Tag Heuer Formula 1: The Watchmakers’ Longstanding Roots in Motorsports
The culture of Formula 1 racing often caters to an upper-class demographic. A prime example is the motorsport’s longstanding business relationship with the Swiss luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer. The partnership goes back decades, with the brand sponsoring some of history’s best F1 teams and drivers.
As Formula 1 has grown into a globally recognized phenomenon, other premium watch companies have joined in to sponsor notable drivers.
TAG Heuer Formula 1
TAG Heuer’s impact on motor racing started on a purely functional basis. The company created several dashboard timers and stopwatches that were used to keep time during racing events in the 1960s. As Medium explains, they began to sponsor teams and drivers a few years later.
TAG Heuer partnered with Ferrari in 1971. The racing team benefited greatly from this collaboration. Niki Lauda won two World Championships in 1975 and 1977, while Jody Sheckter added one of his own in 1979.
The watch brand soon became a good luck charm for other F1 teams. McLaren became the latest TAG Heuer partner in 1985, just as team members Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna won four championships in five years to end the decade. (Senna also became a TAG ambassador in 1988, and the brand made a limited-edition watch in his honor after he died.)
TAG sponsored Williams in the ’90s when the team won four championships of their own thanks to Prost, Nigel Mansell, and Damon Hill.
Tag Heuer’s current partnership with Red Bull Racing
Ahead of the 2016 season, TAG Heuer surprised the racing world by ending its 30-year association with McLaren to become the partner for Red Bull Racing. The brand sponsored the team for three seasons, where RBR got close to glory but ultimately fell short of an F1 championship. They finished second in 2016 and third in 2017 and 2018.
Red Bull Racing is now sponsored by the software company Oracle, but TAG Heuer still works with the team in a different capacity. Last year, the company created a series of watches — sorry, timepieces — inspired by Red Bull Racing’s legacy of excellence.
The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Red Bull Racing Special Edition bears the team’s midnight blue and red color scheme and features other details to reflect the world of motor racing. The numbers on the face are in the style of speedometers. Both a chequered flag and the RBR team logo are engraved on the back. There is also a bezel captioned with the word “SPEED” in case you forget how F1 races are won.
The quartz-powered chronograph is accurate to a tenth of a second. The timepieces can be equipped with a stainless-steel bracelet or blue rubber strap. The watches are available on TAG Heuer’s website for $1,850–$2,550. If you’re curious what they look like when worn, you’ll likely see a TAG Heuer piece adorning the wrists of Red Bull teammates Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
The other top Formula 1 watch partnerships
TAG Heuer isn’t the only luxury watch brand to link itself with Formula 1. Rolex has sponsored the Le Mans 24 Hours race since 2001. As Car Expert explains, other watchmakers are currently partnered with F1 teams.
McLaren‘s racing team has underperformed recently but is attempting to get back up the charts with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri. The drivers and many crew members wear a version of the RM 67-02 watch from Richard Mille. The watch brand also sponsors Ferrari, so their drivers, Carlos Sainz and Charles LeClerc, also wear their products.
Mercedes AMG was a force on the circuit before updated regulations led to consistent performance issues for the team. They’re currently a distant second in the WCC standings behind Red Bull Racing. The team’s drivers, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, are doing so while wearing watches from IWC Schaffhausen.
Aston Martin, in third place, has timepieces courtesy of their official partner Girard-Perregaux.
Alpine (formerly Renault) is in sixth place, looking to rebound after losing Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin. Watchmakers Bell & Ross made the BR 03-94 A521 specifically for the Alpine F1 team.
British F1 team Williams began their partnership with Bremont Chronometers in 2022. Drivers Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant wear timepieces from the company.
Alfa Romeo members Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu wear watches from Rebellion Timepieces, a small brand from Switzerland.
The only teams that don’t have a watch sponsor are Haas and AlphaTauri, the sister team to Red Bull Racing.