April 23rd, 2012 Add comment
Sponsor Spotlight: Jaeger-leCoultre
Texaco Trophy 2011 - Clive Bennett
Sponsorship is a vital support for polo clubs, events, teams and individual players. In this new series, LivingPolo talks to some of the prestigious brands that are involved in the sport and to their Brand Ambassadors. In this first Sponsor Spotlight, IPM's Tracey Sheeran talks to Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-leCoultre, whose legendary Reverso is synonymous with the qualities of passion, elegance and precision that are at the heart of polo.
Of all the timepieces associated with polo, the Jaeger leCoultre Reverso is perhaps the most iconic and the brand's history is closely intertwined with the sport. In 1930 César de Trey thought of how to create a functional yet beautiful timepiece to wear while playing polo, as a friend had cracked the face of his watch during a match. De Trey asked his good friend Jacques-David LeCoultre to create a model sturdy enough to be able to stand up to polo playing without being damaged.
The skilled watchmakers of the Grande Maison Jaeger-leCoultre took on the challenge of developing the Reverso: an elegant watch capable of surviving the rigours of polo. The new design was based on a simple, innovative idea, namely an entirely swiveling case which flips to protect the dial and expose only the metal back to shocks.
Today, Jaeger-LeCoultre is more closely linked to polo than ever, thanks to their support of the high goal La Aguada team and their four international Brand Ambassadors. LivingPolo spoke to Isabelle Gervais, International PR Director of Jaeger-leCoultre at their historical home in Switzerland's Vallée de Joux:
"The association of Jaeger-leCoultre with polo is almost like a long love affair. The functionality and elegance of the Reverso perfectly mirrors the core attributes of the game and as a company we feel that our long history with polo is part of our brand identity. Over the decades as tastes became more urban and refined, so too did our watches, we introduced smaller models, jewelled cases and more ornate lines. However with the Reverso Squadra, launched to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the original Reverso, we returned to our more sporty roots and the Squadra has a more robust feel.
In 2012 we are continuing our association with the La Aguada team for the Argentine Open and we remain the official timekeepers of Cowdray Park, home of the British Open, the Gold Cup. Being a Swiss brand, we are also involved in various events at home, including the Polo Masters in Geneva. We also support smaller polo events, notably charity tournaments.
The Jaeger-leCoultre brand managers in each country all tend to be very passionate and knowledgeable about polo, so they help in evaluating polo opportunities. As a core marketing strategy, we prefer to be associated with long-standing events, around which we can plan different activities that build brand awareness. A perfect example of this is the Argentine Open, where we traditionally host a VIP reception in Buenos Aires (at the Palacio Duhau, Park Hyatt) and it is a fantastic tournament to which we can invite journalists from around the world. The level of the games is unparalleled anywhere in the world and it is our privilege to introduce our press partners to the best demonstration of high goal at the cathedral of polo in Palermo. A great highlight for us was several years ago when La Aguada and La Dolfina faced each other in the Finals of the Abierto, as two of our Brand Ambassadors (Eduardo Novillo Astrada and Adolfo Cambiaso) took to the field both wearing Squadra Reversos.
In 2012 we are continuing to develop our relationships with our Brand Ambassadors Eduardo Novillo Astrada and Lia Salvo in Argentina and Luke Tomlinson and Clare Milford Haven in the UK. We continue to work with these fantastic players who embody the values of the Jaeger-leCoultre brand and who reflect the passion, commitment, spirit and long term commitment to the sport, attributes that we value so highly."
Clare Milford Haven (Clare Mountbatten, Marchioness of Milford Haven) spoke to LivingPolo to elaborate on her involvement with polo and the relationship that she has with Jaeger-leCoultre as one of their two lady Ambassadors:
LP: How did you start in Polo?
CMH: I first started about 12 years ago when my husband George suggested that "I have a go". I had competed in other equestrian disciplines before but had only once sat on a polo pony, but George encouraged me to try my hand at stick and balling and I instantly loved it!
LP: What were your first steps to becoming a successful zero goal player?
CMH: I bought my first pony from Alan Kent and started to take lessons sporadically. I also attended a course at Whitfield Court polo school run by the legendary Major Hugh Dawnay in Ireland, but am not sure that I proved to be a very promising student! The first tournament that I played in was a mixed tournament with my White Mischief team at Knepp Castle. José Donoso, the brilliant 7 goaler was the only man on our team and he said that playing with us girls was more exhausting than playing in high goal polo in Argentina, because we were SO bad. But in the end José helped to made up for our inexperience and we actually won the tournament!
LP: You obviously improved a lot since then and now compete in medium goal
CMH: I joined Cowdray Park (where I now have 10 ponies) and began to improve to the point where I could participate in 8 goal polo and gradually moved up to playing 12 and 15 goal. This year our Jaeger-leCoultre team will play the full season at Cowdray in medium goal. The team is made up of Nina Clarkin (currently the highest ranked lady player in the world at 4 goals), Bautista Sorzana (6) William Beresford (4) and myself on zero. I played in the Gold Cup in 2008 with my team the Bucking Broncos. It was an amazing one-off experience which I feel very fortunate to have had'.
I also play in medium goal tournaments in Argentina, where I keep a small string of ponies and get to link up with fellow Jaeger-leCoultre Brand Ambassador Lia Salvo.
LP: When did you become a Brand Ambassador for Jaeger-leCoultre?
CMH: It was actually as far back as 2003. I wanted to have more control of putting together and managing a competitive team, so I rather boldly approached Jaeger-leCoultre with a relatively small and modest sponsorship proposal and to my delight, they loved the idea! I was lucky enough to be their first Ambassador in polo and over the years our relationship has grown even stronger. They are fantastic at supporting my charity, the James Wentworth-Stanley Memorial Fund, and I have also played in some of the other charity events that the brand supports internationally.
LP: What does it mean to you to be a Brand Ambassador?
CMH: I feel very honoured to represent Jaeger-leCoultre both on and off the polo field. I am very aware of the responsibility that comes with this position and I hope that I manage to represent the high standards that the brand represents.
LP: So to the question that everyone must ask you: how many watches do you have?
CMH: I am very lucky in that I actually have three Reversos. My favourite is a rose gold Lady Squadra Duetto with diamonds and a black leather strap, but the watch I wear when playing polo is my old classic Reverso with a sturdy rubber strap!
The Reverso Classic is still the company's best-selling model, although the range has been developed to include the Reverso Squadra (a more square shape and more sturdy sports version) and in 2011 and to mark the 80th anniversary of the Reverso, Jaeger-leCoultre launched the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin range, its slim case at just 2.94mm makes it both light and comfortable to wear thanks to its subtly curved shape. For more information please visit the website: www.jaeger-lecoultre.com
Tracey Sheeran is Managing Director of International Polo Management, you can contact Tracey at email@example.com