Formula One has long had an association with glitz and glamour. The fast cars and fast lifestyles of the drivers, and the international calendar has always been an attraction to fans and aspiring drivers. The combination of this and the super accurate timing required for the sport means that it has always attracted high end watch manufacturers as sponsors.
This has moved from the racing organisations paying timekeepers for accurate timing to watch brands paying for the association with famous, marketable sportsmen. The first notable endorsement was back in the late 1980s, with Ayrton Senna, MacLaren and the TAG Heuer 6000 series. This was a memorable partnership while it lasted, but tragically Ayrton was killed in 1994 at San Marino. Today, TAG still sponsors the MacLaren team, and each new driver bromes an instant ‘brand ambassador’. TAG Heuer was one of the pioneers of this kind of marketing, having previously persuaded Steve McQueen to wear the ‘HeuerMonaco’ in the hit 1971 film, Le Mans.
Today, every team is associated with a luxury watch brand, and many have had long associations. This has gone even further, and several limited-edition models have been created for specific drivers. The following are just a few on the market currently:
– Richard Mille Caliber RM 011 Felipe Massa
– Fernando Alonso TAG Heuer (now sadly removed since his fallout with Maclaren)
– Rubens BarrichelloAudemarsPiguetRoyal Oak Offshore Limited
– Hublot Big Bang Ayrton Senna (and the original TAG Heuer 6000 Series Senna Limited Edition)
– Michael Schumacher F1 limited edition from Omega watches
Some other notable partnerships include Mercedes GP and specialist British brand Graham, Williams F1 and Oris and Ferrari and Girard-Perregaux.
Obviously, Formula 1 isn’t the only market that luxury watch manufacturers have been attracted to. Marketing partnerships seem to occur more and more frequently, for all kinds of sports. For instance, Jaeger Lecoultre watches now sponsor Polo players, including Adolfo Cambiaso, and Hugo Boss Orange watches sponsor the US Americas Cup team. Sadly, for most normal people even pre-owned watches of this quality will be out of reach, but the Internet is a good place to start.