The Robb Reader: Greg Norman

<< Back to Robb Report, December 2008

In recent years, Greg Norman’s accomplishments as a businessman have nearly overshadowed the feats that made him famous in the first place. This trend reversed last summer, when the 53-year-old Florida resident carried a lead into the final day of the British Open at Royal Birkdale. Norman, who has won the Open twice, finished in a tie for third place, but his performance sparked a media frenzy—and reminded the world that the Great White Shark is, first and foremost, a great golfer. Of course, Norman’s competitive drive has also served him well in the business world, where his endeavors span the range from golf apparel and course design (see "Swinging with the Shark," page 154) to wines and beef. About the only thing Norman does not have a hand in is the watch industry, which may explain why he enjoys spending leisure time supplementing his collection of more than 40 fine timepieces.

Which of your watches do you wear most often?

I have about eight that I wear regularly. If I’m going diving or fishing, I’ll wear the rubber-strap Bulgari. Right now, I’m on a trip in Napa Valley, and I’m wearing an Ebel chronograph—the black one with the red stitching. I also have quite a few Breitlings that I wear on a regular basis. I have one that I wear up in the mountains when I go hunting; it’s got GPS, so if you fall off the edge of a cliff, somebody can find you.

 

What do you wear for a night out with your wife?

If I’m wearing gold cuff links, I’ll wear a gold Audemars Piguet. I also have quite a few silver [Audemars Piguets]. I think they’re beautiful dress watches. I’ve also got a platinum Harry Winston watch that I wear a lot because it’s got that rugged elegance. You can wear it out at nighttime for dinner, or on a golf course, or climbing in the mountains.

 

What do you enjoy most about watches?

From a man’s perspective, the only thing he can really wear that’s like jewelry is his watch or a good tie or cuff links. I wear a wedding band, but I don’t wear any other kinds of jewelry, so to me a watch kind of stands out. I love going into my collection to look around and see what I have, and sometimes I find one and think, "Jesus, I forgot I had this watch."

 

Do you collect anything else?

I don’t, really—not even the wines. I buy the wines to drink, not to collect them. I don’t care how good the bottle is, I’m not going to let it sit there for 30 years for some other idiot to drink [laughs]. I’m going to drink it myself. The other day, I opened up a bottle of Château Margaux on the plane with Chrissie [Evert, Norman’s wife]. We’re flying somewhere, so why not? It’s a beautiful wine, and you’d rather have it be used than just sit there.

 

What do you consider the ultimate luxury?

I don’t look at some things—things that I have that people think are luxurious—as the ultimate luxuries. Like a G550. That’s a business tool. I couldn’t do what I do in the business world without it, so I don’t see that as a toy. But for me, probably a big yacht is the ultimate luxury, because at the end of the day it is very much a materialistic thing.

 

What’s your favorite part about yachting?

One thing that I didn’t like is that everybody went to the same place every year: the Mediterranean. It was like Groundhog Day. I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing, and that’s why I built Aussie Rules—to go to archipelagos, circumnavigate Australia, or go to the Maldives or the Seychelles, do something different and get away from the mainstream.

 

You sold Aussie Rules a few years back. Do you plan to buy another yacht?

I would say yes, but it wouldn’t be anytime soon the way the U.S. dollar is. I’ll let the dust settle a little bit, but I do love it. I like to work hard, to get my fingernails dirty. I liked building Aussie Rules because I like to see the end product. I saw it in the beginning, and I worked on it all the way to see what it was like when it was finished. And it turned out to be a magnificent yacht. I’m actually very sad that I sold it.

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