If not for the coronavirus pandemic, Wimbledon would have concluded this week. In some alternate universe, the winners, dressed sharply all in white, are being applauded while holding up a trophy or a big fancy plate. They’re probably wearing a couple of great watches, too. That’s because the worlds of watches and tennis have been conjoined for decades, as brands have attempted to align themselves with the sport’s country-club status and its ultra-marketable stars. Beyond the sport’s aesthetic appeal and luxury veneer, the sport is a perfect stage for timepieces because they can actually be worn during matches. The trend started all the way back in the ‘80s when Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Andre Agasssi wore their Ebel models on the court. Today, Nadal famously wears his Richard Mille during play, while Serena Williams racks up majors in Audemars Piguet. But no player has benefited from the watch world’s love affair with tennis quite like Roger Federer, who struck a deal with Rolex way back in 2006, and has amassed a world-class collection since.
Roger Federer’s Rolex GMT-Master II “Batman”
Practically every grail watch Rolex collectors have slobbered over in recent memory has been seen on Federer’s wrist. In 2011, he arrived at a press conference wearing a Rolex Daytona “Big Red,” while after winning the 2017 Australian Open, he put on the above “Batman” GMT. Photos like these are exactly why Rolex pays the Swiss legend: Federer basking in victory, holding a trophy aloft with his watch in plain sight, is about the quickest way you can connect your product to excellence. Rolex burnishes its brand by being in the right place at the right time. When Mercedes Gleitze swam the English Channel (the second time), she wore a Rolex Oyster. When Edmund Hillary mounted Everest, he wore a Rolex. Now, when Fed climbs to the top of the proverbial mountain in his sport—which he’s done more than anyone else in the history of the sport—he wears a Rolex.
Rafeal Nadal’s Richard Mille RM 27-03
There’s a saying in the sports world that the best ability is availability—that all the talent in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t stay on the court. The phrase applies to watches as well. It’s nice that Federer can show off his pieces before and after matches, but Nadal can wear his while applying a beatdown. The Richard Mille RM 27-03 is specially engineered to handle the force of Nadal’s swings, and light enough to not distract the obsessive and ritualistic Spaniard. The design, too, which features the color of the Spanish flag, is done just for Nadal.