Event running like clockwork

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 December, 2004, 12:00am

OMEGA, NOW IN the fifth year as the title sponsor of the Hong Kong Open, has had an association with golf for more than 40 years.

In addition to sponsoring the Asian PGA Tour between 1995 and 1998, it sponsors the European Masters, held annually in the mountain resort of Crans-Montana in Switzerland.

It is the official timekeeper of the United States PGA Tour and hosts numerous amateur tournaments worldwide. In the late 1960s, Omega built its brand in Japan through a 'hole-in-one' competition.

Among the brand's 'ambassadors' are some prominent golf players, such as Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and China's Zhang Lianwei.

In Hong Kong, Omega's Switzerland-based president Stephen Urquhart believes its support for golf, and especially the Hong Kong Open, 'has certainly helped to promote the game in Asia' through the brand's marketing activities linked to the tournament.

'These often involve Omega celebrities, thus linking the game more with lifestyle, and making the game and the tournament more appealing even to non-golfers,' he said.

Local actor Simon Yam Tat-wah, also a keen golfer, has been involved in promoting the game.

'I think Simon has actually improved his golf since joining Omega's family in 1998. Simon participated in last year's Double Eagle contest with QiQi, Richie Jen and Michelle Yeoh, and will do so again this year with Omega star ambassador Coco Lee.'

Golf is also perceived to be in line with the brand's positioning and profile. '[Golf] is a universal game played by people of all ages, men and women alike, and increasingly more by youngsters. Despite its growing popularity, especially in Asia, golf remains quite exclusive and prestigious, which also corresponds to our brand's vocation.' he said.

'We strongly appreciate the tremendous assistance we receive from the Hong Kong Golf Association, the Asian PGA, the Hong Kong government, and The Hong Kong Golf Club. Through our on-course and off-course activities, the additional commitment is very important,' he said.

Last year, the Swiss brand fostered a stronger link with the sport by launching its Double Eagle watch during the Hong Kong Open.

However, he said golfers wore all types of watch, from sporty to classical, depending on their personal preferences.

'I do not think that there is such a thing as a golf watch, as there may be for jogging, sailing regattas or diving,' Mr Urquhart said.

He disagreed with other mechanical watch authorities' advice that mechanical watches should not be worn while playing golf and tennis, because the generated impact on the watch can cause damage.

'Although my technical people might not agree with me, I think that playing golf with a mechanical watch presents no problem at all.

'If the movement encounters a problem because of golf, perhaps it's the swing that is at fault not the watch mechanism.'