It’s not football. It’s not a sport that you’ll find on television. Its stars are not household names, and its reputation as a sport for the elite is in part justified by the costs involved in buying and maintaining several horses. But polo is no bed of roses: it is rated as one of the most dangerous sports in the world, with the perils that come from galloping in close proximity to other riders and horses intent on blocking your progress. Falls are frequent, and the rider risks ending up under a horse weighing up to 500 kilos. The pros take all this into their stride, and continue to stage the remarkable spectacle of eight riders thundering up and down the pitch trying to achieve the seemingly impossible task of connecting their stick with a small white ball and projecting it into the opponents’ goal.
The polo circuit travels around the world, attracting a select audience and sponsorship by some of the most famous high-end brands, such as Land Rover, Cartier, Piaget and Jaeger-LeCoultre. The story of the latter is particularly interesting, because not only its iconic Reverso watch, but also the name Jaeger-LeCoultre itself, were born from polo. In winter 1930-31, Swiss businessman and watch enthusiast César de Trey watched a polo match at a British Army club in India, and after the match, a player ruefully showed him his timepiece with a smashed watchglass. De Trey accepted the officer’s challenge to create a watch that would withstand the rigours of polo, and when he returned to Switzerland, he discussed his initial idea, for “a wristwatch which can slide on its base and flip over on itself,” with Jacques-David LeCoultre, owner of the company that was then named LeCoultre & Cie. LeCoultre turned to Parisian jeweller Jaeger to design and make this revolutionary case. The collaboration led to the Reverso, and, in 1932, to the definitive marriage of LeCoultre & Cie and Jaeger S.A.
So for Jaeger-LeCoultre, polo sponsorship is much more than just gaining visibility amongst the privileged spectators that the sport attracts. Polo is part of the brand’s DNA. Their ambassadors include some of the top players, such as Argentinean polo player Eduardo Novillo Astrada, one of the most famous players in the world, and Luke Tomlinson, captain of the England Polo team with a curriculum that includes wins in all U.K. trophies, the Argentine Club Cup and the Gold Cup. Luke has said that “Jaeger-LeCoultre and the Reverso have real reason and relevance in the polo world. The watch is an example of classic, understated innovation.”
One of the most engaging features of polo, like several equestrian sports, is that men and women can take part together, and Clare Mountbatten is also an ambassador. All together, they form a formidable team.
Upcoming polo events linked to Jaeger-LeCoultre include:
Argentine Polo Open, Palermo, 15 Nov-6 Dec 2014
British Polo Day, Mexico, 22 Nov 2014
British Polo Day, India, 12-14 Dec 2014
British Polo Day, Dubai, March 2015
British Polo Day, Abu Dhabi, March 2015
For further information, see www.britishpoloday.com