Timekeeping in sport

Time. Not something that we really focus on when we get lost in our favourite sport. We get so mesmerised that we seem to lose track of it altogether.


Timekeeping is a vital aspect of many sports. Without it some games could last a lifetime. And sometimes that all important win can come down to a fraction of a second.


So what brands are keeping everything in check at some of our favourite sporting events?


Formula 1 Racing


Probably the most essential element of motorsports is timekeeping. How else would we record racers’ times and positions to determine the results? But this is no job for the faint hearted. With race speeds up to 223mph only the top timekeeping equipment is fit to do the job in this sport.


In 1974 Heuer was appointed as the Official Timekeeper for Formula 1 when the brand introduced the Automatic Car Identification Timing System (ACIT). The principles of this system are still in use today whereby a small transponder is attached to each race car that transmits radio waves. These radio waves feed data to timing loops that are set all around the race track; allowing the cars to be tracked and timed accurately each time they pass by.


Later down the line of F1 history a company called MYLAPS started to provide all the transponder-based timing equipment for the event and remain to do so to this day. In fact, the current Official Timekeeper, Rolex, uses MYLAPS technology and equipment to time the event.


In layman's terms, MYLAPS is the technical official timekeeper, with Rolex having the marketing and branding rights. Typical.

After being appointed as Official Timekeeper in 2013, Rolex's branding pretty much goes unnoticed around the whole track. However, despite this heavy presence from such a watchmaking giant, its argued that the link between the precision of timing fast events like F1 and the skills of watchmaking have diverged in many ways.

The takeover of alternate technology like MYLAPS raises the argument that watchmaking and motorsport timing now bear very little relation to each other – with the flame only being kept alive by the historical link between motor racing and the chronograph.


Premier League Football


Someone’s got to count all that stoppage time, right. And we all know there’s a lot of it.

Shunting TAG Heuer off the top spot in 2020, Hublot became the new Official Timekeeper for Premier League football and it’s a pretty fitting match. After all, millionaire footballers do like the more expensive timepieces (Instagram doesn’t lie). The brand has partnered with the many of the game’s key players, including Kylian Mbappe, Didier Deschamps and Alex Morgan, who have joined the Hublot family amongst other legends like Pele and Diego Maradona. Probably why we see Hublots plastered all over Instagram.


As OT, the Hublot brand has pitch side presence at every game, along with having on-screen presence with their graphic on show in the top corner where the match score and time is shown. Hublot also provide referees with Big Bang smartwatches that are loaded with a dedicated application that allows the ref to time the match accurately. And not to forget, my favourite, the huge Big Bang shaped Referee Board.


Olympics


The daddy of all sporting events really isn’t it. Whoever gets this gig really has their work cut out for them don’t they.


… cue Omega!


Omega have dominated the Olympic title for Official Timekeeper since 1932 and have brought so much expertise to the event over these years. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Omega’s timekeeping equipment was used to record a staggering 339 events in 33 different sports.


But the smooth running of the Games isn’t something that Omega have been able to achieve overnight. This ability to be such a master of timekeeping has been crafted over many years, with Omega having introduced several pieces of ground-breaking timekeeping equipment to the Games from pressure-sensitive start pads all the way through to the Magic Eye. Their equipment has to be ridiculously accurate in order to determine the correct results and even detect tiny discrepancies and false starts. So how do Omega achieve all of this?

Not with a simple stop watch that’s for sure. In fact, Today, Omega timekeeping is based on the Quantum Timer, which has an enhanced resolution of one millionth of a second. Powered by a component created by Micro Crystal and incorporated into the timer, it boasts a resolution 100 times higher than previous devices and, with a maximum variation of just one second every ten million seconds, it is five times more accurate than a simple stopwatch.


And as if it’s not enough that Omega provide, innovate and constantly improve on such elite pieces of equipment, they treat us further by bringing out Summer and Winter Olympic Edition watches for every Games. (Please feel free to check out our blog post on that if you’re interested to see Omega’s Olympic collection).


These these kids are killing it, in my opinion they are the sport timing winners.


Wimbledon Tennis


The oldest tennis tournament in the world. Synonymous with strawberries and cream and an array of Rolex ambassadors sporting the unofficial watch of the event, The "Wimbledon" dial Datejust 41 watch.


Since 1978 Rolex has been the Official Timekeeper for the tournament and to honest they do very little for the event other than plaster their branding everywhere and make the event more pretentious than it already is (similar story to the F1). Sorry Wimbledon fans. But fair play to them for taking that opportunity. Afterall, what better place to slap their branding than Wimbledon?


From the wrists of players, to electronic scoreboards and banners, we see the Rolex branding all over the stadium. But literally, that's it. Rolex just sponsor the scoreboard and clocks to keep us on track with the game timings and information. I guess someone's got to do it.


Poor Omega working their butts off at the Olympics.


I suppose what we have to reflect on here is is there really a need for an Official Timekeeper in certain sports that don't really require it? Other than as a marketing opportunity? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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