By Barry Janoff
January 10, 2014: In the sport of tennis, hands and fingers are very important, In the world of tennis endorsements, the highly visible area of wrists are equally important.
It is no surprise, then that as the Australian Open is about to get underway down under in Melbourne, Seiko has unveiled an alliance with top-ranked Novak Djokovic. The deal comes a couple of days after Agnieszka Radwanska signed a three-year pact with Rado (pictured below), the luxury Swiss watchmaker that also boasts Andy Murray and Julia Goerges.
Djokovic, who previously wore Audemars Piguet, signed a three-year alliance to become Seiko's global ambassador. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Seiko now gets prime real estate on TV in the U.S. and internationally despite not being the official watch partner for the Australian Open.
That designation goes to Rolex, which also is the official watch partner for Wimbledon.
Citizen the official timepiece for the U.S. Open, Longines is the official partner for the French Open.
The Seiko deal with Djolovic was unveiled by Shinji Hattori, president for Seiko Watch Corp. Djokovic's other marketing partners include adidas, UniQlo and Peugeot.
According to Seiko, "When the opportunity to work with Novak Djokovic arose, we welcomed it immediately. In Novak, we see someone who shares our desire to be the best and who is determined to maintain his status as a leader. Like Seiko, Novak is dedicated to perfection. And like Novak, Seiko is determined to be 'one step ahead of the rest.'"
The Australian Open runs Jan. 13-26 and officially heralds in the 2014 tennis season.
Among other watch deals sported by top-ranked tennis players:
Roger Federer, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Juan-Martin del Potro and Li Na wear Rolex.
Rafael Nadal wears Richard Mille.
Maria Sharapova and Kei Nishikori wear Tag Heuer,
Andy Murray, Agnieszka Radwanska and Julia Goerges sport Rado
Victoria Azarenka has a deal with Citizen.
Petra Kvitova wears Ulysse Nardin,
David Ferrer wears Bovet
Serena Williams has played while wearing Casio but does not have an official watch partner, according to her Web site.
John Isner, the top-ranked U.S. men's tennis player (and No. 14 overall), does not currently have a watch sponsor, according to his Web site.
The deal between Djokovic and Seiko extends beyond the court. Seiko will also support The Novak Djokovic Foundation, a charity that works with disadvantaged children. The company said it has designed an "accessibly priced watch collection for young people that will carry the Foundation name and message." These watches will be sold under the Lorus brand name and will be available worldwide beginning this September.
According to Seiko's Hattori, "We admire Novak as a player, of course, but we also admire him as a person who has a rich range of interests and a very varied lifestyle. We cannot help Novak win tennis matches, but we can help him manage time in every other aspect of his life."