It might be approaching 28 years since three-time F1 world champion Ayrton Senna died while leading the pack in his Williams at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, but his name resonates as strongly as ever with the world’s motor sport fans.
Just two days before the fatal accident, Senna signed a deal with sponsor TAG Heuer to continue as a brand ambassador and to put his name to a special version of its 6000 model, a watch that eventually went on sale six months later with a generous chunk of the proceeds going to the Senna Foundation.
The TAG relationship continued with special editions from 2001-04, after which the Foundation hooked up with Hublot from 2011-14 before the baton passed back to TAG in 2015, leading to further Senna models. And now the motor sport-focused brand has released a new watch to commemorate 30 years since Senna became the youngest person ever to win three F1 titles by taking the chequered flag at the Australian Grand Prix on November 3, 1991.
Harking back to the custom strap on which the Brazilian star used to wear his watches, the Formula 1 x Senna special edition is fitted with a leather bracelet embossed with the pattern of the metal S link versions on which many of the maker’s models were supplied.
The yellow of the Brazilian flag is used both for the bracelet’s stitching and for the highlights of the anthracite dial, which carries the ‘double S’ Senna logo in the centre of the tenths-of-a- second counter at six o’clock. The scratch- resistant black ceramic bezel is graduated with a seemingly meaningless set of numbers, save for the ‘400’ which, oddly, is a reference to 400kph, which has never been reached in F1.
The back of the watch, meanwhile, is decorated with a stylised image of the driver’s helmet and the words ‘Senna Special Edition’.
With only a quartz movement inside its 43mm blackened steel case, this ‘special’ will appeal less to horophiles than to dyed-in-the- wool Senna fans – although those from either camp might know that the TAG watch Senna was best known for wearing was a quartz S/el chronograph with a digi-analogue display, a steel case and a gold-plated bezel and detailing.
The aforementioned custom strap with which it was fitted was joined to two standard S links still attached to the watch head, resulting in an unusual yet cool look – and, when he left McLaren at the end of ’93, Senna swapped the watch (for a Casio) with mechanic Ron Pellat.
A decade later it appeared at a Bonhams auction in Monaco where it sold for little more than £10,000, only to cross the block again in 2007, when it fetched almost £50,000. And it wasn’t bought for the TAG Heuer museum, where there is an S/el on display that looks just like Senna’s – but isn’t… Surely it’s time for the launch of an accurate limited edition replica?
TAG Heuer Formula 1 x Senna, £1900
Aimed at the wealthy buyers of the remastered 911s made by rock guitarist Rob Dickinson’s Singer Vehicle Design, the Flamboyant Red Edition is the latest take on the Track1 chronograph from Singer Reimagined. The watch business was conceived by Dickinson and industrial designer Marco Borraccino to complement the cars, with the Track1 echoing the Singer code of retro looks and modern engineering. The AgenGraphe movement by watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht is the heart of the 43mm watch.
Singer Track1 Flamboyant Red Edition, £36,100 plus VAT
A Year in to its partnership with Aston Martin, Girard-Perregaux has introduced a second model dedicated to the marque in the form of this Laureato Chronograph that features a dial in British Racing Green. The rich hue is the result of seven individual paint layers, with the embossed crosshatch motif inspired by the original Aston logo and quilted seats found in its sports cars. The 42mm watch and matching bracelet are top-grade 904L steel, and 188 examples will be available.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Aston Martin Edition, £14,000