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Watches - Feature Article

8 Formula 1 Drivers and Their Watches

At long last, F1 is back. And the first race of the 2020 F1 season will be held in Austria on Sunday 5th July. The first race of 2020 was supposed to be the Australian Grand Prix in Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, on the 15th March 2020, however that was cancelled. There will be two British Grands Prix in 2020. Both will be held at Silverstone, the first on 2nd August and the second on 9th August 2020. Looking at the teams, there are no new entrants, just a change of name for “Toro Rosso” to “Alpha Tauri”. So ahead of this excitement, we thought it would be great to dive into the watch collections of those behind the wheel in Austria.

First up, it had to be Lewis Hamilton. The six-time Formula One world champion, burst onto the scene in 2007 with McLaren, with whom he won 21 Grands Prix, before moving to Mercedes in 2013 where, to date, he has won 63 races. Now, like some on this list, Lewis is sponsored by IWC via the team. That’s not to say these guys don’t like the brands, because we frequently see Lewis wearing IWC outside of race days, and that includes his very own perpetual calendar Big Pilot which IWC made with him in 2019. To this day, the Big Pilot of the racing glove of the drivers has to be the best piece of marketing in sporting history. This special design, of which there are only to 100 watches available, combines a black ceramic case and a Bordeaux-red dial with a crown and a case-back ring made of 18-carat 5N gold. The watch has a diameter of 46.5mm and the textile strap is also coloured in Bordeaux-red. Not one for the faint hearted.

Next up, his teammate at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas. While the colourful Big Pilot designed by Lewis, say a lot about his character, the more understated Bottas has opted for the same family and complication is the Big Pilot and perpetual calendar, but this time in matte black ceramic, for a stealthier look.

And over to Ferrari, and Charles Leclerc. While its clear this is a Richard Mille, the reference isn’t. The red crown maybe a giveaway and after some digging, I feel comfortable saying this is an RM 035 on his wrist. An interesting fact, the skier Alexis Pinturault has worn an RM 035 with a case made of a magnesium and aluminium alloy for the past two seasons of the Alpine Ski World Cup as well as tennis maestro Rafa Nadal. The watch’s technical features that make it light and strong. This RM 035 has been treated to the latest innovations in the sector with the signature barrel-shaped case in NTPT carbon. The kicker, it retails at £125,500.

I have to confess, this is a tough one. The image isn’t the best, but one thing is for sure, this is a variation of a TAG Monaco. It would make sense with the racing history of the watch to be on one of racings next big things, Max Verstappen, who races for Red Bull. My gut says it could be the Monaco HEUER Calibre 12 chronograph Automobile Club de Monaco Black Edition. It is based on an older 1970s Black Monaco called The Darth, which is said to be one of the rarest Heuer watches ever.  The Monaco Heuer ACM comes in a 39 mm square shaped black titanium carbide coated stainless steel case. It features a prominent box type sapphire crystal. Inside, is TAG Heuer’s Calibre 12, which is an ETA 2892 with a Dubois Depraz chrono module. The dial is made of black opalin, with black sub-dials and hand applied diamond cut rhodium plated indexes. The hour and minute hands are diamond cut as well, with white luminescent paint. The central chronograph second hand is rhodium plated with an orange tip for easy legibility when the chronograph is running. Both the TAGHeuer logo and “Monaco” are printed on the dial at 12 o’clock. The date is displayed at 6 o’clock. A choice that will always work for those track side selfies.

His partner Alex Albon, is also rocking a TAG, but this time, it’s a TAG Connected. A smart watch designed and inspired by TAG’s legendary chronographs. Faceted horns, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, ceramic bezel, push buttons and crown. The case has been designed down to the smallest details – it’s perfect for an active lifestyle.

alex albon

Carlos Sainz from McLaren is bringing the heat with another Richard Mille. This time it’s a RM11 -03, A fixture of the Richard Mille collection since 2007, the RM 011 took its bows. Retiring at the height of its glory, it made way for the RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph. 

While it’s one thing to wear a great watch, it’s quite another to have the respect from a maker to collaborate on a watch. That’s the case here with Kimi Raikkonen, a race legend. Crowned world champion in 2007 after being vice world champion in 2003 and 2005, 39-year-old Kimi Räikkönen is a seasoned veteran. His watch, the RM 50-04 Tourbillon Chronograph Kimi Raikkonen. A manual winding tourbillon movement with hours, minutes, split-seconds chronograph, 30-minute totaliser, and power-reserve, torque and function indicators. Limited edition of 30 pieces. The calibre RM50-03 weighs just 7 grams and fully deserves its qualifier ‘ultralight’. The secret to its feather weight lies in the use of grade 5 Titanium and Carbon TPT®, and in the extreme skeletonization of components. 

Last, but not least, the young Brit George Russell from Williams. We can’t confirm if he is indeed a pilot, but he is sporting a very nice IWC Pilots Chronograph in steel. A clearly organized dial and excellent legibility. Thanks to the robust 79320-calibre chronograph movement, it is possible to record single and aggregate times of up to 12 hours. The subdials at “12” and “6 o’clock” are used for aggregate timing while the red seconds hand at “9 o’clock” indicates that the watch is running normally. A sporty classic that we will see in years to come.

That’s the round up folks, hope you enjoyed, it’s going to be great to have live sport back, so enjoy the race.

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