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The importance of watches in the world of sport

From tennis to Formula 1 when an accessory becomes essential to compete at its best

The importance of watches in the world of sport From tennis to Formula 1 when an accessory becomes essential to compete at its best

Perception of the watch as a representative element of personal status has a history of over a hundred years. If at first pocket models were the emblem of well-being, since – in the 19th centuryPatek Philippe created the first example of a women-only wristwatch and shortly after Louis Cartier conceived the first model with a leather strap, pocket watches have been almost completely replaced.

As the time went by, the luxury watch market has experienced a significant expansion and, despite its limited accessibility, has become very varied and lively. For several years now, the great watchmaking houses have been working on the building of a detailed storytelling around their products, aiming to recall activities, environments and an imaginary able to influence the audience they are targeting. In particular, being able to take advantage of the sports showcase is the goal of many brands.


Professional timing has always been an essential component of Formula 1. The absolute precursor in terms of sponsorship is TAG Heuer, which today collaborates with the Red Bull Racing Team and especially in the 60s and 70s was to be considered a real institution on the racing tracks. Jack Heuer personally brang his chronographs to the pits around the world, with emblematic names such as Autavia (for cars and aviation), Monaco and Carrera. Hublot – much younger as a brand – has been sponsor of the Ferrari team for years, with unique models such as the Big Bang Ferrari 1000 GP of 2021 or the Big Bang Ferrari Unico Carbon Red Ceramic, worn on the wrist of multiple world champion Sebastian Vettel. Richard Mille, instead, works on avant-garde watches custom made for sportsmen, technically of the highest level, indeed they can also be worn during matches by icons such as Lebron James and Rafael Nadal. In 2021 it also started a partnership with drivers such as Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso and Mick Schumacher.



Fine watchmaking anyway has also been closely linked to tennis for a long time. The cooperation between Richard Mille and Rafael Nadal is probably the most positive one in the world of racket: as evidenced by the traffic on online platforms, in correspondence with the matches of the Spanish phenomenon – fresh winner of his 22nd slam – the attention for this brand grows significantly. American champion Serena Williams, also one of the greatest players ever, is a long-time partner of Audemars Piguet, of which she has shown off some of the most beautiful models on the field over the years, such as the Royal Oak Offshore. In the end, impossible not to mention Rolex, the famous Geneva manufacturer who is also the main sponsor of Formula 1 and of many of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world, such as the Laver Cup, the Davis Cup and the four Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open). Furthermore, Rolex has always focused heavily on the sponsorship of absolute tennis icons, from Rod Laver to Björn Borg, up to the all-Swiss partnership with Roger Federer. The Basel champion wore a wide variety of models to celebrate the victories that have marked his long career, such as the Rolex Datejust II and Rolex Day-Date II exhibited on the grass of Wimbledon in 2009 and 2012 respectively after the triumph in the final or as the Yacht-Master II and the Sky-Dweller.



From this point of view, tennis and Formula 1 are ideal stages for the watchmaking brands to tell their story and show themselves through their models. In fact, these are sports which, while enjoyed by large audiences, are characterized as sport of cry: events with a purely glamorous soul, the season of tournaments and GPs that lives through different countries and cultures, VIPs of all kinds that populate the stands and the paddock and athletes with solid personal branding behind them.