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Championship watches help commemorate the time of their lives

Getting watch designs that work equally well on men’s and women’s models can prove to be tricky. Submitted by MTM Recognition

To the victor, and sometimes to the participants, go the spoils. The NCAA presents a commemorative watch to all members of each national title-winning team in 88 of its 90 championships. For the Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, each qualifying team in the tournament receives watches, while the words “Final Four” are reserved for those who advance to the national semifinals.  

The gifts result from a collaboration between the NCAA and MTM Recognition. Since 2007, the Oklahoma-based company has worked closely with the NCAA national office to ensure the championship trophy isn’t the only shiny object headed to campus after the big win. 

“Our owner has a philosophy,” says Bob Thomas, the company’s vice president of operations. “He thinks having an awards ceremony without the award is like performing a heart surgery without the heart.” 

The customization process starts with meetings between the NCAA championships and alliances staff and MTM Recognition. Design renderings are shared until everyone signs off.  

The NCAA orders watches for those in the teams’ travel parties, including players, coaches, administrators and other staff. Schools can order additional watches. 

Though traditional designs are favored because of the prestige of the NCAA championships, the look of the watches is tweaked every two or three years to keep it up-to-date. The size of a watch face, however, makes major changes difficult. 

MTM Recognition purchases the watches and then disassembles them, removing the hour, minute and second hands, along with the retail dial. A custom dial is placed in the watch, and the hands are reassembled. 

“We direct-print onto that dial the division and the year of the championship,” says Deana Webber, the MTM Recognition account manager who works with the NCAA. “Updates happen whenever changes are made.” 

It adds up to all involved having a memento of their time in the spotlight. 

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.