‘Top-performing celebrity sportsmen and women have been recognised as a branding opportunity by many luxury goods companies who are eager to sponsor them through lucrative endorsements deals. In addition, thanks to these collaborations many high-profile athletes have developed a taste for fine horology and continue to spend their hard earned paychecks on often rare and lavishly finished watches.’
It is well known that successful athletes are among the best paid individuals in the world. Top-performing celebrity sportsmen and women have been recognised as a branding opportunity by many luxury goods companies who are eager to sponsor them through lucrative endorsements deals. In addition, thanks to these collaborations many high-profile athletes have developed a taste for fine horology and continue to spend their hard earned paychecks on often rare and lavishly finished watches.
The Formula 1 superstar has been an IWC brand ambassador since 2013. A self-proclaimed watch aficionado, Hamilton has fully embraced his partnership with the Swiss watchmaker. He’s been spotted wearing not one but numerous IWC pieces. In 2014, he designed his very own limited edition watch, the Ingenieur Chronograph Edition ‘Lewis Hamilton’. Since then, he has continued to attract the attention of watch and racing enthusiasts by sporting numerous popular IWC models. Notably, this includes a limited edition IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun in 18k yellow gold with a yellow gold dial. Usually available in black ceramic, this one was customised especially for Hamilton. The overall effect is extravagant to say the least. Yet, it perfectly complements Hamilton’s overall style and has come to be regarded as one of his staple pieces. If there is any other watch that he wears with greater frequency, it has got to be the Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month. With its impressive case diameter of 49mm, the Aquatimer’s bold combination of 18-carat red gold with a blue dial makes it simultaneously sporty and luxurious.
The now retired English track and field athlete, Jessica Ennis-Hill, has earned herself the honourable position among distinguished Omega ambassadors. She has usually been associated with a sporty and understated style. However, she indisputably has a keen eye for detail. In an interview for Harper’s Bazaar, she admitted that she loves to pair a laid back outfit with a dazzling watch. As such, her favourite timepieces consist of the Omega Ladymatic collection. She admires the line for its feminine elegance and versatility. Her latest favourite is a gorgeous rose gold Constellation with a diamond dial.
Andrew Murray is among the most successful tennis players of his generation. Like many other well-performing athletes, his talent has been recognised by numerous companies. Among them was the Swiss watchmaker Rado, who entered a sponsorship with Murray in 2012. Although the collaboration has now ceased, Murray had became associated with their D-Star 200 model, wearing it at almost every public appearance. The watch features a large 42-44mm stainless steel case and comes with a thin blue or black ceramic bezel. Since Rado watches were originally designed with diving in mind, Murray’s D-Star 200 boasts an impressive water resistance of around 200m.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is a professional golf player and another member of the Omega ambassador family. He has served as an Omega brand representative for the last few years. Since, he has significantly enlarged his watch collection. In the early days of the collaboration, the Aqua Terra GMT was among his absolute favourites. One could even go as far as saying that it was his lucky watch, for it accompanied him at his most important and successful matches. In 2014, he received an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600m for winning The PGA Championship. However, his most recent notable Omega watch is the Seamaster Aqua Terra Golf. Boasting a Co-Axial calibre 8500, this unique watch was developed specifically for golf players. Its simple dial ensures easy readability, while the green details of the minute and second track serve as subtle references to the golf course.
Conor McGregor is not only famous for being a successful martial artist and boxer. He is also a well-respected watch enthusiast with a truly exceptional collection of timepieces. He owns bold and extravagant pieces from a variety of luxury watchmakers. However, Rolex appears to hold a very special position among his genuine favourites. Most frequently, he has been seen wearing models such as the Yacht-Master II, Perpetual Day-Date 40, Sky-Dweller Perpetual, and Cosmograph Daytona, just to name a few. Apart from possessing almost every model from the Rolex watch family, McGregor is also a fan of Patek Philippe’s Nautilus and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, which he owns in numerous finishes.
While athlete and watchmaker partnerships are becoming increasingly popular, it is evermore interesting to see unsolicited watch choices. These watches seem to reflect the personality and spirit of the athletes, sometimes more so than the watches of their endorsement deals. Nonetheless, watch brands will continue to turn to a well-tested way of showing off their models by exposing them to publicity and fame that inherently traits the world sports.