Sports stars give leading watch brands an edge in race to the top

Watch brands are communicating their brand ethos through a select group of ambassadors - athletes.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 December, 2015, 10:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 December, 2015, 10:31am

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The pursuit of excellence drives all watchmakers as they release each sophisticated timepiece.

They want their brand to exude prestige and to welcome every collector as part of an elite community. That’s why they communicate their brand ethos through a select group of ambassadors – athletes.

Right now, no athlete exemplifies brilliance and success more than Argentinian football maestro Lionel Messi. His transcendent performances for Barcelona, coupled with his drive to raise the bar, persuaded Audemars Piguet to draft him as an ambassador in 2010.

As far as the Le Brassus brand is concerned, Messi’s mastery of the beautiful game perfectly embodies its philosophy: “To break the rules, you must first master them.”

The Swiss watchmaker limited the Royal Oak Leo Messi Chronograph to just 100 pieces. Executed in platinum, the watch is a fitting tribute to arguably the best footballer in the world.

Of course, when one mentions Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo is unlikely to be far behind. Traditionally, Tag Heuer, through its association with speed and Formula One, turned to motorsport for brand ambassadors, such as Ayrton Senna, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. But with Ronaldo’s relentless demand for perfection, having the Portuguese captain in its fold was simply a no-brainer for the luxury brand.

Early this year, the brand came out with the Tag Heuer Formula 1 CR7 chronograph in Ronaldo’s honour, while The House of Franck Muller paid homage to him with an exclusive Perpetual Calendar Bi-Retro Chrono CR7 limited edition.

Since 2011, Omega has been synonymous with golf, acting as official partner of the PGA Tour of America. It recently extended this partnership until 2022. Omega has assembled an impressive array of golfing ambassadors, including Sergio Garcia, Greg Norman, Michelle Wie and Rory McIlroy.

Montblanc went to China to find the perfect brand ambassador in Lin Dan, the king of badminton. At 31, he has achieved what his peers could only dream of – two-time Olympic champion, five-time world champion, five-time All England champion, and the list goes on.

But if you’re talking about pinnacles, then no athlete has reached higher – literally – than Felix Baumgartner. Who could ever forget the Austrian skydiver’s 2012 jump from the stratosphere to reach speeds of up to Mach 1.25? Continuing his long association with Zenith, Baumgartner competed in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring endurance race. The 46-year-old daredevil drove for the Audi Race Experience team and wore Zenith’s El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th.