Watches and Formula 1 go together like racing cars and things that time how fast they are.
Time is very important in Formula 1. So it’s no surprise that watch manufacturers clamour to plaster their names over the fastest, most technically advanced racing cars in the world. And the likes of Jenson Button, above. Let’s take a look at who does what.
Rolex and Formula 1 in general
Rolex has considerable history in motorsport, having sponsored the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Le Mans 24 Hours for many years. This year, it took over from Tag Heuer as the official timekeeper of Formula 1. Rolex is beyond direct marketing of its partnerships, so there’s no official F1 watch, but this seems as good a time as any to take a look at the latest Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona. Named after the famous racing town in Florida, this edition marks 50 years of Daytonas and comes with an ice blue dial with chestnut brown highlights. Oh, and it’s made of platinum. Which means it costs a lot – $75,000. Oof.
Casio and Red Bull
Casio has a whole range of watches produced with Red Bull under the Edifice brand, the fanciest of which is this, the EFR-528RB-1A. It’s pretty low down on the tech side, being a battery-powered quartz watch at the more affordable end of the spectrum – $288 – but ooh, it’s shiny!
Hublot and Ferrari
The Ferrari marketing machine spans its road car range as well as F1, but you’ll need an F1-sized budget to afford Hublot’s MP-05 LaFerrari, named after and inspired by Maranello’s latest superdupercar. Costing a cool $300,000, it’s got a sapphire crystal face and a 5-day power reserve, which is a world record for a hand-wound tourbillion. Only 50 of the PVD titanium-cased über-watch are being made, making it rarer than its automotive namesake.
If that’s a bit out of your price range, Ferrari also does a range of battery-powered watches for a couple of hundred dollars each.
IWC Schaffhausen and Mercedes AMG
Mercedes’ watch partner IWC Schaffhausen has a whole range of watches directly inspired by Formula 1, called the Ingenieur range. The technological piece de resistance is the $290,000 Constant-Force Tourbillion model, with its fancy display of the moon’s surface and position in the sky. But we prefer the Automatic Carbon Performance shown above, hewn from carbon fibre on both the face and the case. The strap is made of rubber, with a choice of either yellow or red stitching to mirror the markings on soft and supersoft tyres. It costs a much more reasonable(ish) $26,400.
TAG Heuer and McLaren
These two firms have been in partnership for decades, a collaboration that has produced plenty of McLaren branded watches over the years. Indeed, the Swiss watchmaker has produced a whole line of watches inspired by McLaren Formula 1, called, unoriginally, Formula 1. We like this Calibre 16 Chronograph, in black with orange flares and a rubber strap. It’s the first automatic Formula 1, the previous versions being all quartz battery models. As such, it’s more expensive at $2,750.
Richard Mille and Lotus
After splitting with TW Steel for 2013, Lotus has signed up with extremely fancy horologist Richard Mille this year. There are no official team watches as yet – although one is promised – but Richard Mille has a portfolio of motorsport-inspired timepieces, having created a watch for Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit and for Felipe Massa. The latest collection features a watch designed with FIA president, former rally co-driver and ex-head of Ferrari F1, Jean Todt. Only 15 will be made, and each features a G-sensor that displays how fast you’re cornering. Useful when you’re running for the bus. Although with a price of $490,000, it’s unlikely you’ll be using public transport if you can afford one.
TW Steel and Force India
Dutch watchmaker TW Steel has only been in existence for a few years, but has already partnered with Lotus F1 and, for 2013, Force India. There’s no official Force India watch as yet, but TW Steel has built up a portfolio of motorsport ambassadors, including Indy 500 champ Dario Franchitti, former Red Bull driver David Coulthard and bike racer Mick Doohan. Our favourite is the $495 Emerson Fittipaldi watch however, with its chunky 45mm case and chequered flag motif on the face. It sports the signature of the 1972 and 74 Formula 1 World Champion on the back.
Certina and Sauber
Sauber has partnered with fellow Swiss firm Certina since 2005, and last year it produced this limited edition version of its DS Podium GMT watch. It features a grey strap with red stitching, mirroring Sauber’s colours, and comes in a Sauber-branded box shaped like the nose of an F1 car. The back features a Sauber engraving and the number (out of 1000) of the watch. The movement is quartz rather than anything technically wondrous, but it’ll still cost $775 when new.
Oris and Williams
Oris has produced several Williams-branded watches over recent years, but with the team suffering some of their worst ever results in 2013, it’s probably best not to slap the logo over one’s timepieces. So instead, let’s look at the F1-inspired TT3 Chronograph Black, which sports a fetching black-plated titanium case over an automatic movement, a carbonfibre dial and a rubber strap. The price is in the region of $3000.
BRM Chronographes and Caterham
Not to be confused with the British F1 team of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, BRM is actually a French watchmaker that partnered with Caterham from 2012. The partnership has seen a selection of interesting automatic watches, the highlight of which is this Limited Edition Caterham V12 Chronograph, which has a piston-shaped case and face and strap in the Caterham colours of yellow and green. It’ll set you back $7750 and is limited to 70 examples.
Armin Strom and Marussia
Marussia’s liaison with Swiss watchmaker Armin Strom has produced a collection of watches, each in Marussia’s signature red, white and black colour scheme. Our pick is the One Week model, made from parts created from a real F1 engine block and designed in a way to show off the hand-wound movement. It’s limited to 40 examples and costs around $30,000.
Toro Rosso and no one
Nobody at Toro Rosso needs the time, it seems. It’s the only F1 team without some form of horological accompaniment. That makes Daniel Ricciardo sad. Which almost never happens.