The Most Stylish Watches In Tennis
Mr Andre Agassi at the Davis Cup, Olympiahalle in Munich, 22 July 1989. Photograph by IMAGO/USA TODAY Network
At the conclusion of any professional tennis match, you’re likely to see a player scrabbling around in their kit bag looking for something very important: their watch. On the court and off, tennis and horology have long been entwined. It’s a sport that pairs the gladiatorial with the graceful, which is always going to appeal to the high-end marks in Switzerland and beyond, with brands clamouring to get their latest on the wrists of the world’s best.
Over the years there have been lots of stylish tennis players who wear watches well. Mr Rafael Nadal ripping up the red clay at Roland-Garros in a Richard Mille piece that weighs less than a feather; Mr Roger Federer and the Rolex collection to end all Rolex collections; and icons like Mr Björn Borg, who paired their mid-century mega celebrity with a Cartier Tank or two.
Below are nine of our favourite stylish tennis players who wore, and continue to wear, watches well.
01. Mr Andre Agassi
Mr Andre Agassi at the US Open, USTA National Tennis Center in New York, 30 August 1990. Photograph by IMAGO/USA TODAY Network
The original bandana-clad bad boy of 1990s tennis (and late 1980s, and 2000s to be fair), Mr Andre Agassi was a marketing phenomenon who rocked acid-wash denim shorts and an aggressive amount of neon. He skipped Wimbledon for a bit due to what he saw as the oppressive nature of its famous all-white dress code. A long-time Longines guy, there was a time when Agassi was chopping up opponents wearing an incongruously elegant Ebel, a recently revived Swiss mark that was big in the world of tennis (more on them later). Extra points for wearing a proper dress watch while playing elite sport in nu-rave gear.
02. Mr Michael Chang
Mr Michael Chang at Wimbledon, All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, 26 August 1994. Photograph by Mr Tim Rooke/Shutterstock
Underarm serving his way to a historic French Open victory and the inside of Mr Ivan Lendl’s frazzled mind, Mr Michael Chang was an American tennis trailblazer — the youngest ever male Grand Slam winner – and underrated wearer of clothes. The technicolour Reebok polos and short shorts wouldn’t look out of place in a Dalston pub garden. Over the years, Chang sported watches by the now defunct Stelux and helped to launch Reebok’s foray into the timekeeping world in the late 1990s, before settling with Longines for his luxury era.
03. Mr Björn Borg
Mr Björn Borg in “Brian Moore Meets Bjorn Borg”, 1980. Photograph by ITV/Shutterstock
He of flowing mane and a gaze as chilly as a fjord on a November morning, Mr Björn Borg was the original tennis heartthrob who made a headband, tiny little shorts and a Fila track jacket his trademark. He also knew how to wear some jewellery, a couple of thin gold chains here, a Cartier Tank – a mid-century classic that has become the de facto dress watch of right now – there. A bit like Borg himself, it’s the sort of piece that never goes out of style.
04. Mr John McEnroe
Mr John McEnroe during Musicourt at Forest Hills, New York, 27 August 1982. Photograph by Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
It’s fairly fitting that someone like Mr John McEnroe – a foul-mouthed iconoclast in a red headband (during his early years anyway) who is known more for his dreadful temper, and winning just seven Major titles in an ultra-competitive era – would rock a digital watch. This isn’t a delicate gold Day-Date sort of man. This is the sort of man who wants to insult the umpire’s intelligence and integrity, and tell the time down to the very second on his Casio afterwards.
05. Mr Yannick Noah
Mr Yannick Noah at a Europe 1 broadcast in Lyon, 6 March 1981. Photograph by Mr Brucelle Armel/Sygma via Getty Images
In the 1980s and 1990s, Ebel was the dominating force when it came to watches and tennis players, and tennis players wearing watches. Messrs Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, and Yannick Noah had vastly different styles and personalities but were united by the fact that they were box office and looked cool on a tennis court… and wore the Swiss brand. The last Frenchman to win Roland-Garros, Yannick Noah in outlandish Le Coq Sportif on the beautiful red clay of Paris is an abiding image, and so is this one of him in the airport in a little stainless-steel dive number. Oh, also, he’s a hugely famous pop star in France. What can’t he do? (Possibly solve the cold fusion conundrum, but we won’t hold that against him.)
06. Mr Rafael Nadal
Mr Rafael Nadal during a practice session at Wimbledon, All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, 25 June 2022. Photograph Action Sports Images/Alamy
Say what you like about Richard Mille watches, but the brand knows how to make a design that is memorable, bold, weighs less than a quail feather and is precision-engineered to be able to withstand the rigours of professional tennis. Mr Rafael Nadal might dress mostly like a friendly accountant when he’s off court, but his long-running partnership with the maker of sport watches that cost about as much as a one-bedroom flat in Zurich has become one of the defining athlete-watch partnerships. And he does look cool in it when he winds up that bullwhip forehand, doesn’t he?
07. Mr Roger Federer
Mr Roger Federer in the interview room at Wimbledon, All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, 26 June 2021. Photograph by Alamy
Here he is, the immaculate Swiss statesman of modern tennis. The grace, the glory, the absolutely pulverising opponents for a period of time that felt like centuries – Mr Andy Roddick is still digging out that slice backhand in his sleep. He wore a cosy cardigan and white trousers onto Centre Court and he did it all while wearing a beautiful Rolex… Well, he put it on after he won. There have been gold Day-Dates, GMT IIs with SW19-green faces and a Daytona or thirty. Can you get us on the waiting list, Rog?
08. Mr Arthur Ashe
Mr Arthur Ashe at the Family Circle Cup Tournament, Sea Pines Racquet Club, Hilton Head, 5 May 1974. Photograph by IMAGO/USA TODAY Network
Objectively the coolest man to ever step foot on a tennis court (who else can play in a sweater vest and a giant 1970s collar, and look like that in a pair of aviators? No one), Mr Arthur Ashe was, as he was with most things, an understated and effortless wearer of great watches. Check out the perfect gold Day-Date here. He also knew his way around a Tank.
09. Mr Gaël Monfils
Mr Gaël Monfils at the French Open, Stade Roland Garros, Paris, 31 May 2023. Photograph by Mr Javier Garcia/ IMAGO/USA TODAY Network
If you’ve never seen a human being do a slam dunk on a tennis court, then I suggest you take some time to search up a few clips of Mr Gaël Monfils. A human highlight reel with a racquet in his hand, the Frenchman is also a proper watch collector with more than 50 high-end pieces, mixing the classic big names with some deeper cuts. There’s a Patek Philippe Flyback Chrono, Voutilainen GMT-6, a Chronomètre Bleu from F.P.Journe, and a Greubel Forsey GMT Sport to name a handful. He’s even gone as far as to become a judge at the prestigious Le Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève. The man knows his stuff.