I have a confession … I’m not a huge ‘sports fan’ – I like motorsport and that’s about it, however, I can fully appreciate the talent and hard work that goes in to becoming a top-level athlete (and by athlete, I mean pretty much any sporting competitor) – it’s a life dedicated to becoming the best at what they do, on sacrificing ‘normality’ for the sake of their professional career, of pushing and never giving up. All credit to them.
So when you see that David Beckham, or Rory McIlroy et al being given an ambassadorial role for particular brands, I feel that they’ve earned it, despite being a little jealous … who wouldn’t want a free luxury Swiss watch? Or three.
What sort of horological goodies could you expect as a world-famous sports personality? These are just a few from the very long list of ambassadors and fans – some are contractual, while others are genuine fans of the brand and their products.
Arguably one of the best tennis players of all time, Serena has shown time and again just what it takes to be number one, and as a result, she is now an ambassador for the Audemars Piguet brand. Often seen sporting the Audemars Royal Oak Offshore (Rose gold), but on occasion, she has also been seen with the Diamond Outrage watch/bracelet combination.
Of course, he never wears a watch while on track, but off track, for the fastest man in the world, it has to be the Hublot King Power Usain Bolt the watch he co-designed with the brand (and unlike many of their watches, it isn’t big, bold and brash).
I say that Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world, but technically, Felix Baumgartner might have a thing to say about that after freefalling at 1,342km/h (it kind of makes old Usain look a bit … pedestrian).
Along for the ride was the Zenith El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th watch, which coped admirably with the 39,045 altitudes.
The most famous football player in the world is a brand ambassador for many different companies, and until 2017, his choice of wristwatch was Breitling, just before Tudor bagged him for 2017 onwards. He’s also a genuine fan of Rolex, so it’s not uncommon to see him sporting either.
One of the greatest golfers of all time, Tiger Woods did have sponsorship with Tag Heuer until that incident, but now he prefers to choose Rolex for his ocean diving … his second favourite sport. He wears a Rolex Deepsea … “It’s a natural fit, I love the way it feels, it’s heavy, it’s sturdy, it’s very manly”.
One of the few sports personalities that actually wears his timepiece when playing, surprising really given that it’s a $725,000 Richard Mille watch. Eeek.
What would a list of sporting personalities and watches be without a motorsport reference? Lewis Hamilton usually wears a very understated watch – not all bling and bluster like the Hublot that Sebastien Vettel wears.
The IWC Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar is just one of a range of IWC watches that Hamilton wears on a regular basis, the other being the Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Antoine De Saint Exupery” – a beautiful (yet understated) traditional self-winder.
We all have influences in our life, be that in business, lifestyle or leisure, but given that the sponsorship industry is said to be worth tens of billions of pounds (motorsport sponsorship alone is a $5.75bn industry), it’s no surprise that big name brands are clamouring for the attention that a world-famous superstar can bring.
It’s not about being ‘the next’ David Beckham (substitute your favoured sports personality here), but about having that association, of knowing that your watch has been to the very edge of space, or that your favourite golfer wears the same model on their day off … brand association is a big thing.
Sure, for many of us, the thought of wearing a $725,000 Richard Mille watch is incredulous, something that we’ll never be able to make a reality, but it’s an aspiration, and what’s life without aspirations, dreams and goals?
Surely that’s what drives us onwards, that motivates us to carry on when things get tough, or just gives us something to aim for? You may never repeat the sporting success of your hero, but for a few pounds (OK, usually thousands of pounds), you can dress like them.