifted the winning Singles trophy, alongside Serena Williams who came top for the ladies.
For many years, watch brands have played a key role in Wimbledon, so we take a closer look at the relationship between tennis stars and their watches…
For tennis fans, the final week of June means only one thing: copious amounts of Pimms, occasional downpours and world class sporting entertainment at the Wimbledon Championships.
As Roger Federer and Serena Williams head to the precisely manicured lawns of SW19 to defend their English Grand Slam titles, it must be noted that the world’s most prestigious tennis event is made possible by the support of one of the world’s finest watchmakers.
Take a look at the scoreboards on Centre Court or No. 1 Court, and you will see the name of the tournament’s official timekeeper since 1978: Rolex.
The luxury marque — founded in England in 1905 — is one of the biggest supporters of professional tennis, and its relationship with Wimbledon is one the longest standing in sports sponsorship history. Evidently, Rolex’s values of tradition, quality and “evolution through continuity” align perfectly with the ideals and pedigree of the time-honoured lawn tennis tournament.
The association of luxury watchmakers and the pro tennis circuit, however, runs much deeper than tournament timekeeping. Here are the wristwear choices of some of biggest stars in the game…
The current world number one has no less than six luxury sponsors, including MercedesBenz and Bombardier, who produce a £46m Learjet. Since 2011, the Serbian has been an ambassador of Audemars Piguet, the Swiss artisans responsible for the iconic Royal Oak.
Whenever Djokovic holds a trophy aloft, he does so with an AP piece on his wrist. According to the Wall Street Journal, the £850,000 Grande Complication he wears is among the most expensive endorsements in sports.
Wimbledon 2012 winner and women’s number one Serena Williams may not be a luxury timepiece fan — she wore a £15 Casio calculator watch during last year’s tournament — but world number two Maria Sharapova is a fan of a brand with a renowned sporting heritage, TAG Heuer.
The world’s best-paid female athlete says her favourite TAG Heuer piece is the sporty 37mm Steel and Ceramic Diamonds.
The man who some call the greatest tennis player of all time was once an ambassador for a relative newcomer to the luxury market, Maurice LaCroix. In 2006, however, the Swiss legend paid a “breakup fee” to end his contract with the producers of the highly vaunted Masterpiece collection to begin his long-standing association with Rolex.
No one has won more Wimbledon gentlemen’s titles than Federer, so who better to wear than the English tournament’s preferred manufacturer?
The 17-time Grand Slam winner wore a steel Rolex Daytona after his first Wimbledon win in 2003, and an exceptional Oyster Perpetual Day-Date II when he lifted the trophy last summer.
Incidentally, his relationship with Maurice LaCroix wasn’t helped in 2005 when he forgot to put on his watch whilst celebrating with the Wimbledon trophy. By coincidence, his frequent final opponent Andy Murray almost did the same thing during his first Grand Slam win last September at Flushing Meadows, when he failed to locate his Rado D-Star chronograph.
Rolex is also a popular choice among the world tour’s female contingent. Not only is the Geneva-based watchmaker the preferred brand of French Open winners Li Na and Ana Ivanovic, but also former world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.
The Dane has been wearing a Rolex at major tournaments since 2010, but prior to that, she had her own collection with Copenhagen-based watchmaker Rosendahl. The dial of the CW8 features her signature and the number eight, her lucky number.
Very few of the luxury watches sported by elite tennis players are actually worn during games, but Rafa Nadal’s choice of wristwear is a notable exception.
The Grand Slam-conquering Spaniard has worn the extraordinary creations of Richard Mille since the 2010 French Open, when he debuted the limited edition RM027 Nadal. The £375,000 tourbillon piece weighs just 20 grams including the strap (the movement itself weighs just 3.83 grams) and is made from carbon composite, titanium and a lithium alloy usually used on aircraft.
Richard Mille have now released an updated model, the RM 27-01 Nadal, which weighs 19 grams and is built to withstand 5000Gs of force.
Look closely and you will note that Nadal wears his Richard Mille pieces on his right wrist during play. The natural left-hander then switches it to his left wrist off the court.
Sadly, fine watches do little for Nadal’s timekeeping skills: he is notorious for turning up late to matches and other professional engagements!