Watches and Wheels
Coming up this weekend in Monaco is one of the most exciting auto-sports events in the world: Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix Racing. Taking place from May 23-26, some of the best drivers in the world – driving some of the most precise cars in the world. Joining the teams is a host of watch brands that are incredibly involved in the sport.
Rolex has the largest and most prominent space at the F1 races, as it is the Global Partner and Official Timekeeper of Formula 1 racing. It is also the Official Timepiece of F1. Rolex's involvement in F1 only dates back to 2013, when the Swiss watch brand snagged the Official Timekeeper role away from the previous holder. Rolex's involvement in auto sports dates back much further, though, to the 1950's when it made an alliance with FIA Formula 1 Drivers’ World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart, who continues to be a brand ambassador today. In fact, Rolex's association with Sir Jackie Steward began in 1968, and the partnership is celebrating 50 years this year. Additionally, former F1 driver, Mark Webber is a brand ambassador for Rolex. At every Grand Prix, Rolex has the Official Rolex Pit Lane Clock, and does the timing.
2. Tag Heuer
TAG Heuer has a long-running history in F1, largely spent with the McLaren team. The company was first involved with F1 in the 1970s as Ferrari’s official timekeeping partner, but switched to McLaren in 1985 following its takeover by TAG and then-chairman Mansour Ojjeh’s arrival at the F1 team as an investor. The McLaren partnership ended for 2016, when TAG Heuer became a partner of Red Bull, which has rebranded its Renault engines under the watch company’s name. The Tag Heuer Monaco, Steve Mcqueen was created on behalf of his untimely death. Steve Mcqueen wore a Heuer crest on his racing suit and a square-dial Monaco on his wrist.
3. Bell & Ross
Visually speaking, the series of watches launched by Bell & Ross in 2016 celebrating their partnership with the Renault F1 team was easily one of the more cleverly designed F1 watches we’ve seen in a while. Picking up on both the team’s colours (black and yellow), as well as the multitude of highlight colours found on the R.S.17’s steering wheel, the forged carbon BR-X1 is a prime example of a truly motorsport-centric timepiece.
4. Richard Mille
Other brands involved in F1 racing are more about sponsoring teams and having brand ambassadors on their roster. Richard Mille, for instance is a sponsor of three teams, including Haas, Alfa Romeo Sauber and McLaren. As Richard Mille is a big racecar enthusiast, he has a special affinity for this field. In fact, his original RM001- launched in 2001 – is based on concepts he found in Formula 1 racecar design. To this day, the brand continues to look to F1 racing for materials, and for performance inspirations. Felipe Massa, who retired from Formula 1, was Richard Mille’s first brand partner continues as a brand ambassador today, wearing his Richard Mille watches while driving. Richard Mille also is the official timekeeper of two of the Formula 1 racetracks: Yas Marina and Paul Ricard.
Oris have been partners with Williams since 2003, when they signed a deal with Frank Williams and the F1 team. And, as is often the case with partnerships like these, special editions ensued. Just prior to the joint venture, Oris had launched the TT1. A rugged, sporty chronograph with a steel case, rubber bezel and rubber strap. The familiar thick Oris lugs gave the watch a beefy look. In 2006 the partnership bore the first watch linked to a driver, Nico Rosberg specifically. His father, Keke Rosberg became champion with the team in 1982, his first year with Williams F1. The debut of Nico was quite a moment in the sport as there aren’t that many father-son stories in F1, especially ones where both are employed by the same team. To celebrate, Oris launched a titanium timepiece with a few neat touches. As you might remember, F1 drove with grooved tires for a number of years, which were replicated by the rubber strap on the watch. Nico’s number 10 in blue is embossed on the carbon fibre dial.