Against the clock

We take a look at the old­est part­ner­ship in For­mula One rac­ing – its re­la­tion­ship with time

MVMT - - Contents - Words farhan shah

Time and tide wait for no For­mula One team

TAG Heuer

The Swiss watch­maker has had a long re­la­tion­ship with For­mula One, one that stretches back more than three decades. TAG Heuer first joined the sport in the late 1970s, spon­sor­ing the Wil­liams team. Then, in 1982, the com­pany played a ma­jor role in help­ing to fi­nance Ron Den­nis’ takeover of the Mclaren team. In­stead of just be­ing a sticker on the side of the car, TAG fi­nanced the de­vel­op­ment of the fa­mous 1.5-litre Porsche turbo en­gine that pow­ered the Mclaren ve­hi­cles to cham­pi­onship vic­to­ries in 1984, 1985 and 1986.

Two years later, the late leg­end Ayr­ton Senna moved to the Mclaren team and be­gan a long re­la­tion­ship with TAG Heuer that re­sulted in the beau­ti­ful 6000 Senna Lim­ited Edi­tion. Iron­i­cally this par­tic­u­lar time­piece was only de­vel­oped af­ter Senna had left Mclaren. Af­ter Senna’s pass­ing, TAG Heuer re­leased mul­ti­ple it­er­a­tions of the Link Senna chrono­graph to com­mem­o­rate the Brazil­ian driver and his iconic yel­low hel­met.

This year TAG Heuer joined forces with the Red Bull rac­ing team in a part­ner­ship rem­i­nis­cent of the one it had with Mclaren in the 1980s. The watch firm funded the re­search and de­vel­op­ment of the new en­gines that drive the Red Bull Rac­ing TAG Heuer cars in this year’s race, and it has borne fruit. The team has recorded mul­ti­ple podium fin­ishes and even won the Span­ish Grand Prix in May. It’s also tus­sling with Fer­rari for the run­ners-up spot in the Con­struc­tor cham­pi­onships. As all part­ner­ships go, it has been a fruit­ful one for TAG Heuer and the Red Bull team.

Richard Mille

Spon­sor­ing a sin­gu­lar rac­ing team would be the log­i­cal choice for most watch com­pa­nies but Richard Mille has never been one to do things the or­di­nary way. This year the brand is spon­sor­ing two For­mula One teams – Mclaren-honda and the newly formed Haas Fer­rari, which de­spite its name, is ac­tu­ally Amer­i­can in ori­gin. What’s sur­pris­ing is the length of the spon­sor­ships. In a time of non-com­mi­tal busi­ness re­la­tion­ships, it’s re­fresh­ing to see Richard Mille en­ter into a decade-long part­ner­ship with Mclaren-honda.

While Richard Mille hasn’t yet pro­duced any time­pieces in col­lab­o­ra­tion with these two rac­ing teams, we sus­pect it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore a watch com­mem­o­rat­ing the part­ner­ships will be re­leased. They do have a lot of time.

Bell & Ross

When the French-owned watch­maker an­nounced its part­ner­ship with the Re­nault For­mula One team, the rac­ing and watch­mak­ing worlds were taken aback. Af­ter all, one usu­ally as­so­ci­ated Bell & Ross with avi­a­tion, not mo­tor­ing. Dig a lit­tle deeper and you’ll see it’s a col­lab­o­ra­tion that makes sense. Both fields place strong em­pha­sis on pre­ci­sion, in­no­va­tion and me­chan­ics, and it’s only apt that Bell & Ross en­ters the world of For­mula One for the first time to­gether with a team that dis­ap­peared from the sport for five years be­fore mak­ing a grand re­turn.

To celebrate the part­ner­ship, Bell & Ross re­leased the ro­bust and so­phis­ti­cated BR-X1 range. Named af­ter the Bell X-1, the first Amer­i­can ex­per­i­men­tal plane equipped with a rocket en­gine to break the sound bar­rier, the time­pieces come in a va­ri­ety of mod­els. The Car­bone Forgé edi­tion (pic­tured, left) is per­haps the most fas­ci­nat­ing due to the patented forged car­bon ma­te­rial on the case. Light­weight and ex­tremely strong, it plays a key role in the aero­nau­ti­cal and space in­dus­tries and is able to with­stand ex­treme me­chan­i­cal stress, ex­actly the sort of time­piece a For­mula One driver would want to wear.


It’s been a rel­a­tively short part­ner­ship, all things con­sid­ered. But it’s one that has been grow­ing in strength over the past three years. Since 2013, IWC Schaffhausen has been the of­fi­cial en­gi­neer­ing part­ner of the Mercedes AMG Petronas For­mula One team.

Prior to its race­track de­but, IWC has been col­lab­o­rat­ing with the high-per­for­mance au­to­mo­bile brand Mercedes-amg since 2004, cre­at­ing a va­ri­ety of time­pieces to mark the car maker’s achieve­ments. One ex­am­ple is the IWC In­ge­nieur Au­to­matic Edi­tion AMG GT, which was pro­duced last year in a lim­ited run of 25 pieces. The watch was the first in the world to fea­ture a case ma­chined from solid boron car­bide ce­ramic, a ma­te­rial that is as hard as a di­a­mond and yet, as light as alu­minium. It’s cur­rently the hard­est ce­ramic avail­able.

In 2014, IWC also re­leased two spe­cial mod­els of the In­ge­nieur Chrono­graph Edi­tion. Aptly named Lewis Hamil­ton and Nico Ros­berg, af­ter the two driv­ers of the team and fierce ri­vals, the watches were cre­ated in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the sports­men. The only thing in com­mon be­tween both time­pieces were the ma­te­ri­als used – ti­ta­nium, car­bon and zir­co­nium ox­ide ce­ramic – to craft them and the cal­i­bre tick­ing in­side them. Every­thing else was markedly dif­fer­ent. It was as though Hamil­ton and Ros­berg could not stand hav­ing some­thing sim­i­lar with each other.

With Mercedes AMG Petronas’ re­cent dom­i­nance in For­mula One in the past two years, you can be sure IWC w ill look to con­tinue this part­ner­ship. We’re just keep­ing our eyes peeled for more ri­val time­pieces from the watch­maker.


If there’s one as­pect of For­mula One that every­one knows, it’s the Pranc­ing Horse. Fer­rari’s rac­ing team, Scud­e­ria Fer­rari, has a long and sto­ried her­itage, and is the only team to hav e com­peted in every F1 world cham­pi­onship since its in­cep­tion in 1950. It’s also the old­est sur­viv­ing and most suc­cess­ful team, hav­ing won a record 16 Con­struc­tors’ Cham­pi­onships, prov­ing its worth as a brand of stel­lar en­gi­neer­ing re­pute. It was only apt then that Hublot part­nered with the team at the start of 2013, in a col­lab­o­ra­tion that Hublot’s chair­man Jean-claude Biver termed “rich in a host of syn­er­gies”.

The Hublot MP-05 La­fer­rari time­piece and en­gi­neer­ing marvel was the stun­ning re­sult of the part­ner­ship. With a record 637 com­po­nents, the most in any Hublot time­piece to date, the MP-05 La­fer­rari re­sem­bles a Fer­rari, with 11 se­ri­escou­pled barrels at the cen­tre of the watch that look a lot like the pis­tons of an en­gine. It’s not a co­in­ci­dence; the time­piece was de­vel­oped in tan­dem with its au­to­mo­bile name­sake. And just like Scud­e­ria Fer­rari, Hublot sought to break records with the MP-05 La­fer­rari. Per­haps the most stun­ning is the 50-day power re­serve, which was a new world record in horol­ogy. It’s a record that will prob­a­bly stand the test of time, much like Fer­rari’s her­itage.


While not as pres­ti­gious as other For­mula One rac­ing teams, Sauber has seen many young driv­ers make their mark in its colours be­fore mov­ing on to other teams. Driv­ers such as Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Robert Ku­bica have piloted Sauber’s cars to vic­tory. It’s fit­ting then that a Swiss watch­maker want­ing to make its mark on the mod­ern world has cho­sen to part­ner with Sauber. Edox, which means “mea­sur­ing time” in An­cient Greek, re­cently put ink to paper on a long-term part­ner­ship with Sauber at the start of the year.

“With its Swiss roots, high-per­for­mance as­pi­ra­tions and a huge pop­u­lar­ity rat­ing, the Sauber For­mula One team is the ideal part­ner for us. We will soon launch the first amaz­ing time­piece that is care­fully engineered for the fastest driv­ers on our planet,” said Alexandre Stram­bini, CEO of Edox, af­ter the ink dried.

A bit hy­per­bolic? Per­haps, but Edox has a strong ex­per­tise in div­ing and sail­ing watches, which trans­lates quite well to rac­ing time­pieces. We wait with bated breath.


It’s im­pos­si­ble to talk about For­mula One without men­tion­ing Rolex, the of­fi­cial time­keeper and part­ner of the pre­mier rac­ing cham­pi­onship in the world since 2013. It re­placed Hublot in a part­ner­ship that would run for more than five years, ac­cord­ing to di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and im­age at Rolex, Ar­naud Boetsch.

The Swiss brand has a long as­so­ci­a­tion with mo­tor­sport even be­fore its col­lab­o­ra­tion with For­mula One. It spon­sored Sir Mal­colm Camp­bell when he broke the world land speed record back in 1935 at the Bon­neville Salt Flats in Utah. Camp­bell av­er­aged a whop­ping speed that was just a whisker be­low 500kph.

Rolex also spon­sors former For­mula One world cham­pion Jackie Ste­wart and has been work­ing to­gether with him since 1968. Ste­wart still wears the Rolex Day­tona that was given to him in Monaco in the 1960s.

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