By Punit Mehta, Founder RedBar Bombay
Watches are perceived to be pieces of art, jewellery, mechanical marvels or even tools. Every watch is made for a ‘purpose’, if you are into diving, aeronautics or racing there is a watch for almost every hobby and activity. However, with the advent of the next-gen watch buyer, this concept is now dwindling. People are looking at more versatile options to adorn and then came the era of “Steel Sports Watch” something perceived to be worn as an everyday watch, irrespective of what you are doing!
Also for fitness-related or sporting activities, no one would really wear the Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso for Polo or the Rolex Explorer while mountain climbing but rather wear one of the smart/sports digital watches available for a fraction of the cost with a plethora of options.
But let us for a moment think about the ‘what if’ you were in an era that the only watches available were the now considered Haute Horlogerie? Would you still wear them? Which ones?
In 2018 ICC (International Cricket Council) banned the use of any smartwatches to be worn on the field by players and officials. In 2020 the England Cricket Board banned cricketers from wearing smartwatches during the match to tighten anti-corruption regulations. Why? Well, it was during the 2019 County Championships that Lancashire player Matt Parkinson brought to light the possibility of information exchange via smartwatches when he came to know of his maiden England call up via a notification on his team-mate Steven Crofts smartwatch.
Now coming to India, well needless to say cricket is looked upon as a religion here and the cricketers are almost worshipped. This country is literally playing cricket all the time, may it be in the apartment societies or large stadiums filled with 100,000 fans. Every Indian would have played cricket at some point in time, well almost.
So let’s break down a few watches you could wear maybe not whilst playing the sport but to express your love for the game. We can’t talk of cricket and not mention the Indian legend – Sachin Tendulkar. So our first suggestion would be the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore ‘Sachin Tendulkar’ edition that was limited to 300 pieces, that is if you can get your hands on it now. Keeping up with times, there is of course the Panerai Luminor “MS Dhoni” editions that took India by storm. Both these suggestions are extremely cool and sturdy. Are they equipped to withstand a few diving catches, strokes from the willow or the jerk of the throw, well maybe so? The question is do you have it in you to take that risk?
A majority of the year, most places in India do face the heat, in terms of the weather of course. So a quick weekend to Goa and a dip in the pool or the ocean are often looked at as pleasure activities rather than a very serious sport or a workout by many. The best watch while taking that laid back dip in the pool or a good workout would be an obvious choice, a diver.
Although by some definitions, a diver watch should be water-resistant to about 10 atm or 330 feet, most people would seldom go to those depths and all we need is a robust watch, ideally a screw-down crown which can take a few underwater lengths in the pool.
The Rolex Submariner would be an easy winner, water-resistance up to 300 meters, 41mm of legible dial both on land and underwater with luminescent hour markers made of white gold are all a winner. Given the current market situation, if you can’t get your hands on a Rolex or if it doesn’t fit your budget, you could also wear the Oris Aquis watches and the Tissot Seastar 2000 professional Powermatic 80.
Football and watches have always been symbiotic. Although as per the FIFA rule book law footballers aren’t supposed to wear watches while on the field, it doesn’t stop them from icing up their Rolex’s and Patek’s post-game. However, there was that one controversial incident where Odell Beckham Jr. wore a $2 million Richard Mille during a pre-game warmup and took a lot of heat for it.
Football, one of the most widely loved global sports, is all about hard-hitting, running and falling! An average football player runs about 10 to 15 km on the field during one match. That is including the sudden jerks and the turns, the passes and the tackling on the field. So which watch would you wear if you could? Purely from the perspective of not damaging your watch, there is the IWC Big Pilot’s watch shock absorber XPL that can withstand g force of upto 30,000g. Would it be comfortable on the wrist while playing, well I’m not so sure? G-shock G Mudmaster and the Victorinox I.N.O.X are certainly options that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Tennis as a sport is every sponsor’s dream. In fact, Rolex is one of the oldest sponsors of Wimbledon. With an association that dates back to 1978, watches and Tennis are often perceived as matches made in heaven and rightly so. Stemming from the fact that both these industries most certainly benefit from each other, the similarities of a good Tennis player and a timeless watch are uncanny – both are extremely polished and dynamic on the outside and strong and resilient on the inside.
Unlike other sports, we often see Tennis players proudly adorning their watches during the match. A few that do come to mind are Rafel Nadal’s Richard Mille RM 27-04 that weighs a mere 20gms and withstands 10,000 Gs of force and Serena Williams Royal Oak Offshore that she is often seen within the midst of all the action. This year itself, world number Novak Djokovic who has caught himself in a bit of a situation in Australia has been signed on as a brand ambassador for Hublot and Naomi Osaka proudly flaunts her new green TAG Heuer Aquaracer. Now coming to the watches you could wear while playing this elite sport, well firstly we don’t suggest you wear a watch. It is a high impact sport and the constant blows would most certainly impact the movement of the watch. But if you absolutely have to then keep it light, so titanium and steel would be the way to go.
Irrespective of whatever you are doing, there is a watch for every occasion and every activity. Although by no means do I recommend wearing an expensive mechanical watch while a sporting activity, I can attest that some of the watches available are capable of withstanding almost anything you throw at them!
Wear your watches as you may, they are for your use and not the safe!