Evolution of a collection: Nick Faldo’s watch box steers well clear of the roughD.C. Hannay
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when golfing and broadcast legend Sir Nick Faldo recently ended his final broadcast as CBS’ golf analyst for the past 16 years.
With a career that includes 41 tournament wins, including three British Open and three Masters victories, as well as captaining the European Ryder Cup team, Faldo had nothing left to prove when he began his stint in network broadcast back in 2007. His final broadcast was an emotional one to be sure, with a heartfelt sendoff from his longtime colleague, Jim Nantz.
Being the avid watch spotters that we are at Time + Tide, it was a bit surprising when an elegant Blancpain reference was spied on his wrist during the broadcast (more on that later), considering how closely associated Faldo has been with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak for the bulk of his career. We reckon it’s high time to go to the highlight reel for a look at some of the tastier timepieces in his watch box.
Nick was a longtime ambassador for Audemars Piguet, with several special limited editions associated with him. And while there were many variants, we’ll take a look at three of our favourites.
Firstly, we have a highly unusual Royal Oak, the limited edition 56175TT, known as the Championship “Nick Faldo”. His name wasn’t on the watch itself, but it was created by AP in honour of his back-to-back Masters and British Open championships in 1990, and it’s the first Royal Oak associated with Faldo. Right off the tee, it’s on the small side at 33mm in diameter, but it boasts a remarkable wrist presence for a smaller Royal Oak, due to its tantalum and steel construction. Tantalum is notoriously difficult to work with, incredibly strong, and has an unmistakable blue hue, so this RO is no shrinking violet.
The quartz timepiece came in a highly sought special green leather boxed set, which included a raft of AP-branded accessories, including cufflinks, a belt buckle, an octagonal pillbox, a keychain, a pendant, and a bracelet, all crafted from tantalum and steel.
Next up is the gorgeous Royal Oak 15097OR from 1997, a 36mm model in rose gold with a a stunning silver petite tapisserie dial. It’s a winning combination, with the grey playing off the pink of the gold beautifully. A limited edition of 325, the watch features a 36-jewel Caliber 2225 automatic movement, and something a little extra: a set of Mizuno golf clubs, branded with the AP logo and Faldo’s signature, presented in a matching bag. Now that’s a special edition.
Here’s the limited edition most closely associated with Faldo: the Royal Oak 15190SP from 2002. A limited release of 450, the 36mm steel model features a platinum bezel, automatic movement, and a bold “military style” black dial with large Arabic numerals. In a cool Easter egg, the movement’s rotor is emblazoned with Faldo’s signature and a dimpled golf ball texture. Like the 15097OR, this set also included the Faldo/AP co-branded clubs and bag.
In contrast to the global recognition of the Royal Oak, here’s one that’s far more likely to have slipped under your radar: the Faldo Series Watch NF1 by Jaermann & Stübi. The Swiss brand produces limited numbers of golf-specific watches, a niche to be sure, but the watch has a unique patented golf counter complication. Additionally, it’s highly shock-resistant, which means there’s no need to remove it during play. The limited edition of 72 features a modified Soprod Caliber A10-2 movement, 100 metres of water resistance, and a 44m diameter case that features a unique twist: the cases were forged from the clubs used by Faldo to win his last professional tournament, the 1997 Los Angeles Open. Faldo lent his name to the NF1 to promote the Faldo Series, his nonprofit that benefits up-and-coming golfers.
Recently, Nick has been expanding his horizons regarding watches that aren’t named Royal Oak, and it seems he’s found a lot to like in Blancpain. At the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews, Faldo rocked the massive (and massively awesome) titanium Fifty Fathoms 500 Fathoms.
This leviathan of the deep is no joke: the 48mm case features a manual helium escape valve, and good thing, since the watch is rated to 100 bars of water resistance. That’s 1,000 metres, for those playing at home. Complete overkill, but what a total beast. The movement is something else, too. The Caliber 1315 has 35 jewells, a silicon balance spring, and a whopping 120 hour power reserve. All that capability retails for a mere $24,700 USD.
Finally, here’s Faldo’s most recent watch spot: the lovely Blancpain Villeret Quantieme Perpetuel Phases de Lune, Reference 6656 1127 55B worn during his final broadcast on CBS during the 2022 Wyndham Championship in North Carolina. A perpetual calendar with moonphase display, it’s complicated without being cluttered, due to its 40mm case that’s almost all clean, white dial. The automatic 32-jewell Caliber 5954.4 movement has a 72 hour power reserve, and quite frankly, is heartbreakingly gorgeous, resplendent in all its gold-rotored, engine-turned, Geneva-striped glory. We’re not sure when Nick picked this one up, but congratulations, sir. That’s one helluva retirement watch.