It’s hard to believe the 2024 Formula 1 season kicks off next month. Coincidentally, we have 24 races to look forward to this year. The preseason build-up has already witnessed surprising changes in team lineups. Affectionately known as “silly season,” these driver swaps do not go into effect until post-season. For now, we can enjoy the anticipation of what these 24 races can bring and, importantly for here, the watch brands sponsoring each manufacturer. Some F1 teams have rebranded this year and are yet to announce their respective watch sponsor. As the season progresses, I’m sure we’ll find out about new timing partners. But for now, I will cover each team and weigh in with my hot takes on the suitability of the collaboration.

Formula 1 Global Partner and Official Timekeeper — Rolex (since 2013)

It’s a long tradition that F1 drivers sport luxury watches when roaming the pitlane. Some even venture out on the track with their trusty timepieces. Jack Heuer and racing driver Jo Siffert made advertising Heuer watches a lucrative concept in the sport during the ’60s. Soon enough, Heuer branding was present on many drivers’ racing overalls. Heuer was prominently displayed in the 1971 racing docu-drama Le Mans, starring Steve McQueen. The official timekeeper of Formula 1 is now Rolex, but The Crown was not the first brand to have the honor. Heuer established the process for officiating timekeeping in the ’70s. Longines then took over in the ’80s, followed by the rebranded TAG Heuer in the ’90s. Hublot took the reigns in the 2000s before Rolex took its rightful place as F1’s official timekeeper since the 2013 season.

Rolex Daytona

Jenson Button

Rolex does not sponsor a particular team or active driver on the grid. However, many retired legends of the sport, such as Sir Jackie Stewart and Jenson Button, serve as Rolex Testimonees. As an official timekeeper, Rolex has a set of responsibilities similar to Omega’s at the Olympics. The timing equipment must be maintained and cross-examined to ensure consistency and accuracy. The most recent race weekend I can recall where the timing equipment failed was the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying session. A broken cable led to a lengthy delay in discovering who would end up in pole position. Fernando Alonso got the fastest lap, but the calamity highlighted the importance of reliable timing equipment.

It’s lights out, and away we go

The list below is in order of each team’s 2023 Constructors’ Championship standings. The list also features the team name (specifically, the name of the chassis) per the FIA 2024 F1 team entry list. I don’t have a particular team allegiance; I just enjoy good racing. But I will divulge my opinion on whether each watch brand aligns with its respective F1 team.

Red Bull Racing Honda Sergio Perez TAG Heuer

Red Bull Racing — TAG Heuer (since 2016)

In 2021, Red Bull extended its timing sponsor with TAG Heuer until the end of the 2024 season. This partnership began in 2016 when driver Max Verstappen replaced Daniil Kvyat mid-season. It was an emphatic debut as Verstappen secured his maiden victory in his first outing in a Red Bull car. In consecutive years, Verstappen has become a three-time world champion (2021–23). However, there was a deeper collaboration between TAG Heuer and Red Bull in the early stages. Red Bull and engine supplier Renault had a strong relationship during the dominant V8 era of the 2010s. That relationship soured with the regulation change to V6 turbos.

Max Verstappen

The Renault engine was down on power compared to competitors. Adding to this were behind-the-scenes antics between Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and then-Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul. As seen in Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive, the relationship between the team and engine supplier broke down to an uncomfortable level, so much so that Red Bull rebranded the Renault engine as TAG Heuer — despite TAG not developing a motor for that season. Later, Red Bull moved to Honda engines and enjoyed success with three drivers and two Constructors’ Championships.

Hot take: Red Bull is a dominant force in F1 and achieved a record-breaking 21 victories out of 22 races last year. Despite this incredible form, TAG Heuer has not capitalized on Red Bull or Max Verstappen with exciting watch releases. Lex went into great detail about TAG Heuer’s missed opportunities here. We will wait to see how TAG Heuer’s final season with Red Bull unfolds.

Mercedes — IWC Schaffhausen (since 2013)

Mercedes has had a great run of form since the hybrid V6 turbo replaced the V8s in 2014. Lewis Hamilton won six championships over seven seasons and ties with the great Michael Schumacher with seven world titles. However, for the last couple of seasons, Mercedes’s dominance has waned with the resurgence of Red Bull. Although Mercedes secured second place in the championship last year, it was less than half the points of the Red Bull team. The news that Sir Lewis Hamilton is departing the team for Ferrari after this season is undoubtedly a massive blow to Mercedes. But with the draw of the Brackley-based factory, I’m sure plenty of suitors are lining up for the spare seat. IWC has been the watch sponsor since 2013 before Mercedes hit its stride the following year.

Initially, IWC’s only exposure was when the drivers were out of the car, showing their wrists during interviews and on the podium. Before long, IWC had the idea to print a selection of its collection on the racing gloves in the position where the watch would naturally sit. This way, the action on track, especially within the cockpit, always gives the viewers a glimpse of the IWC branding. Eventually, IWC marked the partnership with special editions of the Big Pilot’s Watch, Pilot’s Watch Chronograph, and Ingenieur.

Hot take: With Hamilton being a core part of IWC’s motorsports marketing, it could be a blow to the Schaffhausen brand. IWC has clarified that it does not plan to continue with Hamilton’s endorsement post-2024. IWC states, “We look forward to another exciting season together. For his future endeavors, on and off the race track, we wish Lewis all the best.” But IWC remains the Mercedes timing partner.

Who Will Win The Battle Of Thin?

Ferrari — Richard Mille (since 2021)

Ferrari has an eclectic history with many watch brands, which you can read about here. The sporting greatness of Ferrari is a primary factor for why nabbing a sponsorship contract is a huge pull. In 2021, Richard Mille joined to replace Hublot, which held the watch deal with Ferrari for 10 years. Richard Mille has since created incredible timepieces with Ferrari co-branding. The Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari is a record-breaking watch just 1.75mm thick, with the prancing-horse logo emblazoned on the front.

Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari 10

The Ferrari team has the potential to do well this season, with Carlos Sainz undertaking his final outing with the marque. But it’s 2025 that I think many will look forward to with Hamilton joining the team.

Hot take: The Ferrari and Richard Mille brands coalesce with hyper-luxury products, technical innovation, and high demand. There’s a prestige to each outfit, and with the upcoming Hamilton signing, Richard Mille can lean on the driver’s unique style and create something special.

Richard Mille RM 40-01 Automatic Winding Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail

McLaren — Richard Mille (since 2016)

Wait, didn’t I mention Richard Mille? That’s right; Richard Mille has been the timing partner for two Formula 1 teams since 2021. And they’re not just any teams either as Ferrari and McLaren have always been fierce competitors since McLaren joined the sport in the ’60s. Richard Mille is a luxurious and exclusive watch company, with the average watch costing US$200,000. McLaren’s Automotive arm also sells hypercars with cutting-edge technology and expressive designs.

Richard Mille is no stranger to supplying lightweight, shock-resistant wrist machines to world sports stars. The brand’s founder is an avid motorsports fan and often visits the paddock alongside F1 racers. It’s alarming to see so many high-priced watches in the trackside areas begging to be snatched by pitlane pass holders, as Charles Leclerc experienced when his loaned Richard Mille 67-02 was stolen in Italy in April 2022. The first McLaren timepiece from Richard Mille was a whopping US$1,000,000 tour de force — a rattrapante chronograph with tourbillon and torque indicators wrapped in a 40g NPTP carbon case with a colorful elasticated strap. The Richard Mille 50-03 McLaren is a perfect precision instrument for the high-end carmaker.

Hot take: Despite Richard Mille pricing the average watch-collecting F1 fan out of contention, the McLaren partnership suits the rejuvenation of its F1 performance. The start of 2023 looked grim for McLaren, but the podium positions came through in the second half. F1 drivers also seem to like the lightweight and technical timepieces, similar to their race machines.

Aston Martin Aramco — Girard-Perregaux (since 2021)

Aston Martin will continue its partnership with Girard-Perregaux for 2024 and announced an extension beyond this season. The team made its F1 comeback in 2021 when Canadian investment mogul Lawrence Stroll took over the British icon. After two shaky seasons, 2023 started brilliantly, especially with Spanish legend Fernando Alonso behind the wheel. Alonso achieved six podium finishes in the first eight races. Aston Martin’s results dipped in the middle part of the season, later returning to the podium towards the end.

Girard Perregaux Austin Martin Laureato

Girard-Perregaux most overtly evokes the classic green Aston Martin livery in its Laureato Green Ceramic LE. But Girard-Perregaux has been around F1 before. From 1994 to 2004, Girard-Perregaux was Ferrari’s sponsor. Luigi Macaluso, the president of the Sowind Group that owned Girard-Perregaux, was good friends with Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo. They made a deal, and Girard-Perregaux badges began appearing on the prancing horses. Conversely, the GP chronographs featured minimal Ferrari branding on the dials, unlike most brands tied to the Italian supercar maker.

Hot take: Until last year, I didn’t feel Girard-Perregaux made the most of its partnership with Aston Martin. But the Laureato Green Ceramic nailed the details, paying homage to Aston Martin and its unique design.

Alpine — H. Moser & Cie. (since 2024)

Renault rebranded its F1 team as Alpine in 2021 to shift its Renault Sport department to a spin-off company. You may recall the Alpine A110 in the world of rallying, but the brand fell dormant in the mid-’90s. Alpine appeals to enthusiasts of the early ’70s rally cars, and the F1 and World Endurance Championship (WEC) teams seek to build on that nostalgia.

Fellow French brand Bell & Ross sponsored Alpine until last year. But for 2024, H. Moser & Cie. emerges as Alpine Motorsports’ first-ever global partner. The partnership covers all of Alpine’s motorsport divisions, with F1 being the highest profile.

Hot take: This announcement took me by surprise. H. Moser was not a watch manufacturer that I expected to see strewn across a race car. With a pedigree of elegant designs and traditional watch craft, H. Moser & Cie. is more suited to sophisticated events. Yet I can also see the Streamliner model being a great platform to showcase the Alpine team’s tricolor livery.

Williams — No watch sponsor (Formerly Bremont 2021–2023)

I began my Formula 1 fandom in the mid-’90s during the heyday of Williams. Damon Hill was my favorite driver, and his battles with an up-and-coming Micheal Schumacher were enthralling. From 2003 to 2018, Oris handled the timing duties for Williams. But for 2019 and 2020, Williams did not have a watch sponsor. British watch brand Bremont picked up the slack where Oris left off and came on board for 2021. Sadly, Williams is without a sponsor for 2024 after Bremont’s contract naturally came to an end last year. Bremont’s partnerships division has been restructuring since appointing Davide Cerrato as CEO in 2023.

New Tudor Black Bay

Visa Cash App RB — Tudor (since 2024)

For 2024, the sister Red Bull team, Scuderia AlphaTauri, confusingly rebrands to RB. The whole team’s name is Visa Cash App RB. It’s possibly the worst and most commercialized F1 team name I have ever heard. Indeed, the season hasn’t kicked off yet, so fans may get used to the name eventually. For now, though, it’s tough to figure out how to refer to the team in short form. “RB” is the initialism for Red Bull, a different team, making it even more confusing. Internally, the outfit refers to itself as VCARB, which sounds like a dietary supplement.

New Tudor

Casio Edifice sponsored the previous iteration of Scuderia AlphaTauri in 2016. But for 2024, Tudor joins as Visa CashApp RB’s official timing partner. As this is a fresh announcement, it will be some time before we see co-branded timepieces for sale, but Tudor did confirm the existence of a new blue-dial Black Bay Ceramic. Interestingly enough, my colleague Lex had already called out the possibility for the Red Bull group to partner with Tudor:

“It made us think of Tudor sponsoring a Formula 1 team. Rolex sponsors the whole F1 circus already, so why wouldn’t Tudor be interested in backing a participating team? How about the Red Bull Team, for instance, since Tudor and the energy drink company already work together on the water?”

Hot take: Cynically, I see Tudor’s announcement as a strategic move to take the reigns from TAG Heuer at Red Bull after this season. I don’t believe Tudor’s goal is to co-brand with Visa Cash App RB. But I see this as a stopgap to get to the big team at the sharp end of the grid. Time will tell, but you can mark my words.

Kick Sauber — No watch sponsor (Formerly Rebellion Timepieces 2022–2023)

In 2020, Richard Mille sponsored Alfa Romeo F1, which is now Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber for this season (another terrible name). Rebellion Timepieces then came on board for 2022 and 2023. But since then, Rebellion Timepieces has shut down. The official statement is:

“The Board of Directors of Rebellion has decided to concentrate exclusively on automotive activities. We are therefore terminating the activities of Rebellion Timepieces SA.”

While watching the Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber launch, I noticed drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu still wearing Rebellion watches. But given the recency of Rebellion’s statement, we can only assume the watches won’t remain on their wrists when the season gets going.

Haas — No watch sponsor

Haas driver Romain Grosjean was also affiliated with Richard Mille until his spectacular exit in 2020. But with the high-end Swiss brand taking on McLaren and Ferrari, the deal with this backmarker team has vaporized. As a result, Haas does not have an affiliation with a watch brand for 2024 as of the time of writing.

Watch brands and Formula 1 in 2024 and beyond

If you’re an F1 fan, which team and watch brand do you think make the best partners? Are there any partnerships that you would like to see in the future? Let me know in the comments, and enjoy the 2024 Formula 1 season.