If cars and watches are essentially good friends with a bit in common, then Formula One race cars and mechanical watches are brothers from another mother. Both represent engineering at the bleeding edge, with ‘creators’ testing new designs, materials, and the natural laws of the universe in the name of making a machine that is more accurate and efficient than ever before. And the finished product must also be able to be driven, or worn, by a human. As this year’s Formula One season takes off, we’re seeing four leading watch brands align with top teams and drivers. In some cases, the manufacturers are introducing timepieces inspired by the teams and, in other cases, the drivers are putting the watches through some extreme field testing by wearing them during races. The following watch companies can be spotted on the circuit this F1 season, and also at Westime’s four boutiques in Southern California.
BELL & ROSS + RENAULT
Bell & Ross focuses on creating watches for professional users—from pilots to divers to soldiers. Starting this year, the company is counting race car drivers among its pros, as well. Bell & Ross is the sponsor of the new Renault Sport Formula One team, with driving duo Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer behind the wheels of the team’s R.S. 16 race cars. In celebration of the alliance, Bell & Ross is issuing two limited editions of its 45mm BR-X1 timepieces. Both the BR-X1 RS16 Skeleton Chronograph (250 pieces) and the Skeleton Chronograph Tourbillon (20 pieces) feature cases made from strong and lightweight forged carbon and titanium, plus subtle yellow details that reference Renault’s race car.
HUBLOT + FERRARI
Hublot’s partnership with Scuderia Ferrari took hold in 2012 and today, the brands are united on the team’s Formula One race cars, the uniforms of Ferrari’s F1 drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, and the Ferrari line of watches from Hublot. Hublot tastefully incorporates Ferrari’s iconic prancing horse emblem, schedoni leather and bright red or yellow details into limited editions of its Big Bang collection. Hublot also takes design inspiration from specific Ferrari models to create its Big Bang Ferrari Speciale and the remarkable MP-05 LaFerrari, which features a case reminiscent of the race car’s body and a 50-day power reserve.
RICHARD MILLE + MCLAREN + HAAS
The alliance between Richard Mille and Formula One racing is likely the most organic partnership imaginable. Mr. Mille himself is an avid amateur racer, collector of vintage F1 race cars, friend of numerous drivers, and supporter of charities for the health and safety of drivers. The world of automobiles is a constant source of inspiration for Richard Mille, who applies the same creative and R&D processes to the design of his timepieces to create extreme solutions that are impressively efficient, high-performance and innovative. This season, Formula One drivers Romain Grosjean (Haas) and Felipe Massa (Williams) can be spotted driving in their Richard Mille watches, and putting those extreme timepieces through some extreme G forces. The RM 011 Automatic Flyback Chronograph was originally created in partnership with Massa, and now a bold edition in red quartz now adorns Grosjean’s wrist. Richard Mille also sponsors two F1 teams this year: McLaren-Honda Formula One with drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso as pilots, and the new American team Haas, with Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez in the drivers’ seats.
TAG HEUER + RED BULL
This season sees a new partnership between TAG Heuer and the Red Bull Racing Formula One team, whose young lead drivers are Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat. Not only does TAG Heuer’s name appear on the uniforms and cars of the drivers, but the two companies will join forces to host events that are released across different media channels. TAG Heuer is no stranger to the world of racing, and one of the most famous of all Hollywood images is Steve McQueen sporting the square Heuer Monaco watch as he donned his racing uniform in Le Mans. Today, the watchmaker’s Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 Auto- matic Chronograph in shock-resistant steel is race-track ready.