After a number of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Formula Grand Prix has finally returned with a thrilling first race of a double-header in Austria. Despite the empty stands at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, millions of eyes were glued to the screen to finally see racing return in 2020.
With the first ever two-part Austrian Grand Prix taking place, it seemed only right to take a two-part look at the watch brands involved in modern F1.
The Rolex crown is an inescapable presence at every F1 event and every Grand Prix circuit. As the official timekeeper and timepiece of Formula One since 2013, Rolex is prominently featured both in person on the circuit as well as on many wrists up and down the paddock.
The relationship between F1 and Rolex began to solidify in 1968 as a partnership with racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart and would continue for over 40 years.
Another famous face to partner with Rolex is 2016 Formula One World Champion turned occasional broadcaster Nico Rosberg. In 2018, Nico signed a personal endorsement deal with Rolex adding to his list of high-profile and lucrative endorsement deals including: Sky, Heineken, and Hugo Boss. He’s frequently seen wearing one of several Rolex Daytonas that he has in his collection (all of which would pair well with an Everest Rubber or Leather strap we might add!).
From one of the largest Swiss brands, we transition to one of the smallest - Richard Mille. As an avid sponsor of racing, nearly one third of all Formula One teams are under the sponsorship of Richard Mille. Lest you think it is a sponsorship in name only, some amazing creations have been inspired by this collaboration.
First up is Mclaren Racing, who is hopefully still celebrating from their surprise podium this past weekend as Lando Norris hustled to his best ever finish in F1. The Mclaren-orange RM 11-03 flyback chronograph is a perfect match for the signature orange Livery of Mclaren Racing with its beautiful rubber watch strap.
Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris sporting Richard Milles after podium finishes in their respective post-race photos.
Next, we move to Alfa Romeo Racing whose partnership includes a model dedicated to Kimi Raikkonen, the RM 50-04.
Our third team sporting the Richard Mille logo is the Haas F1 Team, with a special nod to driver Romain Grosjean. As he enjoys a personal sponsorship as well, Romain is one of very few F1 racing drivers to noticeably wear a watch while in the car. Clearly a testament to the durability of his RM 011!
In addition to teams, RM has frequently partnered with individual drivers and staff offering special editions for Jean Todt, Fernando Alonso, and Felipe Massa. Perhaps the best commercial for any watch manufacturer was watching now-retired driver Felipe Massa exit his race car. As other drivers strapped on their sponsor watches, all he had to do was lift his sleeve. His RM was on his wrist during every Grand Prix starting in 2004.
We’re only halfway through the list, so please check back in for our upcoming second part breakdown of modern watch brands in Formula 1. And if you feel like you might be shaking your fists in the air, perhaps it’s best to set your watch somewhere safe during the race.