Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal – three great champions who have all etched their names into Wimbledon folklore. But who won the grand slam of the wrist candy during this year’s tournament? Tennis, after all, is a game in which space and time can seemingly be defied by skill and imagination, not unlike the challenge of making a fine wristwatch.
First up, Rafael Nadal, who sadly had to pull out of the tournament due to an abdominal tear. His well publicised haute horological bromance with Richard Mille means that he regularly tears around the court while wearing a $1 million RM 27-04. The watch, which was specially made for Nadal after striking up a friendship with Mille, weighs just 30 grams and is the lightest tourbillon in the world. Its baseplate and ridges are made out of Grade 5 titanium, a substance that combines lightweight with resistance, and is more commonly used in aeronautics
Steel cable criss-crosses the face not unlike the strings of a tennis racket and acts as shock absorber for the delicate mechanism inside. Both men are famous for smashing performance records and defying the laws of tennis and engineering. Even so, it was once considered odd for an elite tennis player to wear a watch on court, let alone one as expensive as the RM 27-04. Today, it’s all part of the show business of tennis.
The marriage between Djokovic and Hublot was consummated late last year when he started wearing a custom blue Big Bang MECA-10 with its signature mix of micro blasted titanium case and rubber strap, for off court appearances. One of the biggest free agents in sport, it was always something of a mystery why Djokovic’s wrist was still a bachelor, given that Nadal has Richard Mille and Federer his long term relationship with Rolex. The battle for wrist space on sports celebrities is one of the most keenly contested in the watch business. Unlike the red carpet, in which all kinds of odd contortions are required to showcase the watch, on a tennis player you can see it at all times loud and clear. What every brand is looking for is the money shot of the player lifting a trophy while wearing one of their watches. The Djokovic partnership has already paid off, with player, victory and brand partnership coming together at Wimbledon for a match made in centre court heaven.
But despite not actually playing a set of tennis at the tournament, the award for the most spectacular centre court flex at Wimbledon this year goes to Roger Federer and his Rolex Cosmograph Daytona bedazzled with orange sapphires. This limited edition remix of the famous watch was ‘silently’ released this year, which means it was not made available to any old rich person, but instead discreetly offered to legends only, like Federer. We did not know a single thing about this watch until we saw it at centre court last week. Rolex’s ‘silent’ releases never make it into a store or even website and are often famous models like the Daytona or Yacht-Master smothered with coloured diamonds. This one-off curio looked especially cool against the backdrop of Federer’s perfectly tailored dark blue suit.