The symbiosis between watchmaking and motor racing is complete. In both worlds, time and accuracy are all that count. It’s no wonder that some of the most familiar commercial partnerships in the sport, between teams and individual drivers, have been forged between the timepiece elite and their track counterparts. Here, in this special supplement, we acknowledge that bond and investigate how — and why — motor racing has fallen in love with the wristwatch in all its forms.
Think of a watch brand synonymous with the sport and there’s a fair chance TAG Heuer will be high on the list. From the late 1960s with Jo Siffert through the filming of Steve McQueen’s Le Mans and on to the Ferrari Formula 1 team of the 1970s, the company logo became intertwined with racing imagery. Today, that connection remains through McLaren in F1 and Audi in sports car racing. It is the archetype of long-standing deals that go far beyond mere sponsorship and Jack Heuer reminds us how it all came to be.
There are other approaches to motor sport that don’t perhaps have the same longevity — yet — but can be equally effective in the modern age.
Take Japanese giant Casio. Through its relationship with three-time F1 World Champion Red Bull Racing, the company is changing our perception of its products.
Oris is another to use F1 to spread its word, in this case with Williams. The race team is performing below par right now, but for the longestablished Swiss watchmaker that’s missing the point. As we discover, Oris and Williams share a loyal and independent spirit that have made them complementary bedfellows for more than 10 years.
Then there are newer brands, such as TW Steel. The Dutch company that specialises in `over-sized’ watches built awareness through Al GP, then used F1 with Renault, Lotus and now Force India. It’s a classic example of how to create a big impact in a short space of time.
The ‘newbies’ aim to match established brands such as Chopard, which has invested in the industry over many years to connect with motor sport’s global fanbase. Consistently, they find their customers share a passion for cars. And in motor racing, the demand for precision engineering delivered at speed offers partnerships that are of mutual benefit. These are just a selection.