As you read this, the Singapore Grand Prix is in the thick of the final race. And soon, those who are F1 fans will be having withdrawal symptoms till it starts all over again the following weekend in Sochi. In the meantime, enjoy our pick of 6 race inspired watches.
We take a whiff off the Singapore F1 this weekend. Literally so as the air quality index has gone through the roof. As we write this, the 1 hour AQI is 171! Very unhealthy, advices WHO. All courtesy of our Indonesian neighbours whose insistent burning of their rain forests have caused this. But I digress.
Back to the topic. We look at six watches inspired by racing during this F1 season. Here it goes! Note: No particular order. Links will take you to the original articles and official micro sites, as usual.
Rolex has, as a manner of speaking, no horse in this race. They do not sponsor any team, or are affiliated to any. But they ARE the race. As official timekeeper, their green banner is splashed all over the circuits emblazoned with the golden crown – the immediately recognizable symbol of Rolex.
Rolex’s involvement in motorsport is legendary. They have been intimately intertwined with F1,d track, Le Mans and Daytona motorsports sponsorships since 1930, and partnering legends like Sir Jackie Stewart, Nico Rosberg and Mark Weber.
Our pick for this article must of course be their race inspired watch, none other than the famous and outstanding Daytona. This is not the record breaking Daytona Ref 6239 “Paul Newman” which smashed all sale records. But the regular production Ref 116500 still in the current catalog.
Indeed many will bemoan that this watch is almost an unobtainium. Black market prices typically command a huge premium over retail pricing. We implore you to only buy from authorized dealers who are obligated to sell at the retail pricing.
But the Daytona is put in the high pedestal by collectors for a reason. This is a robust, practical and beautiful, luxury tool watch if there ever was one. It wears beautifully and is superbly comfortable, and the chronometer performance is outstanding. Retailing for a mere S$ 16,660, the asking price is superb value for money for this almost extreme level of engineering.
Hublot’s entry to the F1 game is via partner Ferrari. And they do have several models in collaboration bearing both marques on the dial. But our chosen watch must be the incredible La Ferrari.
This is a sculpture of a engine of the most brilliant sort. The movement is one of a kind. Form follows function follows form. The “dial” if we may call it that, is absolutely unique. Laid out like a high performance F1 engine, the hour and minute are displayed to the right of the barrels, also indicated by means of one anodised black aluminium cylinder each. On their left is the cylinder indicating the power reserve. Reinforcing bars either side, made from anodised red aluminium, bring to mind Ferrari’s red signature.
A “power drill” is provided to wind the watch and to set the time, as it has an incredible power reserve of 50 days! 637 components, including a tourbillon makes up the movement. It seems as though the team behind the watch was told to create a timepiece that is beyond their wildest imagination, without any limitations or boundaries. And succeeded. The result? An extraordinary and conversational timepiece that is seemingly out of this world.
The Hublot MP-05 “LaFerrari” comes in two main variants: either in microblasted titanium or microblasted black PVD titanium. Each variant is limited to 50 pieces, and they are priced at S$ 585,300. Gemset versions are also available.
TAG Heuer is also another brand who is heavily involved in motor sports on a worldwide scale with partnerships with Red Bull Racing and many other affiliations. But it is with the Monaco Gulf Special Edition that we have chosen for today.
We called it “Possibly the coolest watch ever” in our review, as it was worn and endorsed personally by the King of Cool – none other than Steve McQueen!
We think the Monaco is an epitome of coolness; a timepiece which rejects the status quo. Its square design was as outlandish when it was launched as it is today. It wears the livery of the Gulf Racing team boldly on the dial, giving it the immediate recognition, even from 30 paces.
The movement is a rather pedestrian Sellita SW300 with Dubois-Dépraz chronograph module, but with a watch like this, who cares? Especially when it runs well and is robust. Retails for a reasonable US$ 5,900.
Bell & Ross partners with Renault for F1, and their creations have been ongoing for several years. In 2017, we reviewed the Bell & Ross BR-03-94 RS17, and last year two of the Bell & Ross RS18. This year, we kept the RS19 in the schedule.
As is typical of Bell & Ross, the aesthetics are top class. The selection and nuanced balance of the colors, which are as many as they are bright and prominent, is a masterclass in itself. The watch wears very nicely and can serve as a daily beater for the F1 fan, constantly reminding him/her of the races in the coming calendar throughout the year. At S$7,800 for a mechanical chronograph, it is also a good value.
Though not an official sponsor of any F1 team, Richard Mille partners with numerous drivers and teams who use their watches. The drivers also act as test cases too prove the ruggedness of the Richard Mille watches. Partnerships with McLaren, Haas, and Alfa Romeo, among others.
The latest is the RM67-02 piece unique created this year in the colours of Fernando Alonzo’s F1 helmet, but our pick was announced in 2017 and we are almost obligated the Richard Mille RM50-03 Tourbillon Split Seconds chronograph McLaren F1. It was updated by the RM50-04 for Kimi Räikkönen for this year, but we still love the original the watch with probably the biggest bragging rights! Yea, we know the RM50-04 trumps that price, but the RM50-03 is the OG!
The Richard Mille RM50-03 is certainly a watch like no other, safe its younger brother the RM50-04. No other split seconds tourbillon watch is made with such a high tech carbon case, let alone one impregnated with the super-material graphene. None which feature titanium and carbon plates and bridges. None which has quite the graphic appeal. And none which weigh all of 38g. The bragging rights are out of this world. And also none with such a huge price tag of CHF 980,000 in a limited edition of 75 pieces when released in SIHH 2017. We have no doubt all pieces are already in the possession of end-clients.
Casio Edifice Honda Racing
Edifice partners with Scuderia Toro Rosso for the F1 races. This is the only F1 team using Honda engines, and we particularly love this piece from 2018. The edition, is of course sold out, and replaced with this years edition in a dark stainless steel case, but a titanium alminide bezel. A Special Edition with Toro Rosso is also available.
Priced modestly at S$339, we feel that this Casio watch exudes good quality for money. The watch is rather well-made, and looks good. It is also the perfect watch for someone who supports Honda Racing, or owns Honda cars.
We hope you have enjoyed this list, as it was quite a fun list to pull together. We have intentionally kept it eclectic, with prices ranging from under S$ 400 to well over a million bucks (Singapore dollars lah!), but with a broad mid section hovering below S$ 10,000. And yes, we are aware that more than one watch in this list is either sold out or extremely difficult to get. But that is the nature of F1 racing. It is the top of the game, and VERY exclusive.
What would you pick if you were a dyed in the wool F1 race enthusiast? Let us know.