Today, it’s hard to watch golf, or any sport, without seeing a watch brand’s name somewhere on the venue or advertising connected to the game. That’s in addition to the individual sponsorship deals that golfers carry. Rolex has sponsored, or is sponsoring, big names in the golf world, such as Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth, while OMEGA counts pros like Rory McIlroy among its ambassadors. The amount of money that changes hands with these sponsorships vary, based on the golfer and the event, but one thing is clear: The link between golf and luxury watches is strong, and isn’t going anywhere.
Rolex History Runs Deep with Golf
Rolex’s prominent and long-standing involvement in motorsport is obvious to anyone who has ever watched a race, but its roots in golf run just as deep. In addition to its role as patron and official timekeeper of The Open Championship, Rolex has been a presence on pro golfers’ wrists for several decades. More than 50 years ago, the five-point crown partnered with Arnold Palmer, and was frequently seen on the wrists of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
Omega Is Looking To The Future
Omega’s involvement in golf, though shorter than that of Rolex, is strong. Ernie Els and Bernhard Langer were brand ambassadors for Omega in the 1990s and today, the company can count Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia among its big-name friends. The brand hasn’t stopped with sponsorships, though. Beyond making golf-related watches, Omega presents major international golf events, and the company says it is committed to push the game forward.
Watches Worn at The Trophy Presentation but Not on The Green
Today, you’re likely to see tournament winners with a brand-new Rolex or Omega on their wrists, but you won’t see a mechanical watch on pros’ wrists while they’re out on the course. This is because mechanical watches are both heavy and susceptible to shocks. A mechanical dive watch can weigh several ounces when worn on a bracelet, which can drastically change the touch and feel of a golfer’s swing. When there’s so much riding on swing mechanics to reach optimal distances and staggering accuracy, golfers aren’t keen to disrupting that balance. Additionally, mechanical watches are as finely tuned as an exotic sports car, which means they’re extremely sensitive to shocks and bumps. The motion of swinging a club, combined with the impact from hitting the ball, are enough to wreak havoc with a watch’s internal workings.
Designed for The Course
Over the years, there have been several watches designed for the golf course, but most are powered by quartz or are completely digital, instead of the more complicated and fragile mechanical movements in Rolexes and Omegas today. That said, Omega sells a line of its Seamaster Aqua Terra watches that are “made for the golf course.” The Golf Edition watches feature lightweight NATO straps, and while they’re likely not too heavy for use on the course, they are mechanical watches, and presumably carry the same weaknesses that all hand-wound or self-winding watches do.
That leaves us with TAG Heuer, whose watches are frequently seen on the wrists of athletes of all types. The company once designed a watch for golfers, but it was a quartz piece to avoid the shocks from playing golf. Today, the number of pro golfers wearing anything on their wrists is slim. And, the number wearing a watch is even slimmer. Phil Mickelson can frequently be seen wearing a Rolex Cellini, which is both slim and light, but few, if any, others wear a mechanical timepiece while playing.
If you’re looking for a watch to wear on the golf course or want to connect with the brands that your favorite pro golfers wear, you’ve got options. Keep in mind that mechanical watches aren’t the best for wear on the course but make for an excellent companion at the pro shop after you’ve played a round.