The partnership between IWC and Mercedes has almost reached the 10 year mark and in the run up to this anniversary, just ahead of the weekend’s big race, they have decided to launch the first official Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team watch.
Released in time for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, all 60 core members of the team (including designers, aerodynamicists, race engineers, strategists and mechanics) will be wearing the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 in the team’s signature Petronas green color.
In the spirit of full transparency, I am sharing my total beginner status in the automotive space disclaimer. I have mentioned this shortcoming in previous articles but I’m reminding you of it again here as I don’t want the novelty of me attending one of the most prestigious racing events to go unmentioned. That being said, spending time at the track and doing a deep dive into the parallels between automotive engineering and watchmaking helped my brain to get in the spirit of the Grand Prix. I may have also queued up a few episodes of Drive to Survive for my flight over.
The hugely popular Netflix show could be described as the Real Housewives of racing (not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing), but what I took away from watching it was a feeling of connection with the people behind the sport. Upon watching you realize how much goes on behind the scenes, the determination, the team effort, the very real and raw human emotion. The surge of Formula One’s popularity in the US is clearly directly in correlation with the show’s success. And now it feels as though, much like any other sport, there is an emotional investment in the victory of one’s chosen team and racer.
I was now equipped with a bit more F1 context before seeing Lewis Hamilton last Wednesday for IWC’s Charity Golf Challenge with Tom Brady. Lewis is a seven-time Formula One World Champion and known as a racing hero to many, but he is also a huge advocate of social justice and wants to make sure he can initiate change in a sport that is so hard to penetrate without the right social background and income. We chatted about his favorite fashion designers and what sneakers he has in rotation but the main takeaway from Lewis was his dedication to giving a platform to a younger generation who may not have access to the environment and tools they need to fulfill their aspirations.
We spoke back in March at the IWC booth at Watches in Wonders where I asked him about his interest in young up-and-coming designers, he highlighted his privileged position and what he believed was his duty to give a platform to others. “There are a lot of young, amazing, talented designers who don’t have a platform and don’t have the same opportunities as others do and that’s something I want to see if I can help tap into”. We left it as a discussion to be continued but something tells me we need to watch this space!
Back at the Miami GP Paddock where we were given a tour of the Mercedes Garage, I began to make more of a connection between high performance team racing and watchmaking. It’s a game of reliability and precision, there is always a highly skilled engineer, but above all, a real human behind the mechanism. There are dedicated specialists in both worlds whose mechanical expertise is invaluable.
IWC is known for being at the top of the aviation watch food chain, however, at the core of things, be it aviation or racing, I think we can consider both Captain and Racecar Driver as Pilots. The new Pilot Chronograph 41 is grade 5 titanium, this choice of material was inspired primarily by what a mechanic would need in practical terms when wearing their watch in the workshop and garage. IWC was a pioneer of titanium back in the 80s and have always been on top of their materials game, the brand’s Chief Design Director Christian Knoop noted that “Performance material was very much the foundation of this watch.” In layman's terms, they needed something that could be bashed around with little consequence. This edition of the Pilot Chronograph 41 features a black dial with printing and luminescence in the team’s signature color and is powered by the IWC-manufactured 69385 caliber movement. The chronograph comes with two straps in calfskin and rubber that can be exchanged quickly with the integrated EasX-CHANGE® system.
This new timepiece is a much braver and bolder choice than the Top Gun Pantone color ceramics released in March. We have seen a lot more color in the world of watchmaking recently and now there’s a watch that’s truly identifiable as the team’s watch in a very recognisable hue of Petronas green.
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Edition “Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One™ Team” is available for purchase online and is priced at $7,850.