Current men's doubles World No. 1 Matthew Ebden on his love for watches

The three-time Grand Slam champion and Australian Open Men’s Doubles Winner 2024 spoke to us about his watch-collecting journey
2024 has gotten off to a great start for Matthew Ebden. Last month, the Australian professional tennis player added another accolade to his list of wins - he already has 10 ATP Tour doubles titles under his belt, including the 2022 Wimbledon Championship alongside Max Purcell - by lifting the trophy for the 2024 Australian Open Men's Doubles, with partner Rohan Bopanna. On the heels of that, Ebden recently became the men's doubles World No. 1, making him the fifth Australian male to secure the position after 32 years.

It’s no surprise then that Ebden, who turned pro 18 years ago, lives and breathes tennis. However, when he is not spending time on courts, it is watches that have his attention. Ebden joined British watch brand Bremont in 2022 as its brand ambassador for the last two years, and won the 2022 Wimbledon Doubles Championship wearing Bremont’s Supermarine S302 on a steel bracelet. Most recently, during his 2024 Australian Open win and ascent to the World #1 ranking, he was spotted with a turquoise Norqain Independence Wild One Skeleton. Ebden says that he often decompresses by reading about watches, sometimes up to three hours in the night. And having fallen in love with watches at a young age, today he rarely misses an opportunity to pick up a watch from the different countries he travels to while on tour.

WatchTime India caught up with Matt Ebden to know more about his love for watches...

WatchTime India: When and how did your interest in watches develop?
Matt Ebden: My interest in watches developed first as a young boy, when my father bought me a really cool black and yellow Swatch dive watch when I was 6 or 7 years old, when he returned from a trip. Then when I turned 18, my sister bought me a nice Pulsar watch by Seiko. And then I got a watch when I got married. In my twenties, I started to earn and acquire some really cool and important watches through some sponsors, gifts, and purchases, and some of my collection consists of brands like Norqain, Bremont, Maurice de Mauriac, Furlan Marri, Rolex, Rado, Girard-Perregaux, Doxa, Isotope, Bamford and SevenFriday among others.

Matt Ebden and his Maurice de Mauriace L3 Chronograph

I would say that about 10 years ago I started seriously collecting watches from each country or watches that reminded me of a country or a specific tournament, or was made or manufactured in a certain country. Obviously, Switzerland has watches made there. There are [watches from] England, Japan, USA, some Australian brands, China, Hong Kong, France, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany and more. Being a traveller and a tennis player, I get to visit different countries and markets, and I like the watches with stories behind them, and also a strong design aspect.

WTI: What features of a watch entice you the most?
ME: Mostly sports watches and dress watches, as that’s what my life really is about. It is important that a sports watch is truly a sports watch though, and is light enough and can handle the rigours of real sports activity and the outdoors. Also the last few years I have also become a bit of a strap geek and I have 100s of different types of straps - leather, rubber, canvas, suede and of course steel bracelets. I also love experimenting with different colours and materials. Straps are fun for photography, matching outfits, and for Instagram.

Bamford Automatic GMT Steel

At the same time, I also like having multiple watches because I'm always in the gym, or on a tennis court or travelling. So I love GMTs. I also love beaches and boating, so dive watches are good too. And then there are dress watches as I have to attend functions and events.

The features that entice me the most are the design and aesthetics of unique-looking watches. Whilst I do love alot of classic watches, I definitely get excited by watches that have a bit of a colour or the perfect design proportion - something that’s not too oversized, and fits well.

WTI: What are the brands you like, and which are your grail watches?
ME: Stay tuned on my instagram, we are working on some cool new projects that are at the forefront of modern watchmaking and the future of the watch industry. We have some exciting things coming up. However, some other more historical, really great pieces I’ve come to appreciate over time are the Cartier Tank, the blue calibre 11 TAG Heuer Monaco, and I am a sucker for perpetual calendars from Patek Philippe, particularly the 5970J.

WTI: Do watches accompany you while you play?
ME: I don't always wear a watch when I play. I wear a watch sometimes during practice or exhibition [matches] or things like that. But there are some really interesting, super-light carbon based watches out there now and there is now a realistic proposition to wear them while playing, as they are truly becoming beautiful unique, mechanical true sports watches, like the Norqain Wild One.

Matt Ebden wearing Norqain Wild One

WTI: Do you like / collect vintage watches?
ME: I do like vintage watches. I love some old perpetual calendars, triple calendars, and moonphases. I definitely love gold - I have a couple of old pieces but nothing too old and too crazy yet. With the vintage collecting side definitely comes a lot of upkeep, maintenance, servicing and the need for a great relationship with a great watchmaker, otherwise I would be very cautious when diving into old vintage watches.

WTI: A favourite watch story...
ME: There is one. For many years I wanted a 36mm Rolex Datejust in steel and gold due to its perfect design proportions and in my eyes it was an archetypal design. After five years of chasing it, a close friend who had one was selling it, and I traded with him. And one day, I left that watch in a hotel room in Melbourne during Australian Open. One day we went back to the room and it had been cleaned and the watch was no longer where I left, and hotel staff said they did not find my watch in the room. We filed the complaint, and after 4-5 days the hotel cleaners told us they found the watch and it was miraculously returned to me.

WTI: Do you have any set rules that you follow when you buy watches?
ME: I think the key is making sure the watch has value. I don't like some of the ways some of the watch brands are going with pricing these days. I understand inflation and costs have gone up alot, but I still feel the watch should hold reasonable value whilst still being a luxury item.

Girard Perregaux Laureato Automatic

WTI: Do you tend to customise your pieces, before or after you buy them, in any way? Ever created your own watch?
ME: A little bit. After winning Wimbledon a couple of years ago, Bremont sent me a beautiful ALT1C chronograph customised timepiece engraved with my name and ‘Wimbledon Champion’, and the date on the back, so that was a special piece. Other than that, [I customise] mainly with straps to give the watch a whole different look.

WTI: Since the time you started collecting, what have been your learnings about buying, selling and wearing watches?
ME: Size really matters!! It's important to know the dimensions of your wrists. Make sure of the lugs width and case width because oversized watches look funny.

Maurice De Mauriac Le Mans Edition

WTI:How would you say watches have played a role in your life and your career?
ME: With so many years of travelling with tennis, you can get caught up with thinking tennis 24 hours a day. So, I definitely use my time to explore and read and learn about the watch industry. I read 2-3 hours a day, sometimes at night, about watches. It is my way to switch off from tennis and learn about my hobby.

WTI:How do you think you have evolved as a collector?
ME: As a collector, you start to get more picky and choosy as you have more watches or when you've accumulated more watches. Then you need a really big reason to buy a new one, otherwise you will have too many watches. You get more selective with time. I started enjoying buying watches from the people that I know now, and to celebrate occasions and moments in time.

Matt Ebden and his Bremont Broadsword Bronze

WTI: What do watches mean to you?
ME: Watches are symbolic - they mark moments in time, special memories, special places, and events, like the watches I got on my 18th and 21st birthday, the watch that I wore on my wedding, watches that I wore during the Wimbledon, Australian Open, Davis Cup, and other special times.I think it's a special connection when they are tied to a special memory and time.

Images: Courtesy Matt Ebden and his Instagram

Launched in 2012, WatchTime India is the result of a collaboration between America's most-read watch magazine, WatchTime and, India's leading media house, Malayala Manorama. With an aim to popularise and celebrate the evolving watch culture of the country, the publication is your one-stop destination for everything related to fine luxury watches. From the latest tests to reviews, to exclusive features on the history and horological heritage of some of the most spectacular watch brands of the world, the WatchTime India portal has a lot to offer. Stay tuned for an exciting journey, through the fascinating world of watches!

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