Image courtesy: Hublot, Corum
Timekeeping is required for any sport, and sailing is a major sport, albeit in niche circles. Moreover, the lifestyle associated with sailing and yachting holds a place for luxury timekeeping. Hence, it’s not unusual for watch manufacturers to collaborate with sailing events, tournaments and such. It’s fascinating to study some of these associations and the by-products of these partnerships—the inspiration that designers draw from them to create special editions.
Hublot is one such company that has an association with the Yacht Club of Monaco. Jean-Claude Biver, the owner of Hublot, describes the basis of the partnership well, when he says, “Whether on water or on land, yachting in competitions or for pleasure; whether aboard ultra-modern super maxis or classic boats; Hublot shares the values associated with it all.” IWC, on the other hand, currently has a partnership with the Volvo Ocean Race event. While speaking of the race, IWC CEO Georges Kern states, “This uncompromising round-the-world race is one of the most demanding team sporting events of them all and promises a competition full of drama and adventure,” highlighting another aspect of such associations. Maxime Ferte, IWC’s Brand Director for Middle East and India says, “The partnership provides us with an opportunity to demonstrate our expertise in terms of engineering, technology and quality.” Translating their expertise in timekeeping to sailing, watch companies act as official sponsors of sailing teams and sometimes, even vessels. Susumu Kawanishi, the President of Seiko India, tells us, “We support the International 49er Class, the fastest boat in the Olympic regatta and its sister class, the 29er XX Class, a new class of high-performance skiff that is built for women’s racing.”
The America’s Cup
A major sailing competition, the America’s Cup—incidentally, the oldest active trophy in any international sport—has several participating teams that are invariably supported by watch brands. Corum, for instance, is the official timekeeper of France's AC45 Energy Team. Antonio Calce, Corum’s CEO speaks passionately about this association. “To participate in the America's Cup is every sailor's dream, and by definition, the dream of a brand like Corum—a key player in the field since 1960,” he says, going on to speak about the team’s chances at the 2013 America’s Cup to be held in San Francisco Bay. TAG Heuer, is another brand with a history of supporting teams vying for the Cup. Manmeet Vohra, Marketing Director for TAG Heuer in India explains, “In 2005, TAG Heuer was the official partner of the China Team, the first ever entry from China in the America’s Cup. And this year, the brand is partnering with the mighty Oracle Team USA, the 34th America’s Cup defending champions.” One of the strongest associations that a brand has with the America’s Cup is probably that of Louis Vuitton. In 1983, a preliminary qualification stage was created to identify the team capable of winning the America’s Cup. It was called the ‘Louis Vuitton Cup’, which was won by the Australians that year, who went on to win the main event as well, ending 132 years of American domination in the competition. The following year, while Louis Vuitton marks 30 years of associating with the Cup, they will now also be the Official Timekeepers of the event.
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