Important note: My hands are shaking so much it’s hard to type. Why? Michael Klim, the Australian Olympian who did this to the Americans in 2000 – it’s embedded below, too. Sorry Americans.) just saw me in the gym and offered to do a ‘light circuit’ with me. I accepted. And now, I can’t type. I was already going to get him to co-chair the first ever Olympic themed Wind Down, where there’s a dual focus on what happened in the world of watches and at the 32nd Olympiad. Now he’s going to have to write it too. This comes to you live from Omega House in Ipanema. Yes, the song is playing. I think it’s on a loop here. For proof, and a live feed, check out Instagram Stories.
AM : The only other pro sports person to do the Friday Wind Down so far is Sids (Australian cricketer Peter Siddle) – have you two ever crossed paths?
MK: I love Sids. We’ve got the same management company. I sent him some KLIM (my brand’s) sunscreen samples to get his feedback – obviously he has quite a fair complexion and he spends a lot of time in the outfield. I remember the day in that Boxing Day test when he got the hat trick. I’m not as fanatical about watches as him and I don’t collect, but I’ve had a pretty long association with Omega.
AM: Were you and the guys in the swimming team much into watches back in the day?
MK: Coming up as athletes we didn’t really have that disposable income – we were into sports watches to train more than anything else. But Omega’s always been the official timekeeper of FINA and there’s always been big swimmers associated with the sport – Popov, Thorpe, Phelps and probably others. I trained with Popov for eight years and he was the face of the brand at that time. He moved to Australia after Barcelona in ’93 where he won two gold medals. He was the tzar of sprint, a 6 foot 8 giant. My roommate Matt Dunn once bought a watch in duty free, I remember it well, it was a Breitling – the whole team would usually just stand around the cases staring at them. These days my favourite’s probably the big chunky Seamaster Planet Ocean from the Commonwealth Games in 2006, which was a gift from the brand. We’d bagged a gold in the 4 x 100 medley which was the last event.
AM: Ceri looked at who wore the Rolex President best, pitting Bieber, Posh and Ike against each other. Who do you reckon wins?
MK: I love when girls wear men’s watches. My ex and now my current girlfriend always pinch my watches. It’s gone from boyfriend jeans to the watch. So it’s all Posh for me. No contest.
AM: Do you also have a love a women in Panerai?
MK: Yeah, all the way. It shows self confidence in the girl to wear a watch like that – a big, masculine one. It’s subliminal because it shows they have the same taste as you.
AM: Felix published the long-awaited Daytona review – one of the biggest and most hyped watches of the year. What do you think of it?
MK: The anticipation with this one was huge, and sometimes when the hype delivers, like this watch does, the hype gets even bigger. If you look at it, it’s slick, and slightly different with the white face. It’s very much the sort of watch I like. You could wear it with anything.
AM: In other news, the increasingly bitter John Cleese had a crack at watch prices, calling them ‘unbelievable’…
MK: Nah, I can justify it. Especially for milestone things, like the Commonwealth Games. I’ll get a watch for Rio. The workmanship that goes into one of these puppies, it’s intense, it’s not just machine stamped, you know – it’s a lot of time. I can definitely justify it. I struggle with a quarter of a million, half a million dollars, that kind of money.
AM: OK, aside from watch talk, what are your highlights from the week?
MK: Mack Horton, Kyle and the women’s freestyle relay. It’s surprising that the individual golds were from places we least expected. It shows there’s a new wave of swimmers coming through in the country. Within the swimming circles we knew Mack had potential and Kyle was one to look for in the future, but they’re here, right now. You’ve seen how hard it is to deliver on the big stage. Cate said she let her psyche get to her, McEvoy also said the occasion got the better of him. It’s funny that. It’s all individualised perception, because at the end of the day it’s just a swimming race. We create all this hype, this fear and then they think if the audience value it, we should too.
AM: We met Omega’s new chief executive, Raynald Aeschlimann – what were your impressions?
MK: I like him. He’s flamboyant. He’s not your typical Swiss. He’s quite opinionated. He didn’t mind giving us a serve last night when we didn’t win. It seems representative of where the brand’s going. He’s dynamic. And his support of Phelps shows great loyalty.
AM: Speaking of Phelps, how high do you rate his performance?
MK: There haven’t been too many successful comebacks as big as this one. He didn’t come back and just win, he dominated. You do ask yourself the question, could he do another four years? He still has the hundred fly to race. It’s going to be hard to win – he’s got to beat this Singaporean guy Schooling, who’s point seven of a second ahead of him.
The Week in Numbers
Michael Phelps breakfast of champions. (This is not a joke).
3: Fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise
2: Cups of coffee
5: Eggs in the omelette
1: Bowl of grits
3: Slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar
3: Chocolate-chip pancakes.
Thanks for your help Klimmy, let’s all just kick back and enjoy this one more time….