Go-Faster Green? The Watch IWC Is Making For The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team
With eight consecutive constructors championship wins between 2014 and 2021 and joint-record drivers’ champion Sir Lewis Hamilton still firmly strapped in the saddle, the 950-odd employees of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team won’t be too fazed by their faltering start to 2022’s race calendar. Nonetheless, from the aerodynamics studio in Brackley, Oxfordshire, to the gleaming asphalt pit lane of Miami International Autodrome this weekend, spirits will be lifted by a certain delivery from IWC Schaffhausen.
IWC’s new team watch finds itself on the wrists of the hundreds of engineers, designers, strategists and other people responsible for getting Sir Lewis and Mr George Russell round the track. Launched today at the inauguration of the new circuit, which twists for 3.6 miles around Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, it’s called the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Edition Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. And you can join the gang for just £6,850.
In keeping with the watchmaker’s bold offering at Watches and Wonders in Geneva one month ago, it’s all about colour. Specifically, principal sponsor and Malaysian oil giant Petronas’s corporate colour: a vibrant mint green, which Switzerland’s Super-LumiNova facility has matched in tritium-charged phosphorescent paint for the numerals and indices.
Serendipitously, the human eye happens to have the highest sensitivity to the green end of the spectrum when moving from sunlight into the dark (so-called photopic vision). “Petronas-green” lume therefore finds itself ideally suited to Monaco’s road circuit or Alpine races where drivers are constantly plunging from bright sunlight into dark tunnels.
The colour pop doesn’t stop at the dial read-out. The watch comes with two straps in contrast-stitch calfskin and full-green rubber, which can be exchanged quickly and easily, thanks to IWC’s integrated EasX-CHANGE feature (just one of several quick-change strap systems introduced market-wide in recent years that spare us the scratched lugs and bleeding cuticles that come with spring bars and twin-pronged tools).
IWC Schaffhausen has been the official engineering partner of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team since 2013, off the back of a partnership forged nine years before with AMG’s performance road-car division (IWC dash clocks used to come as standard, in keeping with early-2000s largesse).
Today, it is the longest-standing watch partner on the F1 grid, but not the only one. Given the uncompromisingly engineered, high-performance nature of their respective worlds, it was inevitable that Paris-based Bell & Ross would pledge allegiance with Renault F1’s Alpine team. Oxfordshire’s rugged chronometer maker Bremont shares CNC skills with Williams Racing up the road. TAG Heuer is riding shotgun with Red Bull Racing, having invented the very notion of the racing-driver watch in the 1960s with every petrolhead collector’s holy trinity of Autavia/Carrera/Monaco.
The new IWC team watch is a stopwatch-fitted chronograph, all 231 mechanical parts manufactured in-house and based around the bulletproof Valjoux 7750 concept of 1972, only its start/stop/reset coordinated centrally by a column wheel clutch over the more agricultural cam-mediated mechanism. It’s all packaged up in IWC’s immortal Pilot’s design, the case machined from a solid block of F1 and aero-grade titanium, which offers the highest strength-to-density ratio of any metal.
“Today, IWC is the longest-standing watch partner on the F1 grid”
The real surprise is that it’s taken so long for these two sympatico brands to develop a uniform watch for the team itself (and that really is everyone, including designers, aerodynamicists, race engineers, strategists and mechanics). As Mr Toto Wolff, team principal and CEO of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1, attests, “Our team members will wear this timepiece with joy and pride. It underscores our spirit of unity… and is also a testament to the unique relationship we have built with IWC.”
After a purple patch of eight years, it would be churlish to write off the 2022 championship prospects of Brackley’s finest. As IWC is reminding us, green means go and the 950 people putting those two cars on the grid every fortnight now have no excuse to forget it.