Watches That Drive The Formula 1 Grand Prix

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This is another in an occasional series of articles from London based independent watch broker David Duggan

Formula 1 racing and luxury watches famously complement one another. Both are driven by a passion for state-of-the-art engineering, sleek design and innovation, whether it be in a new chassis or chronograph. Indeed, the two draw such a similar, dedicated fan base that most of the major Swiss watchmakers have sponsored drivers and teams at some point.

With the 2017 season now in full swing and already looking like a classic, Watchuseek asked luxury watch seller David Duggan to share three of his F1 timepiece favourites.

 

TAG Heuer – Carrera 1158

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It is impossible to talk about F1 and watches and not include TAG Heuer. Originally two separate companies, TAG was a main sponsor for the Williams team between 1979 and 1981. Heuer, meanwhile, was the F1 timekeeper of the 1970s, developing electronic timing systems for F1 races and more specifically pioneering modern day F1 sponsorship when Jack Heuer – the founder’s great-grandson – signed a deal with Ferrari in 1971.

As well as providing specialist timekeeping equipment in exchange for a logo on the cars, each Ferrari driver was presented with an 18K gold automatic Carrera 1158 – known as the ‘drivers watch’. Every case back was engraved with the driver’s name and, according to some, their blood type. The Carrera 1158 was one of Heuer’s most expensive watches and was seen on the wrist of many F1 greats, including Mario Andretti, Clay Regazzoni and Niki Lauda.

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The Heuer/Ferrari partnership ended in 1979 and the Carrera was dropped in the 1980s. However, it was revived in 1998, thanks to its ongoing popularity with collectors. TAG Heuer remains a fixture on the F1 scene, these days working in partnership with Red Bull, but it continues to update the Carrera, with four editions, plus a ladies’ model, unveiled at Baselworld 2017. TAG Heuer

 

Rolex – Cosmograph Daytona

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To be fair, there are a number of timepieces I could have chosen to represent Rolex’s place in motor racing legend. As early as the 1930s, the Swiss manufacture was aligning itself with racing icons such as Sir ‘Speed King’ Malcolm Campbell, who wore his trusted Rolex Oyster the day he broke his ninth land speed record in Utah in 1935. He was travelling at a staggering 301.337 miles per hour. Or, I could have picked a yellow gold Day-Date, chosen by Sir Jackie Stewart, who decided to treat himself to one after he qualified for the Indy 500. He received $25,000 and the team owner drove him into Houston to pick one out. Rolex quickly found out and 50 years later the Flying Scot is still a Rolex ambassador. Today, Rolex is also the global partner and official timepiece of F1.

But I chose the Cosmograph Daytona because it was this watch that Stewart received at what has to be the F1 race to beat all F1 races – the Monaco Grand Prix. Undoubtedly the most extravagant, exciting circuit of the whole season, it is widely considered the jewel in the Rolex F1 crown.

The Daytona was introduced in 1963 and designed specifically with professional racing drivers in mind. Today’s version features a highly reliable chronograph and bezel with tachymetric scale that allows drivers to accurately measure average speeds of up to 400 miles or kilometres per hour, depending on their measurement of choice. Rolex released three new versions at Baselworld 2017, each sporting its Oysterflex bracelet. Introduced two years earlier, much to everyone’s surprise, the bracelet is as strong as a traditional metal one, but as flexible as an elastomer strap.

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The Flying Scot still wears his Daytona because it reminds him that “I was good enough and fast enough to win it.” In 2016, he received the brand new Daytona to mark the 50th anniversary of his very first win in Monaco back in 1966. Rolex

 

IWC Schaffhausen – The Ingenieur

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IWC Schaffhausen became Mercedes-AMG Petronas’ official engineering partner in 2013, making it a relative newcomer to the world of F1. However, its watches have been a regular feature on the wrists of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg ever since. No stranger to a bit of insta-papping, Hamilton has shown off a number of IWC watches via Instagram, including his Ingenieur Constant-Force Tourbillion in rose gold – one of the manufacture’s most advanced timepieces.

The Ingenieur was first introduced in 1955 in an effort to create a watch that would be resistant to magnetic fields, something of an occupational hazard for the engineers and scientists IWC had in mind. In 1976, the timepiece got a design overhaul from the renowned Gérald Genta – designer of the original Patek Philippe Nautilius and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak – although fewer than 600 were ever made.

Today’s versions incorporate ceramic and titanium, both materials commonly used in motorsports construction – and in 2014, IWC nailed its colours firmly to the F1 mast with the launch of the Ingenieur Chronograph Racer. This timepiece features a tachymeter typeface, red details on the timing elements and an F1 car engraved on the case back.

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As part of the partnership, both Hamilton and Rosberg have helped create their own special limited edition Ingenieur Chronographs. Hamilton opted for a dense titanium case and matching bracelet, incidentally the only titanium watch that IWC produces, while Rosberg went for a similar titanium case, rubber strap with embossed calfskin and yellow detailing. Both watches feature a medallion of carbon on the reverse, engraved with their respective logos and sourced from one of the Silver Arrow cars used by Mercedes-AMG Petronas. IWC

 

 

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