Before the first ball was served, Richard Mille set the horological tone for this year’s Roland Garros with the launch of the latest in its series of watches developed in partnership with Rafael Nadal. The nine-times winner of Roland Garros took to the courts sporting a new RM27-02 tourbillon worth 800,000 dollars that was as much the focus of attention as his game.
Like Nadal, Serena Williams also wears her watch on court. In spite of the weight of the gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak on her wrist, not to mention a dose of the flu that had her confined to her apartment for most of the week, the American overcame the odds to bag her 20th Grand Slam title after a commanding performance against Lucie Sarafova in the women’s final.
Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, also wearing an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, won the men’s title after beating world number one and Seiko man Novak Djokovic (who had beaten Nadal in his quarter final). One of the first to congratulate Wawrinka on social media was Roger Federer, who Wawrinka had beaten in the quarter finals and who was watching the match on his smartphone while attending the Swiss football cup final.
De Bethune and TAG Heuer did not fare as well on court. The former lost to Rolex in the battle of the brands as its ambassador Gael Monfils was beaten by Roger Federer in the fourth round. After appearing at the TAG Heuer store in Paris before the tournament for a charity event, the two brand ambassadors Maria Sharapova (read our interview) and Kei Nishikori both exited Roland Garros in the fourth round.
The battle of the brands may seem anodyne compared to the sporting prowess that was on display at this year’s Roland Garros. Yet the fact that one of the most-read articles on WorldTempus during the tournament was a piece written last year by our own tennis expert Miguel Seabra about Mr Wawrinka and his Royal Oak Offshore model speaks volumes about the importance such associations have. As long as people are searching for “Wawrinka watch brand” on the Internet, the battle of brands on court will continue.
So can we declare an horological winner at the 2015 Roland Garros? Audemars Piguet may be the watch brand of choice for the two champions but the winner in the visibility stakes was most definitely Longines. The official timekeeper had permanent visibility on court, on screen (TV and Internet) and, if that was not enough, backed this up with a concerted advertising campaign on Eurosprt. With its traditional Future Tennis Aces event on the fringes of the tournament and its philanthropic partnership with the foundation of Steffie Graf and Andre Agassi, the St. Imier brand rose high above the partnerships with any one individual.