This was the year when high-end watch manufacturer Rolex became the official timekeeper of Wimbledon, the world’s oldest and most prestigious lawn tennis tournament.
The blossoming relationship now extends to other Grand Slam tournaments, including the Australian Open; as well as prestigious events such as the Monte-Carlo Masters, the Shanghai Masters and the BNP Paribas Open. Rolex also recruits star tennis players as official ambassadors for the brand.
Another element of the partnership between Wimbledon and Rolex is the Datejust 41 – the tournament’s unofficial watch, which is steeped in history. The first water-resistant, self-winding wristwatch with a date window on the dial, it made its debut in 1945.
Developed into the modern archetype of the classic watch, it was also the forerunner of other favourite Rolex watches, such as the Explorer and Submariner.
Origins of Wimbledon and Rolex
The first Wimbledon Championship was held on 9th July 1877 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. It had a new code of rules, which haven’t changed much to this day; apart from practical details, such as the height of the net and posts.
The tournament has been held at the Wimbledon club ever since and is one of the four Grand Slam tennis championships. Its traditions include an all-white dress code for players.
A big part of the tradition is strawberries and cream for spectators. Fans eat around 33 tons of British strawberries smothered in 2,200 gallons of cream at an average Wimbledon tournament, which lasts for two weeks!
The luxury watch manufacturer Rolex was founded in London in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis. Originally known as Wilsdorf and Davis: Wilsdorf equipped his watches with small, precise movements from a Swiss watchmaker in Bienne to convince the public his innovative watches were exceptionally reliable.
More than a century later, Rolex has grown into the world’s most famous watch brand. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, it has an estimated revenue of around $5.2 billion and has produced some of the most opulent watches in history.
The winning match between Wimbledon and Rolex began in 1978. The meeting of the two iconic brands seemed a fitting partnership, as Wimbledon represented a quest for excellence in sport, while Rolex had come to stand for performance, precision and the pursuit of perfection.
Rolex became the official timekeeper at Wimbledon that year. Since then, the iconic brand has embraced tennis. Rolex plays an important role in the event’s history.
Today, it’s impossible to picture the famous Centre Court without the Rolex clock that times all the matches to perfection. It has been counting the seconds and minutes precisely, marking time for 43 years now.
Tennis player recruitment
Not only is Rolex the official timekeeper, but it also recruits many famous tennis players as official brand ambassadors. The male players who are brand ambassadors include Grigor Dimitrov, Juan Martin del Potro and Dominic Thiem. Female players include Caroline Garcia, Caroline Wozniacki and Garbine Muguruza.
However, the most significant ambassador for Rolex is Roger Federer, 39, who first won Wimbledon in 2003. He has won a record eight Wimbledon titles since. Sadly, he went crashing out of this year’s tournament when he was beaten by rising Polish star Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-final on Centre Court.
Federer has proudly represented the Rolex brand since 2006. He wears one of a number of timepieces from his own collection, including an Oyster Perpetual Platinum, a Sky-Dweller and a GMT Master II.
Rolex organised a special celebration in 2018, marking the brand’s 40 years in tennis, with an advertising campaign that placed current tennis stars, such as Federer, alongside legends from the 1970s, including Bjorn Borg and Chris Evert. The ads featured the tagline: “It doesn’t just tell time. It tells history.”
Although Wimbledon has taken place since 1877 and Rolex joined the tournament around a century later, the luxury watchmaker has become synonymous with tennis and will continue to play a crucial role in the Grand Slam event for many years to come.