Partnerships with motorsport have always been a logical choice for the watch industry for a plethora of reasons, and to this day we see numerous watch brands teaming up with all sorts of racing teams and organizations both big and small. Obviously, the pinnacle of motor racing—we’re talking about Formula One—has drawn its fair number of luxury watch partnerships over the years, spawning countless limited edition models paying tribute to the sport, specific racing teams, and legendary drivers both past and present. A closer look at the limited edition F1 watches currently in production reveals an interesting cross section of styles and budgets that may come as a bit of a surprise.
Bell & Ross BR-X1 RS17 — Renault F1
Visually speaking, the series of watches launched by Bell & Ross last year celebrating their partnership with the Renault F1 team was easily one of the more cleverly designed F1 watches we’ve seen in a while. Picking up on both the team’s colors (black and yellow), as well as the multitude of highlight colors found on the R.S.17’s steering wheel, the forged carbon BR-X1 is a prime example of a truly motorsport-centric timepiece (so long as you can handle the vibrant color). Unfortunately, the BR-X1 has sold out its limited 250-piece run (as have the 20 BR-X1 Tourbillon RS17 models), however its sibling the BR 03-94 RS17 is still available.
Richard Mille RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split Secs Chronograph Ultralight — Mclaren F1
Though visually Bell & Ross ticked all the boxes, no brand has ever come close to transferring that same drive for technical innovation and lightweight construction into a watch like Richard Mille. Launched at SIHH in 2017 for $980,000, the RM 50-03 for Mclaren F1 set a new benchmark for being the most lightweight split-seconds chronograph ever made. The caliber itself weighs only 5 grams, and once fitted with its strap the whole thing comes in at 40 grams. As a fun yet random comparison, that’s one gram less than the number of grams of sugar in a can of Coca-Cola.
Oris Williams Chronograph C.F.C. — Williams F1
On the much more affordable end of the spectrum, Oris teamed up with the Williams F1 team back in 2003, and since 2015 a series of Oris Williams watches has been in production featuring carbon fiber dials, cases, and other details that speak to the world of F1 racing. The self-winding chronograph uses a modified Valjoux 7750 movement packed in a slightly chunky 44mm case with an integrated rubber strap. Through until last year the C.F.C. was previously known as the Valtteri Bottas Limited Edition, though with Bottas moving from Williams to AMG at the end of the 2016 racing season it made sense to execute a change.
TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition
Of course TAG Heuer’s Formula 1 collection of watches could not be avoided when hitting this topic, as the brand has had a long relationship with Formula One in a number of ways throughout the years. The brand is currently the timekeeping sponsor of Red Bull Racing, and still maintains an ambassadorship relationship with racing legend and past F1 champion Ayrton Senna. Of the countless watches in the Formula 1 collection, this piece is one of two Ayrton Senna Special Editions on offer.
IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Edition “Tribute to Nico Rosberg”
Though Nico Rosberg retired after finally becoming Formula One Champion at the end of the 2016 season, his legend lives on in this very limited edition IWC Ingenieur. IWC has been an engineering partner of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team since 2013, and much like the other brands to grace this list, they’ve released an impressive assortment of limited edition watches over the years to celebrate this partnership in varying ways. What really sets this piece apart is its remarkably understated aesthetics, appearing as though it is just another smartly-designed Ingenieur chronograph, unless you’re familiar with the model in question already.
Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Unico Carbon Chronograph
Of course we couldn’t talk watches and motorsport without discussing Hublot and Ferrari. These latest Ferrari models center more around the general partnership between these two outspoken luxury brands, however Hublot has been involved with Scuderia Ferrari since 2011, and has produced some pretty spectacular limited editions for Ferrari over the years. Again less on the F1 bend, but the Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari Aperta is truly one of the most impressive creations to ever leave the boundary pushing brand’s manufacture.
Author: Justin Mastine-Frost