Watches

Lewis Hamilton vs. Max Verstappen / IWC vs. TAG Heuer: The One Formula 1 Race Where Everyone Wins

With the 2021 Formula 1 season’s last race taking place this weekend, December 10-12, 2021, in Abu Dhabi, and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull) tied for first place, the heat is on like never before.

IWC ambassador and seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton

While their rivalry often seems to get personal, the truth of the matter is that they are both athletes competing at an incredibly high level. It reminds us of the times of Niki Lauda vs. James Hunt: two different characters, two different styles, yet with the same goals.

As much as these rivals might not seem to like each other in public, I do think that there is a great deal of mutual respect among them. A great car doesn’t automatically make you a world champion, so Hamilton winning the title seven times certainly didn’t happen by chance.

TAG Heuer ambassador Max Verstappen

At the same time, keeping up with, and even at times beating, such a champion also says a lot about Verstappen’s qualities. While there seems to be no middle ground between them or their fans, what they do is what Formula 1 should be all about.

The battle between Hamilton and Verstappen is, in essence, also a match between the two watch brands that sponsor them: IWC (Hamilton) and TAG Heuer (Verstappen), with both brands benefitting from the battles on the track.

Flying high and fast

What I like about the partnership between Hamilton and IWC is that it seems sincere. While Hamilton is financially compensated for being an ambassador for the brand, it goes beyond that. He seems to enjoy wearing the watches and that makes the connection genuine. I feel that this is something consumers pick up on. They sense whether money is the main reason to wear a certain watch for a brand ambassador or whether it is a mere side benefit to be paid to do so. For Hamilton, it seems to be the latter.

TAG Heuer Monaco Titan

Verstappen lives up to his reputation of being a disruptor: he wears TAG Heuer a lot, but has on occasion also been spotted in private wearing watches like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. As this brand is quite far removed from the TAG Heuer universe, I doubt if it will have a negative impact. All the more so because the TAG Heuer models he wears on the track are very notable and nicely in tune with the racing scene, like the Monaco Titan he has been sporting lately.

A perpetual passion

Hamilton seems to have a profound preference for IWC’s pilot’s watches, particularly the Big Pilot. He has been seen wearing some of the more distinct versions of this watch in recent years, including the Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar Boutique Edition and the Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Edition Mojave Desert.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Edition Mojave Desert

I think that it has been a brilliant move for IWC to cater to the unique style of Hamilton by making watches specifically for him. It illustrates the intimate relationship the brand has with the seven-time Formula 1 World Champion. An example of this is the black Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar in Ceratanium with a matching bracelet and minimalistic dial that the brand made for him. It is a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement, of which Hamilton is a vocal supporter.

Lewis Hamilton wearing the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar ‘Lewis Hamilton’ that he co-designed

Quite different is the limited edition of the same Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar that he designed with IWC in 2019. Here, the black case contrasts with a rich, burgundy dial and red gold details complemented by a red gold crown. It is a tantalizing creation that might have upset a few purists, but at the same time caught the eye of quite a few less traditional potential clients.

This is also the added advantage that Hamilton brings to IWC: he not only gives them more exposure but also provides the benefit of stretching the brand image in a more fashionable direction without compromising its “DNA” or credibility.

Catering to the masses

The strategy of TAG Heuer has been a different one. The brand tapped right into the fanbase of Red Bull and Verstappen by creating special editions with them based on the Formula 1 model. While this is TAG Heuer’s entry-level collection, it has quite a heritage of its own.

The Formula 1 collection was launched in 1986, making it the first entirely new watch to hit the market after Techniques d’Avant Garde took over Heuer, turning it into TAG Heuer. While considerably less expensive than the other offerings of the brand, it was very much in touch with the trends of its time. It combined bold colors with a distinct design, making it instantly recognizable. A quartz movement made it reliable, precise, and easy to handle, pleasing many consumers.

Calling a watch Formula 1 might sound a bit pretentious for any other brand, but TAG and Heuer have each earned their merits in this arena. Heuer’s story hardly needs re-telling: its chronographs had already become the favorites of many race car drivers for decades and the brand was a notable sponsor of Ferrari’s Formula 1 team in the 1970s.

Steve McQueen wearing a TAG Heuer Monaco in the film Le Mans

Steve McQueen wearing a TAG Heuer Monaco in the 1971 film ‘Le Mans’

Then there is the mythological Steve McQueen, who wore a Monaco in the 1971 movie Le Mans.

The history of Techniques d’Avant Garde, founded in 1977 by Akram Ojjeh, is a bit briefer. In 1979 it started sponsoring the Williams Formula 1 team, which it did until 1981. Then it purchased half of McLaren and funded the development of a 1.5-liter turbo engine made by Porsche, with which McLaren won the Formula 1 World Championships of 1984 and 1985. An interesting side note is that TAG was also briefly a car manufacturer itself, launching its amphibian TAG Croco (standing for “cross country”) in 1983, of which production unfortunately halted after number 60.

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Red Bull Racing Special Edition

Ever since its introduction, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 has become one of the pillars in the brand’s collection. TAG Heuer continued to develop the model range, refreshing its concept with every new generation to stay in touch with the trends of the time and its consumer base. While its price makes it an absolute entry-level watch for TAG Heuer, it offers quality that doesn’t disappoint with a design that stands out.

With the Verstappen special editions, the driver’s fans get a chance to own a watch closely connected to the world of Formula 1 and their favorite team and diver.

The winner takes it all?

While the last race of this year will determine who may call himself Formula 1 World Champion 2021, the truth is that there are only winners here. While Hamilton or Verstappen might not be pleased with finishing second, they need each other to become even better than they already are.

At the same time, Formula 1 needs them both as their battles bring the kind of excitement that does wonders for the popularity of the series. Their sponsors and partners, like IWC and TAG Heuer, will also be pleased as the overall coverage this season, with a particular focus on Hamilton and Verstappen, has been priceless.

So this weekend, I will make an exception and be double wristing with an IWC on one arm and a TAG Heuer on the other. Being Dutch, I would love to see Verstappen win. But most of all, I am looking forward to seeing some great driving to determine who will be the new – or old – Formula 1 World Champion.

Quick Facts TAG Heuer Formula 1 Red Bull Racing Special Edition
Case: 43 mm, stainless steel with an aluminum bezel, 200-meter water resistance
Movement: quartz, 1/10th of a second chronograph function
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronographPrice: €1,750 / $1,850

Quick Facts TAG Heuer Monaco Titan
Case: 39 x 39 mm, sandblasted grade 2 titanium, 100-meter water resistance
Movement: automatic Caliber 11 (based on Sellita SW-300), 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency, 40-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph
Limitation: 500 pieces
Price: €7,450 / $7,900

Quick Facts IWC Big Pilots Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Edition Mojave Desert
Case: 46.5 x 15.6 mm, ceramic
Movement: automatic Caliber 52615 with Pellaton automatic winding system, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 60-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve, perpetual calendar with date, day, month, year, and moon phase
Price: $34,000 / 35,000 Swiss francs

Quick Facts IWC Big Pilots Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition Lewis Hamilton
Case: 46.5 x 15.6 mm, ceramic
Movement: automatic Caliber 52615 with Pellaton automatic winding system, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 60-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve, perpetual calendar with date, day, month, year, and moon phase
Limitation: 100 pieces

You may also enjoy:

IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition Mojave Desert: For When You Feel The Need For (Ceramic) Speed

The Real Story Behind Steve McQueen’s Heuer Monaco: Exclusive Interview With ‘Le Mans’ Property Master Don Nunley

3 Race-Ready Chronographs From The 2021 Bell & Ross Alpine F1 Collection

Richard Mille And Formula 1: Collaborations Now Span Ferrari, McLaren, Mick Schumacher, Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikönnen, And Romain Grosjean

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.