The first Grand Slam of 2015, the Australian Open has just finished. In both the Men’s and Women’s finals all the players had watch sponsorship/friends of brand agreements.
Novak Djokovic, sponsored by Seiko prevailed over Andy Murray who is sponsored by Rado. In the Womens final, Serena Williams a friend of Audemars Piguet beat Maria Sharapova who is sponsored by Tag Heuer.
The interesting point is the majority of the players with watch sponsorship will only pop on the watch at the end of the match. The watch will receive a lot of attention if the player in question has won the match or is holding the trophy for winning the tournament.
Rafael Nadal’s Richard Mille RM27 received worldwide attention when he first wore it. Former player and commentator John McEnroe couldnt get over its price tag! Rafa’s watch was the first to be specifically designed to withstand the forces of him hitting his ferocious backhand without affecting the watches accuracy. Even more astounding considering it has a tourbillon as well!.
This got us thinking about the other players that wear timepieces while playing. Their watches were not designed with the intention of the wearer strapping it to the wrist while playing tennis.
The hairspring of a mechanical watch is very sensitive. Most watches utilise the Incabloc or KIF system which are shock absorption devices. This may stand up to everyday normal usage but not a high intensity tennis match.
We still start off with the male players first.
Swiss player Stanislas Wawrinka wears an Audemars Piguet his left wrist while playing. In 2015 he is playing with a Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph. He is a right handed player and hits a one handed backhand. His left wrist doesn’t come into contact with the racquet while playing. We think with the constant movement of the left arm moving during a match, the accuracy would be off by a few seconds either gaining or losing time.
Kei Nishikori is a Japanese player who is sponsored by TAG Heuer. He wears a TAG Heuer Professional Sports Watch while playing. His watch stands out because it is quartz and not a mechanical movement. He is right handed and plays with a two handed backhand. As his watch is worn on the left wrist also, it would have direct contact with the racquet when a backhand is hit. Since a quartz watch has no hairspring, the accuracy of his timepiece would not be compromised as quartz watches can handle shocks better than a mechanical timepiece.
Now we move on to the female players who currently wear a watch/have worn a watch while playing.
Former player Justine Henin used to wear a Rolex Datejust on her left wrist while playing. Like Stan Wawrinka she is right handed and also hit her backhands one handed. With her left hand not coming into contact with the racquet, but still moving about a lot, we are not sure her watch would would have been in COSC range at the end of her matches, even though it is a certified chronometer.
The final player in the article is Serena Williams. She won her 19th grand slam title at this years Australian Open, a fantastic achievement. Serena Williams is one of the strongest female players on the tour, she is capable of hitting a 200 km/h serve and has a powerful forehand and backhand. Her Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph is worn on the left wrist while playing. She is right handed and hits with a two handed backhand. Her left wrist would come into contact with the racquet hitting a backhand. Considering the amount of force she is known to generate from the stroke, the watch would absorb lots of shock from the racquet connecting with the ball.
We think it would interesting to have the watches worn by the players tested, before and after a match to see how much deviation occurs.