Ever since Rolex became the official timekeeper for Wimbledon back in 1978, luxury watches and tennis have been the perfect match. Performance and pedigree proudly displayed on the wrists of some of the most noted and successful tennis champions of all time – at the end of the day, it just makes sense, and brings more than just a tinge of flair and character to the court.
It’s no wonder that the tennis world is full of brand ambassadors for some of the most revered watchmakers in history, from Serena Williams and Audemars Piguet to Rafael Nadal and Richard Mille. Whether they are exclusively made, or publicly available, it’s always worth paying attention to a player’s wrist – you’ll spot some of the most coveted brands around.
To give you an idea of just how deep the ties between tennis and luxury watches go, here’s a list of current Grand Slam champions who have their own brand preferences and have been spotted on and off the court representing some of the finest in the industry.
Simona Halep & Hublot
Two-time Grand Slam champ Simona Halep has been close with Hublot for many years now, constantly spotted switching through the brand’s watches. While her collection is quite obviously vast, she has been known to wear the likes of the exquisite Big Bang One Click Italia Independent Dark Blue Velvet – easy to spot thanks to its 39mm polished ceramic case set with 42 diamonds – worth roughly US$20,000 (~AU$26,000), as well as the Big Bang Sang Bleu Titanium, which is equally pricey at US$18,800 (~AU$24,500).
Ash Barty & Rado
Australia’s very own Ash Barty hooked up with Rado to produce the Rado HyperChrome Ashleigh Barty Limited Edition at the end of 2019, with only 123 pieces made. Most noted for its eye-catching glimmer, the pure-white timepiece was designed to reflect the uniforms of Wimbledon, recalling Barty’s very first junior Grand Slam win. Polished white ceramic has been used for both the 36mm case and the bracelet, which is finished with a deployant clasp for a comfortable and accurate fit. The bezel around the case is responsible for the trademark pearlescent glow, fitted with 60 diamonds around the circumference of the mother-of-pearl dial. The case is kept tight and trim with the use of a reliable quartz movement.
Roger Federer & Rolex
Name a legendary Rolex that hasn’t been across the wrist of tennis legend Roger Federer. You can’t. He is, after all, an ambassador for the brand – a role he has served well since 2011. That’s two years after he was first spotted flashing a white-gold Yacht-Master II at the 2009 French Open – perhaps the first time a tennis superstar has worn a watch primarily built for sailors, naval ready with its regatta timer complication and flyback function.
Other new watches from Rolex that have been spotted on Federer during some of his biggest matches include a Day-Date II, Everose Gold Edition, the Datejust 41mm, a GMT-Master II, and the Rolex Sky-Dweller. Federer is so important to the crown, rumour has it Rolex helped his wife Mirka source a ‘Concours quality’ Paul Newman Daytona for his 30th birthday.
Serena Williams & Audemars Piguet
Serena Williams’ passion for luxury watches is obvious, given she’s been an ambassador for Audemars Piguet since 2014. The brand has accompanied Serena on numerous big wins throughout her career, from the Royal Oak Offshore she sported during the first year of the partnership, to the rose-gold Millenary she wore in 2017, which featured a white alligator strap and petite diamond accents on the bezel and the lugs. She has such a clear, genuine love for the brand that she’s even been seen sporting the watches off the court, like at the 2017 Met Gala where she was spotted with a unique Diamond Outrage, or the more recent 2019 Met where she wore a diamond-set Royal Oak alongside her husband’s CODE 11:59 Automatic Chronograph.
Novak Djokovic & Seiko
Japanese watchmaker Seiko has been intimately tied to the dominant (and polarising) Novak Djokovic since 2014. Shortly after they began collaborating, Seiko rolled out special ‘Novak Djokovic’ limited-edition Astron timepieces, most recently seeing a 2020 expression based on the standard Astron SSH019J1. For this particular piece, of which only 1,500 were made, Serbia is represented with an eye-catching shade of blue for the dial, blended with white and red to represent both the Serbian and Japanese flags. The 42.7mm case is the definition of wrist presence, while pure power is maintained by a solar-powered calibre 5X53, capable of handling a world time function with up to 39 time zones. Djokovic has also been spotted wearing a number of other Seiko classics on and off the court, from the Sportura Chronograph to the Premier Kinetic Perpetual.
Stan Wawrinka & Audemars Piguet
For his third Grand Slam championship at the 2016 US Open, Stan Wawrinka lifted the trophy with an AP on his wrist, sporting a large Royal Oak Offshore chronograph – the same model he debuted the 2015 French Open. As an ambassador for the brand, he has been a constant representative on and off the court, sporting various iterations of the Royal Oak Offshore as well as the more svelte Royal Oak in ceramic (as seen with the Perpetual Calendar above) and precious metals.
Naomi Osaka & Citizen
The first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title, Naomi Osaka has since become one of the most recognised female athletes in the world. There’s then no wonder a brand like Citizen would seek to partner with her, positioning her as the brand ambassador which she has worn proudly, from sporting the Citizen Eco-Drive Bluetooth at multiple tournaments including the US Open Finals in 2018, and both Wimbledon and the Australian Open in 2019.
As an update to this article, it should also be pointed out that Osaka has since moved on to become the new brand ambassador for TAG Heuer – a partnership announced towards the end of January this year.
Rafael Nadal & Richard Mille
In 2020 at Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal debuted the RM 27-04 Tourbillon created by Richard Mille to celebrate 10 years in partnership with the King of Clay. There’s little doubt that his ascendancy to tennis dominance has given Richard Mille a significant boost in recognition, and inspired other brands to follow with their own ambassador programs. His obvious favourite is the unmistakable US$725,000 (~AU$945,000) RM 27-03 limited edition, with its head-turning red and yellow hues illustrating a Quartz TPT case, with the head of a bull defining the upper skeletonised bridge and tough manual-winding tourbillon calibre which is able to withstand shocks up to 10,000 G’s. His preceding RM 27-02 was briefly seen on the wrist of young gun Alexander Zverev after he was announced as a brand ambassador in 2017. Mille debuted Zverev’s signature model – the 32g RM 67-02 – at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open.
Now that you’ve read about the luxury watches worn by tennis legends, check out 20 sporty watches for active lifestyles under $10,000 if you feel like mixing performance and style. And if you’re in the market for a new watch, check out our round-up of the best watches for men.