Rafael Nadal’s $725k Richard Mille Watch

“It was a difficult match between Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal,” forbes.com reports, “who gave watch lovers a real thrill – every time he wiped the perspiration from his forehead – deftly showing off his $725,000 Richard Mille watch.” Define “his.” Because I have a sneaking suspicion that . . .

Mr. Mille lent Mr. Nadal the watch. Or paid him to wear it. Or gave it to Mr. Nadal and paid him. Because even though Mr. Nadal can afford a $750k timepiece, I’m sure he has more pressing financial obligations (e.g., an 80″ Sunreef Power catamaran). Besides, the tennnis great is not, by all accounts, an idiot.

Rafael Nadal's Richard Mille watch

Neither is Mr. Mille. His business depends on getting celebrities to wear his watches, so that the media can shamelessly pimp the price tag, so someone will actually pay it.

Don’t get me wrong: Richard Mille makes some bad ass timepieces. But when it comes to Nadal et al., think The Emperor’s New Clothes — where the Emperor gets his see-through duds for free and royal sycophants pay retail.

Rafael Nadal's Richard Mille watch in action

Actually, not Emperor. “Ambassador.”

That’s what watchmakers call celebs paid to pimp their wares. (Sounds a lot better than what pimps call their employees.) The question is: is it worth it? Is their a sufficient return on investment to justify the cost of hiring a big name face to sell a watch face?

There must be, right? Otherwise they wouldn’t do it. Then again . . .

Culture eats strategy for lunch.

What’s the bet that Rolex executives consider tickets to top-flight tennis, showjumping, golf, motor racing and yachting events – including first-class airfare, top-tier hotel accomodation, Michelin-level restaurants, coveted seating and celebrity schmoozing – a sacred job perk? Ditto the top dogs at Audemars Piguet, TAG Heuer and Seiko. All the way down the horological pantheon to . . .

the corporate citizens at Citizen.

Even if potential customers don’t care if Mr. Nadal wore a $725 Richard Mille at the U.S. Open, or that Naomi Osaka wore a $700 titanium Citizen Eco-Drive Bluetooth, rest assured, someone does.

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