The Grandest of Watches Encroach on the Football Field

The Grandest of Watches Encroach on the Football Field

Golf stars like Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie and Rory McIlroy regularly sport big-ticket watches by Rolex and Omega during tournaments. Golf, after all, tends toward the aristocratic end of the sports landscape, with a C-suite fan base. And unlike, basketball, the game unfolds languidly over the course of an afternoon, free from the pressure of flashing shot clocks. Theoretically, it makes sense that golfers might want to elegantly monitor the time from their own wrist as they meander the back nine.

Tennis, too, is a sport where it has become routine to see Roger Federer — a native of Basel, Switzerland, the home of Baselworld, the world’s biggest watch fair — flashing a glimmering Rolex each time he hoist a Grand Slam trophy. (Federer has long served as a brand ambassador for the luxury Swiss maker).

Rafael Nadal, too, has transformed from global tennis star to walking billboard for Richard Mille by showing up at big matches with watches that cost as much as a suburban split-level house. This includes the lightweight RM 27-03 Tourbillon, priced at $725,000, that he wore while winning the French Open in 2018.

Plutocrat-worthy timepieces have become such an inextricable part of tennis culture that Serena Williams rocked a rose-gold Royal Oak Offshore by Audemars Piguet for her recent debut on a Wheaties box.

But watches also rule in soccer, a global obsession — and marketing juggernaut — with an estimated 3.5 billion fans.

Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese star, has 184 million Instagram followers, making him the most followed celebrity in the world, beating out Ariana Grande and Beyoncé. And, as a paid pitchman for Tag Heuer until recently, “there is not a private plane he steps on, or abs-revealing Speedo he slips on, without being watch-clad,” said Roger Bennett, a host of the popular soccer podcast “Men in Blazers.”

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