For a website that talks about sports watches on a weekly basis, we’re pretty quiet about what it’s like to actually play sports with a watch on. It’s something our readers have noticed and discussed from time to time, and it hasn’t slipped my mind. Luckily, Rado recently gave me the opportunity to do two things I haven’t done in a long time: play tennis and do so while wearing a sports watch.
I used to play tennis regularly when I was a teenager. I would train three times a week for two hours, and play competitively on the weekends. One of my favorite aspects of the game was the almost ceremonial routine that precedes every match. Every week, I would place my tennis bag in the same spot next to me, take out one racket, take off the old grip, put on a new one, pluck the strings until each was parallel to the ones on either side, take a sip of water, and then, just before heading onto the court, I would take off my watch.
There was simply no way I was wearing a watch on the court. Too heavy, too uncomfortable. Never mind that I might damage the watch, I took it off simply because I didn’t see any reason to keep it on and didn’t like the feeling of it while playing. And then one day I stopped playing tennis. I went to university, got a job, moved to abroad (twice), and never really found the time, or the tennis partner, to get back on court.
Last week, almost 10 years since my last game of tennis, I was back on the court, wearing the wrong sports shoes, holding someone else’s racket (amazed by how light they have become), but my watch was still tucked away safely. Instead, this is what I wore:
Rado calls it the Automatic Chronograph Match Point, and it’s a limited edition in the HyperChrome collection, a series of watches that share a lightweight, high-tech ceramic case. This one aims to please tennis enthusiasts by incorporating some elements of the game into the watch.
Some of the features, such as the 00, 15, 40 markers on the seconds dub dial (which are a nod to the game’s point system) are a little on the nose. Others are more innocent. I quite like the grill mesh inside the 12-hour counter, which is taken from the tennis net and adds a little texture to the dial.
It’s a chronograph, and of course that prompts the question: what’s the purpose of a chronograph with a tachymeter scale in a tennis watch? I wasn’t sure before stepping on court, and honestly I still can’t tell you. However, it makes the watch feel sporty and it serves a purpose off the court, which can’t be a bad thing, right? In my mind, it’s certainly better than concocting a complication that can only be used during a specific sport – I’m looking at you, TAG Heuer Special Edition Tribute To Muhammad Ali.
Where the Match Point LE scores some major points is the lightness and comfort to the watch on the wrist. I mean this in the best possible way, but I quickly forgot that I was wearing it, which meant I could focus on my game (which I really needed). At no point did the watch feel like a distraction, nor was it cumbersome, despite being 45mm in diameter. Since the case and the bracelet are made of ceramic, with stainless steel used only in very limited doses for the side of the case and for the crown and pushers, the watch ends up being really light and it doesn’t feel cold on the skin. This is a small detail, but one that is very noticeable if you’re playing sports in cooler climates. The case and bracelet have a matte finish, while the center links and the bezel are polished. The combination works really nicely overall.
The HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Match Point is limited to 999 pieces, and is priced at $4,800. Of course, it faces some pretty stiff competition from other chronographs at that price point, not to mention coming up against smart watches, which have conquered the wrists of many athletes, including the tennis player coaching Rado’s guests. But when it comes to mechanical timepieces, this is a truly credible sports watch.
For more information, visit Rado online.