The Rolex watch company is one of the world’s biggest sports sponsors. For decades, Rolex has acted as the main sponsor of top-level sports, where the best athletes in the world compete against each other.
In addition to sponsoring various prestigious tennis and golf tournaments, Rolex is also a worldwide partner and official timekeeper of sailing competitions, various equestrian events, and motorsports competitions.
In this article, you will find out the following:
- In which sports is Rolex, a major participant as a sponsor?
- Which prestigious competitions does Rolex sponsor?
- Which athletes are the current Rolex ambassadors?
Read on to learn more about Rolex’s commitment to elite sports.
Rolex Sports History, From Mercedes Gleitz to Roger Federer
The history of Rolex sponsorship can be traced back to 1927, when Mercedes Gleitze, the first woman to swim across the English Channel, did so with a Rolex “Oyster” around her neck.
The Rolex “Oyster” was one of Rolex their greatest inventions.
The watch survived over 10 hours of testing in harsh conditions in cold seawater; it remained in good condition, kept accurate time, and did not allow a drop of water into the watch case.
Oyster’s development of waterproof case construction was a significant technical achievement that paved the way for rugged sports watches in the decades to come, as mechanical timepieces at the time were vulnerable to destructive moisture and dust.
And that was only the beginning. Sir Malcolm Campbell set the world speed record in 1935 on the beach at Daytona, Florida, in the Blue Bird 5 supercar, wearing an Oyster.
This event made Daytona a well-known centre of motorsports.
Since then, the Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance race at Daytona International Speedway has attracted drivers from the International Motor Sports Association, NASCAR, IndyCar, and Formula One, who compete for a Rolex Daytona watch that is etched with “Winner” engraved on the back.
In the years that followed, the company devoted itself to motorsports, yachting, equestrian sports, golf, and tennis.
One of the most famous Rolex ambassadors today is tennis player Roger Federer.
Federer teamed up with the watch company in 2006, signing a ten-year, $15 million contract that paid him $1.5 million annually and was one of the largest sports advertising deals of all time.
His annual Rolex watch advertising contract was increased to an estimated $8 million in 2016 when it was renewed.
Since the beginning of the 2006 season, Federer has lifted trophies 73 times wearing his Oyster Perpetual Datejust. By simple calculations, and assuming the reported numbers are correct, Rolex has paid nearly $753,000 for each trophy since 2006.
For the man who has been called the greatest of all time, that’s really a good deal.
Rolex and Tennis
Tennis is, without a doubt, Rolex’s biggest foray into the world of sports.
Roger Federer is the first athlete on a Rolex page of endorsers, and the sport is given a special place on the company’s website.
Although support for tennis only began in the 1970s, it has since become the largest sport supported by Rolex.
The match clock of every major tennis tournament bears the name of the Rolex company, which is also the official timekeeper of all four Grand Slams.
The company partnered with Wimbledon in 1978, the Australian Open in 2008, the US Open in 2018, and the French Open in 2019, becoming the official watch and timekeeper of each event.
The Rolex Shanghai Masters, the Rolex Paris Masters, and the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters are three Masters 1000 tournaments prefixed with the Rolex name.
In addition, Rolex frequently acts as the presenting sponsor of the Player Challenge program of ATP and WTA tournaments.
In addition, Rolex sponsors the Davis Cup, the premier international men’s team competition, and maintains close relationships with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
Rolex is also the founding sponsor of the annual Laver Cup tennis tournament, named after legendary tennis player Rod Laver.
In addition to well-known world champions such as;
- Federer (Rolex Datejust and GMT Master II Batman), the brand’s testimony roster also include superstars and rising stars such as
- Carlos Alcaraz (Rolex Daytona)
- Alexander Zverev (Rolex Rolex Sky-Dweller)
- Dominik Thiem (Rolex Daytona)
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Rolex Milgauss)
- Garbine Muguruza (Rolex Datejust)
- Ana Ivanovic (Rolex Daytona)
- Karen Khachanov (Rolex GMT-Master II „Rootbeer”)
- Juan Martín Del Potro (rotating between a few variants of the Rolex Datejust II)
- Angelique Kerber (Rolex Datejust 36)
- Stefanos Tsitsipas (Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronograph)
- Caroline Wozniacki (Rolex Daytona)
- Jannik Sinner (Rolex Submariner)
- Grigor Dimitrov (Rolex Yacht-Master), and many more.
Rolex and Golf
When Rolex signed Arnold Palmer in 1967, the company began looking into the golf industry.
By this time, Palmer had won major tournaments 5 times before turning 40.
Palmer’s sponsorship later evolved into partnerships with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
These golfers – known as “The Big Three” in the 1960s – reinforced the link between sport and brand.
In 1997, Rolex signed Tiger Woods to a five-year, $7 million contract. In 2011, as he began his return, Woods rejoined Rolex after signing with Tag Heuer.
Tiger Woods wears the Rolex Deepsea D-Blue after his first Master’s win in 14 years in 2019.
However, he’s still featured on the Rolex website, and the deal was significant for the company’s relationship with golf.
In addition to Woods, the list of ambassadors includes great players such as Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson.
The brand has also recruited “The New Guard”, including Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Thomas.
Similar to tennis, the brand is firmly rooted in golf, supporting not only elite and new players but also major professional tours and associations, as well as the Masters, the US Open Championship, the US Women’s Open Championship, and the Open, which dates back to 1860.
For nearly 40 years, Rolex has been the patron and official timekeeper of the prestigious event, which is played on the finest links courses in the United Kingdom and attracts the largest international field of participants of the four majors.
The watchmaker also sponsors numerous international amateur tournaments.
Rolex is also active in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and has been a partner since the 1960s. Since 1966, the brand has honoured an LPGA Player of the Year and sponsored legends such as the greatest female golfer of all time, Annika Sorenstam.
Her favourite Rolex was often the small-size, slim Oyster Perpetual with steel bracelet.
Rolex and Motorsports
Rolex sponsors the best races and promotes the growth of this high-performance sport around the world.
The brand’s long-standing relationship with motorsports began with the 1930s race for speed.
Over the years, Rolex has supported innovation and quality while preserving the history of motorsports.
As mentioned above, the brand’s association with legendary racers and high-profile motorsports events began in the 1930s, when Sir Malcolm Campbell set nine world land speed records.
In 1935, he reached a speed of 300 mph (483 km/h) in a Bluebird supercar at Daytona Beach, Florida, with a Rolex on his wrist.
The legendary Rolex Cosmograph Daytona was developed with the needs of racing drivers in mind and named after the famous Florida racetrack.
Three-time FIA Formula One World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart was one of the most iconic figures in the late 1960s, and Rolex quickly developed a close relationship with him.
In 1968, after a legendary Grand Prix race in Monaco, he was honoured with a Rolex Daytona and became a Rolex testimony, and that partnership continues today.
The brand’s partnership with Formula One in 2013 represents the culmination of the brand’s close relationship with motorsport, speed, and cutting-edge technology.
In addition to Sir Jackie Stewart, notable drivers such as multiple Formula One and Le Man’s winner Mark Webber and 2016 Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg serve as Rolex brand ambassadors.
Both drivers have secured their place in the Rolex family by consistently demonstrating their prowess in the Formula One pit lane and cockpits.
Their watches, however, are unrelated to motorsport, unlike Stewart’s Daytona.
After his victory in Monaco, Rosberg bought a Rolex Submariner “Hulk,” while Webber chose another, more expensive Rolex – the Rolex GMT-Master II.
The latest addition to the family of Rolex testimonies is Jenson Button, the 2009 FIA Formula One World Champion.
Since 1992, Rolex has been the title sponsor of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, one of the world’s most famous sports car races held at Daytona International Speedway in Florida, USA.
Since 2001, Rolex has been the official timekeeper of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the oldest sports car endurance race in the world and one of the toughest tests for driver, team, and machine.
Tom Kristensen, an icon of the 24 Hours of Le Mans who set a record by winning the event nine times, is another Rolex ambassador.
Rolex is also a partner of the 12 Hours of Sebring race, held annually in Florida.
Together, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, and the 12 Hours of Sebring are unofficially referred to as the Triple Crown of endurance racing.
This long-standing association with endurance racing was further strengthened in 2016 when Rolex became the official timepiece of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
It makes sense that so many of the top drivers wear a Rolex when it comes to choosing a timepiece to wear every day in the highly competitive world of motorsports.
Rolex and Equestrianism
For more than 60 years, the Swiss watch has supported equestrian competitions and riders.
Rolex’s association with equestrian sports is not particularly surprising, as this activity is associated with prestige and style.
In the past, the watchmaker has been associated with horse shows rather than horse racing, probably due to the fact that equestrian sports are considered more niche or sophisticated.
Show jumpers Rodrigo Pessoa, Scott Brash, and event rider Zara Tindall have all been sponsored by the prestigious watchmaker.
Martin Fuchs, a show jumping champion in equestrianism, is also sponsored by Rolex.
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is a historic new challenge launched in 2013 by three of the world’s biggest horse shows: CHIO Aachen, CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament, and CHI Geneva.
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is considered the ultimate show jumping competition and rewards the rider who wins a consecutive Grand Prix at each of these three major tournaments.
Rolex sponsors the FEI World Cup of Show Jumping, which tests the skills of riders from around the world. For the best riders in the world, this is the ultimate title.
Rolex has also teamed up with regulatory bodies to sponsor the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, the USA, and the CSIO Roma event in Rome, Italy.
The Oyster Perpetual is a widely used timepiece in equestrian sports thanks to its ease of use, reliability, and accuracy, and is very popular with both riders and fans.
It is often awarded to the winners of competitions.
Legends like Steve Guerdat and Eric Lamaze also received Rolex Daytona watches as part of their sponsorship.
Rolex and Yachting
Yachting and Rolex have a long history together of more than 60 years.
The Rolex Swan Cup is a case in point. Every two years, a group of experienced sailors competes in a race off the coast of Sardinia.
The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, another yachting competition sponsored by Rolex watches, is also held in Sardinia.
Sailors from all over the world participate in this competition, where they compete in agility and endurance.
Rolex is the official timepiece for two of these championships, which are at the cutting edge of nautical technology: SailGP, which features the world’s fastest catamarans, and the 52 Super Series for high-performance TP52 monohulls.
Rolex also supports the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, an annual event on Boxing Day in Sydney Harbor. Every two years, sailors participate in the Rolex Fastnet Race, sponsored by Rolex.
In 1992, Rolex created the Yacht-Master – a watch designed specifically for competitions.
The launch of the Yacht-Master II in 2007 underpinned the natural convergence between yachting and precision watchmaking.
Rolex and Other Sports
In skiing, Rolex sponsors the Hahnenkamm races, held in Kitzbuehel, Austria. Rolex’s ambassador is also one of the best female skiers of all time, Lindsey Vonn.
By supporting the Deepsea Under the Pole event, Rolex is showing how much it cares about standing alongside explorers and helping them with accurate timing of everything they notice.
With nearly a century of sports partnerships and a veritable dynasty of sporting events with crown jewels enhancing its signature crown logo.
Rolex remains the undisputed most valuable player as a watch brand in the wide world of sports.