Lewis Hamilton just won the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, his 4th to date. It is a very impressive accomplishment for both him and the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team. The current record holder is driver Michael Schumacher, who won 7 Formula 1 World Championships. But what about their watches?
Lewis Hamilton is part of the Mercedes team that is sponsored by IWC. During the races, you can see Hamilton and Bottas, his teammate, wearing white gloves with IWC watches printed on them – very smart marketing. The aforementioned Michael Schumacher and his brother and former F1 race driver Ralf were long time ambassadors for Omega, wearing Speedmaster watches. Later on, Michael Schumacher became an ambassador for Audemars Piguet.
But what watches have some of the other drivers worn? Let’s have a look at some of the most iconic Formula 1 watches (and drivers).
Stewart is also a three-time World Champion, and later on owner of the Stewart Grand Prix team together with his son Paul. Besides already being the owner of a gold Rolex Day-Date, he received an Oyster Cosmograph Daytona in the late 1960’s after winning the Monaco Grand Prix.
Over the years, he became an official Rolex ambassador and can be spotted wearing several different Rolex models, including the last iteration of the Cosmograph Daytona with its ceramic bezel. He has featured in Rolex advertisements and has been one of the faces for Rolex for almost 50 years. He ended his F1 racing career in 1973 while driving for Elf Team Tyrrell. During one of his interviews, he said that he still enjoys wearing that first Rolex Daytona that he received.
This legendary F1 racer and three-time F1 World Champion, who unfortunately died in a racing accident in 1994, was a TAG Heuer wearer and had quite a collection of these watches. You also might have seen some Universal Genève Senna watches in the past. Universal Genève partnered with the Ayrton Senna Institute (IAS) in the 1990’s and came up with two watches: the Universal Genève Senna 41 (referring to his 41 Formula 1 wins) with a chronograph complication and a three-hand model, the Universal Genève Senna 65 (referring to his 65 pole positions).
Just two days before Senna passed away, TAG Heuer introduced the 6000 Senna watch for him to promote. However, one of his personal TAG Heuer models was ref. S25.706C. He gave this watch away to one of the McLaren test team’s mechanics. Later on in 2007, it was auctioned at Bonhams for US$69,000, excluding premium.
The winner of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship was already mentioned in the introduction, but Lewis Hamilton definitely needs to be mentioned here as well. Hamilton debuted in 2007 and has since won four Formula 1 World Championships . He has been racing for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team since 2013 and is sponsored by IWC.
He can be seen wearing a variety of IWC watches; however, in 2014, IWC introduced a ‘Lewis Hamilton’ watch called the Ingenieur Chronograph Lewis Hamilton, limited to only 250 pieces.
In 2010, the Le Brasses-based watch manufacturer Audemars Piguet welcomed Michael Schumacher as an ambassador. In 2012, just one year before he had the tragic skiing accident, Audemars Piguet introduced the first limited edition ‘Michael Schumacher’ watch. In the years before Audemars Piguet, he was an ambassador for Omega. The Speedmaster, in particular, had some models dedicated to this F1 race driver with most World Championships to his name. Schumacher was a watch aficionado, and there were many Omega watches dedicated to him. One of the rarest pieces is a Speedmaster that has his signature on the dial and was meant for members of the Ferrari team at the time (2004). Only 500 pieces were made of this automatic Speedmaster.
In 2015, after his accident, there was the very complicated Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher. It was a bit of a surprise, but Audemars Piguet had been developing this watch with input from Schumacher since before his accident in 2013.
Felipe Massa is an F1 race driver with no World Championship to his name but with a long career (from 2002 to 2017). In 2008, he finished 2nd, the closest he ever got to a World Champion (Hamilton was #1 with a difference of just 1 point). He raced with Sauber, Ferrari (as Schumacher’s teammate), and Williams. Although Williams has a sponsorship deal with Oris, you can find Felipe Massa wearing a Richard Mille on his wrist. He has had this partnership with Richard Mille since 2004.
The very first Richard Mille to carry the Felipe Massa name was the RM006-FM. From then on, various Richard Mille watches were dedicated to the F1 driver. One of the most impressive models might be the 2012 RM056 Tourbillon Chronograph Sapphire Felipe Massa. The entire case, crystal, and back are made from solid blocks of sapphire. Just 5 pieces were made with a whopping price of US$1.65 million.
As you can see in this article, most drivers (or teams) have some sort of sponsorship with a watch brand to have their watches endorsed. Watch enthusiasts have a weak spot for (fast) cars, but this is also relevant to those who love Formula 1 first and then watches. One of the brands already mentioned above is TAG Heuer, who had a partnership with Ayrton Senna. Before Senna, you could spot Heuer watches on the wrists of Jo Siffert, Mario Andretti, Clay Regazzoni, and Nikki Lauda.
Today, TAG Heuer can be found on the wrists of new talents like Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. With Max Verstappen, for example, you will find that he linked his name to the TAG Heuer Formula One collection, which includes quartz chronograph watches that are relatively affordable so they will speak to a young(er) audience. This also makes it fun, as you will find watches at entry-level like the TAG Heuer Formula One and the Oris Williams collection (there’s a limited edition with F1 driver Valtteri Bottas) to (very) high-end watches, from names like Hublot, IWC, and Richard Mille.