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Watches and Formula 1 - No changes on the grid for watchmakers

Watches and Formula 1 No changes on the grid for watchmakers

After a wave of new partnerships last year, the existing associations between Swiss watch brands and Formula 1 teams remain intact for the 2017 F1 season.

Apologies in advance if you don’t need a definition of what the grid is in motor racing, but for the avoidance of any doubt I’d just like to remind the reader that it is “a pattern of lines marking the starting places on a motor-racing track.”.  The pedantry is to explain the absence of Rolex from the following list, which includes the teams participating in the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship. They alone are the ones who battle it out in qualifying for positions on the starting grid. Rolex is the official timepiece of Formula 1, as well as the title sponsor of the season opener in Australia and the prestigious British Grand Prix. Formula 1 is just one element in the brand’s strong presence in world motorsport. But you will never find Rolex on the grid, quite simply because that would mean partnering with a team, which opens up the possibility of losing. And Rolex does not lose.

After a flurry of activity on the grid last year, with Bell & Ross teaming up with Renault, Richard Mille with both McLaren and Haas F1, and TAG Heuer with Red Bull Racing, the configurations remain the same this year. The big changes this year are with the cars, which are wider in almost every respect (bodywork, tyres, front wing and rear wing). Here are the teams, their drivers and their watches (in order of last year’s World Championship rankings).

Mercedes AMG Petronas and IWC
Finland’s Valtteri Bottas replaces 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg to join Lewis Hamilton at the 2016 World Constructors’ Champion. IWC Schaffhausen has been a partner of the team since 2013 and the brand’s Ingenieur chronograph model features in every race in an original way, since it is printed on the drivers’ racing gloves.


No changes on the grid for watchmakers

Red Bull Racing and TAG Heuer
TAG Heuer secured marketing gold last year by grafting its name on to the official team name as official power unit partner. At the closing Grand Prix of the 2016 in Abu Dhabi, TAG Heuer announced an extension of its partnership with TAG Heuer branded engines for Red Bull Racing for the next two seasons. The drivers remain unchanged and TAG Heuer has the perfect watch collection for Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen to choose from: the Formula 1 collection.

Ferrari and Hublot
A presence on the cars of the Scuderia Ferrari is just one element in Hublot’s 360-degree partnership with the brand with the prancing horse. Messrs. Vettel and Raikonnen will therefore be looking to emulate the watch brand’s flagship and make a big bang in the 2017 F1 season.

Force India and Felio Siby
US lifestyle brand teamed up with Sahara Force India during the course of the 2016 season. Felio Siby has its own line of luxury Swiss Made timepieces equipped with high-end Vaucher Manufacture movements, including a special Force India collection. As the team finished a respectable fourth in the 2016 constructors’ championship, the newcomer benefits from excellent exposure on the nose cone of the cars driven by Sergio Perez and new team-mate Esteban Ocon.

Williams and Oris
First Felipe Massa retired, to be replaced by 18 year-old Lance Stroll from Canada, but then Valtteri Bottas moved to Mercedes, so Massa “un-retired”, meaning that Felipe Massa will continue to wear his beloved Richard Mille timepieces at the wheel of his Oris-sponsored FW40.

McLaren Honda and Richard Mille
Veteran Jenson Button did genuinely retire at the end of last season, to be replaced by another youngster, 24 year-old Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne. He will compete alongside the experienced Fernando Alonso at one of two Formula 1 teams sponsored by Richard Mille.


No changes on the grid for watchmakers

Torro Rosso and Casio Edifice
For an Italian team with a French engine and Russian (Daniil Kvyat) and Spanish (Carlos Sainz) drivers it makes absolute sense to have a Japanese watch partner to complete the global appeal. Edifice is the sub-brand for Casio’s electronic multi-function chronographs.

Haas F1 Team and Richard Mille
Richard Mille has a discreet presence on the side of the nose cone for the 2017 VF-17 fielded by Haas Racing, which has long-time Richard Mille “friend of the brand” Romain Grosjean at the wheel, partnered by Kevin Magnussen, who transferred from Renault Sport.

Renault Sport and Bell & Ross
Bell & Ross are making the most of their partnership with Renault Sport as it enters its second season, taking advantage of the official reveal of the R.S. 17 chassis to present the corresponding limited-edition BR 03-94 R.S. 17 ceramic chronograph, whose colour flashes are inspired by those on the cars that Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer will be driving this year.


No changes on the grid for watchmakers

Sauber and Edox
Edox became a partner of Swiss team Sauber just before the start of the 2016 season and continues this year. The brand dedicated a limited edition of its Chronorally collection to the partnership. This collection is unique in offering both left and right-handed versions of its quartz chronographs. Sauber and its two drivers, Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein, will be hoping to improve on a disappointing 2016 season in which the team picked up just two points.

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For Bell & Ross, each detail has a specific meaning and function: functionality is key, and minimalism – dispensing with superfluous ornamental details in favour of essential aspects – is vital.

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With a clear emphasis on technology and development, IWC Schaffhausen has been manufacturing timepieces of lasting value since 1868. Its philosophy, based on a passion for watchmaking, aims to...

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Richard Mille did not simply try to find his place in the watchmaking world – he carved one out for himself, constantly striving not to take anything for granted, and to make innovation and extreme...

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