Rolex, the leading luxury watchmaking brand and a pioneer of sports sponsorship, will become a major long-term partner of Formula 1™ from 2013 as Official Timekeeper and Official Timepiece. This reinforces Rolex’s commitment to motor racing and its support of global sport at the very highest level.
So while all the mutual backslapping and congratulations between F1 and Rolex continues, one has to ask, what happened to Hublot? They were nominated just under two years ago amid much fanfare. It has proved to be a very short tenure as the Official Timekeeper and Official Timepiece for Formula 1. Was the reason for the sudden end financial, political, or personal? Or was it always just going to be a two year contract while Rolex readied itself?
One thing’s for sure. The tone is going to change. We won’t see a single Rolex watch daubed with F1 logos, or adopting the racing colours of each country on the racing calendar. There won’t be new models coming off the production line almost on a whim. There’ll be no brake style pushers or loud fancy stitched leather straps either, thank you very much.
What F1 will get is a safe pair of hands complete with immaculately clean and manicured nails. Rolex’s sponsorship will be handled in the stately, conservative Rolls-Royce exclusivity that it applies to other key events that it sponsors such as tennis, yachting and equestrianism. The natural fit here is not so much Bernie Ecclestone’s cheeky chappy persona coupled with Jean-Claude Biver’s larger than life presence at every product launch. For Rolex and for Formula 1, it’s all about a powerful global presence, and massive brand recognition. In fact the tables have turned, and of the two brands, Rolex is the bigger name.
That’s not to say we may not see some exciting new developments from Rolex. There’s bound to be a radically overhauled Rolex Daytona Chronograph. Could we even see a Rolex Race Dweller to go along with their popular Sea and Sky Dweller models? Probably not. Rolex will continue to handle new product launches with the Stasi-style state secrecy that it applies to all its affairs.
All will be revealed when the new Formula 1 racing season starts its mighty engines in Australia in March 2013.