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Rolex And Wimbledon: Crowns Of Glory 

Paul Altieri

What is it about Wimbledon that means a winner here becomes a part of history? 

For one, it is Wimbledon’s longevity: this, the oldest tennis tournament in the world, dates to 1877. For another, it is the archaic, difficult surface upon which the tournament is played: grass pays homage to the very beginnings of the sport, but also demonstrates the tournament’s desire to maintain tradition. Wimbledon is steeped in history, fables, and traditions – the very fabric of modern mythology.  

Even in 1978, when Rolex became a partner of the tournament, the Swiss brand was aware of the Wimbledon mythos. As a marque that has carefully crafted its own legend, it was not hard for one master to recognize another. There are hardly two brands that fit so well together, emulating each other in a way with their respective holds on traditionalism and domination in their respective fields.  

How 1978 Influences the Present 

How 1978 Influences the Present Wimbledon

In 1978, the unofficial sovereign of the world of watches became the official sponsor of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club’s championships, better known as Wimbledon due to the pretty area of London that it is situated in.  

In fact, 1978 was a big year for sports marketing altogether, and this author would venture so far as to say that Rolex’s then new relationship to Wimbledon was related. In that year, ESPN was founded, a brand-new American cable channel established to show “all sports, all the time.” For another, the term “sport marketing” was coined by the magazine Advertising Age in an article published that year in which sports marketing was characterized as, “The activities of consumer and industrial product and service marketers who are increasingly using sport as a promotional vehicle.” Finally, as an example of how sporting events were entering the collective consciousness, video game and computer company Atari released its first home video sports game.  

Rolex took a plunge into the relative unknown in 1978. Today, Rolex is not known as the type of company to necessarily try out new things. So to begin a type of marketing that was only coined in that same year can well be considered radical, new, and praiseworthy. And, as it turned out, extremely successful. 

Why Sports Marketing?

Why Sports Marketing?

Sports transcend social, cultural, language, and even ideological barriers. Which means that brands associating themselves with sport can reach very large audiences that share a common passion without regard for the usual socio-political barriers. 

Followers and fans unite in a way thanks to the sense of community, integration, and unity that those emotionally vested in sports tend to embrace – even if they don’t know that they do it. These positive emotions quite naturally pass over to an associated brand. 

Which Watches Can We Expect to see at Wimbledon 2024?

Immediately understanding the significance and potential of sports-related ambassadors, since 1978 Rolex has maintained a stable of tennis testimonials (which the brand calls “testimonees”), including champions from the past and highly ranked contemporary players. 
Roger Federer, often called one of the greatest tennis players of all time, has been associated with Rolex since 2001. By his retirement in 2022, he had won 20 Grand Slam titles, including a record eight at Wimbledon. Roger Federer’s Rolex collection is renowned for its elegance and includes some of the brand’s most iconic models. He will likely be present at Wimbledon 2024, especially given the recent premiere of the Amazon Prime documentary “Federer: Twelve Final Days” on June 20, 2024. This Rolex-sponsored documentary follows the emotional last 12 days of this supremely elegant player’s career. 

The roster of current players is large: Rolex not only wears the crown in the watch industry, but also on the professional tennis circuit. The “testimonee” professionals receive a “budget” with which they can choose watches, so they have several, and they almost always wear the most recent models. Here are some of the players and their watches who we might see during the Wimbledon fortnight. 

Wimbledon Carlos Alcaraz who wears Rolex 116519 Daytona

Fresh off his French Open 2024 championship, current defending champion at Wimbledon Carlos Alcaraz, who tends to favor sportier looks, wore the Rolex Daytona, specifically the Rolex 116519 from 2021 with meteorite dial on a reinforced rubber Oysterflex bracelet to hoist the Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy in Paris. We may see this interesting timepiece again during the English fortnight. 

Iga Świątek, wearing Rolex Datejust

Iga Świątek, women’s world number one, often wears a Rolex Datejust and seems to especially like the variation with purple dial and a diamond-encrusted IX but was seen after her Indian Wells championship wearing a 1908. Hoisting her trophy at the 2024 French Open, however, she appeared to be wearing a Rolex Lady-Datejust with light-colored dial in a 28 mm case. Which of these beauties will she sport at the All England Lawn Club? 

Jannik Sinner wearing Rolex Submariner 116610

World number one Jannik Sinner, Australian Open 2024 champion, obviously has refined taste: the watch he was spotted wearing after his Melbourne win and during the French Open 2024 is the Rolex Submariner Date, but not the most recent edition. His is Rolex Reference 116610, the first Submariner with a scratchproof ceramic bezel. In a 40 mm steel case, black dial, and stainless bracelet, it was discontinued in 2021 after the introduction of the nearly identical Rolex 124060 in 2020. 

Dane Holger Rune wearing Rolex Day Date 40

The up-and-coming Dane Holger Rune, world-ranked number 15, has been a Rolex ambassador since early 2023; he seems to have taken a recent shine to the Rolex Day-Date 40 in rose gold with olive-green dial and this author thinks we’ll see it, too.  

Seeded second at Wimbledon, American sensation Coco Gauff has been wearing the Rolex Oyster Perpetual, even as she raised the winner’s trophy at the U.S. Open 2023. Media darling Taylor Fritz, also American, prefers the Daytona, and his current selection includes Reference 126503-001, a two-tone chronograph in stainless steel and yellow gold with a yellow gold bezel. With yellow gold making a serious comeback among Gen Z, his choice isn’t entirely surprising, and it may make another appearance in England. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas wearing Rolex Daytona 126500

The poetic Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas also prefers a sporty look and has been spotted frequently wearing the Rolex 126500.  This watch is a stunning example of a Rolex Daytona stainless-steel chronograph with white dial and ceramic bezel on a stainless-steel bracelet. This will also likely be his choice at Wimbledon 2024. 

Paul Altieri
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