If you watched televised golf in the 1980s and ’90s, then this Talking Watches guest is someone you know well. During his playing career, Greg Norman was a fixture on the PGA Tour who had a knack for being in contention in tournaments both large and small as they unfolded late on Sunday afternoons. (When Norman himself mentioned that he selected a certain watch to play with because it didn’t reflect too much light in the afternoon sun, I found myself knowingly nodding along.) In all, he spent a total of 331 weeks as the world number-one, winning 91 international tournaments, 20 of which were PGA Tour events, as well as two British Open Championships. Norman came in second in seven other majors, and his status as an all-time great was cemented when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001.
But what’s equally impressive is the second act of Norman’s professional life. His activities since leaving the game of golf can be seen as a kind of how-to manual for athletes seeking to parlay a fruitful playing career into success in business. In fact, Norman was well on his way to becoming the manager of a global brand long before he sank his last professional putt, when he took over his own management from IMG in 1993. In the years since, Greg Norman has made a name for himself in wine, real estate, private equity, golf course design, entertainment, and, perhaps most famously, athletic apparel, with the eponymous Greg Norman Collection, famous for its Shark logo.
It turns out that watches have played a prominent role in Greg Norman’s life too, both as a professional golfer who enjoyed endorsement deals with Rolex, Omega, and Ebel, and as an executive who appreciates and enjoys watches suited to specific situations – whether its a Patek Annual Calendar in the boardroom or a Rolex Submariner for a weekend of diving. This is your official Talking Watches with golf legend Greg Norman.
Ebel Worn While Winning The 1986 British Open
Greg Norman was one of the first golfers of the modern era to don a wristwatch while playing. Understanding that large or heavy timepieces might interfere with his swing, he opted for this thin, quartz-powered Ebel, which he famously wore while winning the 1986 British Open. Horologically speaking, this small, black-dialed gold timepiece may be pretty ho-hum, but Norman says he liked the way it wasn’t overly reflective and thus didn’t distract him while putting.
Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 16758 In 18k Yellow Gold
Norman’s tenure as a Rolex ambassador spanned decades and overlapped with several of the best years of his playing career. Over the years, he owned and wore a number of watches from the Rolex catalog. This unworn gold GMT-Master is a keepsake from the end of his time with the Crown.
Rolex Submariner Ref. 16618 With Blue Dial And Bezel
Living in South Florida (and at one time owning a boat), Norman’s lifestyle is well-suited to a gold Submariner. He recalls with a grin that he actually used to dive with this solid gold reference 16618 until he had the unsettling experience of barracudas being attracted to its shiny case and bracelet. Yikes.
Rolex Submariner ‘Hulk’
Another Submariner in Norman’s collection is this “Hulk,” which earned its nickname due to its green dial and bezel. Norman received this watch as a birthday gift from a friend in Australia. He told us that he thinks watches are thoughtful gifts not just because they have the potential to cost quite a bit, but also because the giver really has to know a thing or two about the recipient’s likes, dislikes, and overall taste.
Patek Philippe Ref. 5035 Annual Calendar
For the last several years, Norman has been building a diverse range of businesses, and from time to time he’s found himself reaching for a watch that makes an impression in a boardroom. This Patek Philippe reference 5035 annual calendar, the first example of such a complication in the world, certainly fits the bill.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra XXL Small Seconds
When Norman captained the International Team in the 2011 President’s Cup at Royal Melbourne in Australia, Omega presented him with an opportunity to gift each of his teammates a watch. Norman presented each member of the International Team with this massive, 18k gold, hand-wound wristwatch. At 50mm in diameter, this watch has some serious wrist presence and comes with a beautiful white enamel dial.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT ‘Deep Black’ And The Seamaster Planet Ocean Chronograph ‘Ceragold’
These two Omega Seamasters, the first in solid ceramic and the second in gold with a ceramic bezel, are some of Norman’s favorite watches to wear while on his ranch in Colorado. When he visits this remote property, he likes to have a durable watch that will stand up to a bit of hard wearing and keep reliable time in the event he finds himself hiking out of cell phone range.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak In 18k Yellow Gold
This classic of modern watch design, an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, has a proud home in Greg Norman’s collection. Norman recalls flying to Brunei to play a nighttime exhibition match with three other professional players. At the conclusion of the exhibition, the Sultan of Brunei gifted Norman with this solid gold Royal Oak. As Norman says, “Every watch has a story.” And this one is a pretty cool story, indeed.
Cartier Pasha de Cartier Calendar Watch
Another watch with a design from Gérald Genta, though with a completely different look from the above Royal Oak, is this Cartier Pasha Calendar watch with moon phase. Norman purchased the watch for himself while in Dubai. He said that he was attracted to the physicality of a watch’s design, and that he appreciates watch mechanisms. A complicated calendar watch with a bold design such as this one’s certainly ticks both boxes.