For many of us, summer means weekends on the golf course and lazy afternoons watching your favorite professional golfers compete in the major tournaments on TV. And for some of us, this also involves paying close attention to what watches these athletes are sporting in their interviews, trophy presentations, and in some cases, even during competition on the course. As the 2015 PGA Championships wrap up this weekend, we showcase a foursome of notable watches favored by the pros.
Rolex has had a long history of being worn, and in many cases endorsed, by several of golf’s greatest players, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mickelson. Mickelson, winner of five major championships including three Masters titles and the 2013 PGA Tournament, can be spotted these days in print and TV advertisements sporting the Swiss brand’s newly revamped Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date, notably the platinum-cased model with “ice-blue” dial that made its debut in March at the 2015 Baselworld watch fair. The modern version of the famous Day-Date features more contemporary case dimensions (40 mm in diameter as opposed to the original’s 36-mm) and an all-new, chronometer-certified automatic movement made in-house by Rolex. Click here to read our report on the new Rolex Day-Dates and to see other versions in yellow gold, white gold, and Everose gold.
Omega is another watch brand with close ties to the sport of golf, holding “Official Patron” partnerships with the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup, title sponsorships of several international tournaments, and a stable of well-known athletes as brand ambassadors, including Sergio Garcia, retired legend Greg Norman, and Irish sensation Rory McIlroy, who cemented his rise to fame with a hard-won victory over Woods in the Omega-sponsored Match at Mission Hills in 2013. McIlroy’s official timepiece is an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150 M Master Co-Axial, a 41.5-mm steel watch with a black dial, a date window at 3 o’clock, and a fairway-evocative green tint on the central seconds hand and minutes numerals. The watch is outftted with Omega’s in-house Master Co-Axial Caliber 8500, which boasts an industry-leading magnetic field resistance to 15,000 gauss. Click here for more on Omega’s Master Co-Axial technology.
Audemars Piguet, known for its association with high-profile athletes in several sports, including the NBA’s LeBron James and Formula One’s Michael Schumacher, also fields a roster of “Golf Ambassadors,” recently adding Englishman Danny Willett to its dream team, which includes Keegan Bradley, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood, and Sir Nick Faldo, among several others. Appropriately, Willett went on to win the European Masters in AP’s (and watchmaking’s) home country of Switzerland this past July, shortly after signing on with the brand. Willett wears an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph in stainless steel, with the collection’s hallmark Grand Tapisserie dial (here with subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock for chronograph counters and small seconds) and powered by AP’s self-winding Caliber 2385, with an integrated column-wheel chronograph function. The 41-mm case features the octagonal bezel made famous by the original Royal Oak and its designer, Gérald Genta.
We round out the foursome with Richard Mille, the haute-de-gamme watch brand that in 2011 produced the first Richard Mille RM 038 Tourbillon with the input of its golf ambassador, American Bubba Watson. To the amazement of many, this highly complex timepiece (much like the Richard Mille watch worn by tennis champ Rafael Nadal) is not just strapped on for trophy photo ops but actually worn by Watson during play. That’s because it was engineered with special functionality, and specific materials, ideally suited to the rigors of golf. (Richard Mille and Watson must be doing something right: Watson won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans after donning the first model in 2011, his third PGA Tour title in ten months that year.) The latest version, unveiled just this year, combines a patented G-Sensor technology with a tourbillon mechanism.The tiny, mechanical G-sensor allows the user to see the accumulated motion of their golf swing in G’s and is able to record the force generated by a golfer’s swing, specifically during the last segment, up to 20-G’s of acceleration — important info for golfers such as Watson. Resetting the sensor back to zero for the following swing is done by simply pressing the aerodynamically formed pusher at 9 o’clock. The lightness of the manual-wind movement — with its highly skeletonized, asymmetrical flying bridges and plates machined from grade 5 titanium with PVD treatment — is also important for a watch worn in sport, along with the similarly lightweight case, made of TZP-G, a type of ceramic based on microscopic tubes of alumina oxide powder injected with green colorant at a pressure of 2,000 bars to achieve its matte finish and bright green hue (in honor of Watson’s favorite color). The central caseband adds to the wearing comfort, made of non-allergenic grade 5 titanium molded with white rubber. The RM 38-01 Sensor Bubba Watson is a limited edition of 50 pieces worldwide. (For more details on the original Richard Mille RM 038 Tourbillon Bubba Watson and the technology behind it, click here.)