7 minutes

The Who’s Who of Formula 1 and Watches

By Sebastian Swart

On November 20, 2022, the 73rd edition of the Formula 1 World Championship will wrap up in Abu Dhabi. Who will come out on top? Will it be Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, or Sergio Pérez? Regardless of who wins, chances are the team will have links to one of the leading luxury watch manufacturers. Well-known brands such as IWC, Girard Perregaux, and Bell & Ross have all presented some special racing editions that we’d like to take a closer look at. Buckle up, ’cause here we go! 

Richard Mille RM UP-01 – The World’s Thinnest Watch for Ferrari  

Richard Mille is known for making unique high-tech timepieces, many of which draw on materials from the world of racing. Richard Mille can count several prominent drivers among its fans, including Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc, and Mick Schumacher, to name a few. One of the first big names to don the brand was Felipe Massa, for whom the RM 011 FM was exclusively designed. 

 Richard Mille RM 011 FM
Richard Mille RM 011 FM

It’s no secret that purchasing a Richard Mille timepiece is a costly affair. So it’s hardly surprising that the RM UP-01, born from a collaboration with Ferrari, costs about the same as a single-family home in a very desirable location. For the requisite $1.9 million, however, you will receive an absolutely stunning superlative timepiece – and a world-record holder, to boot!  

Standing just 1.75 mm tall, the RM UP-01 is officially the thinnest watch in the world, replacing the previous record holder – the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra, which measures just 1.8 mm – in mid-2022. Richard Mille even managed to develop a separate case back for the watch, unlike the Bulgari, which uses on the movement plate as its case back. The super light case is made of grade 5 titanium, as are the movement baseplate and bridges, which measure just 41.5 x 18.85 mm and 1.18 mm thick, respectively. In order to attain these almost unfathomable figures, Richard Mille’s engineers had to employ a few different tricks of the trade. The movement, which weighs just 2.82 g (0.09 oz), relies on a redesigned pallet fork, freely oscillating balance wheel, and a redesigned winding mechanism. Despite its small size, the movement offers a power reserve of 45 hours. 

As opposed to a traditional crown, the RM UP-01 utilizes two controls that are integrated flush into the movement. These are positioned on the left side of the dial and operated from above. The upper control can be used to select the mode (set or wind), while the lower executes the desired function. The strap construction is likewise unique: It is connected directly to the case with eight tiny screws. 

We can’t fail to mention the time display, which is located in the center of the upper half of the dial. You can admire an open view of the balance wheel right next door. Both displays are protected by a wafer-thin sapphire crystal. The Ferrari logo also assumes a prominent position at the bottom right of the case front. 

The RM UP-01 weighs a total of just 30 g, and it’s even slightly waterproof to 10 m (1 bar, 32 ft). But if it were me, I’d be slow to take this timepiece on a leisurely walk in the rain. Even if you are lucky enough to have a spare $1.9 million lying around, you’ll still have to fight to get your hands on one of the 150 examples of this limited edition timepiece. 

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IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Edition Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team  

Mercedes and IWC have been successfully working together for 18 years, 10 of those as official partners. This long-standing cooperation has resulted in several Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport editions. Initially part of the Ingenieur collection, these watches can now be found in the Pilot’s Watch line. The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Edition Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team (is that a record for longest watch name?), released in 2022, is the first of the series to be designed not only for drivers, but the whole of the Mercedes racing team.  

Similar to the other watches in the Pilot’s Watch collection, the case of this chronograph measures 41 mm across; however, unlike its sibling models, this watch is made of grade 5 titanium. This strong, corrosion-resistant material is also frequently used by Formula 1 engineers for components that are put under significant amounts of stress, such as valves. The case is sandblasted, which gives it a slight gray shimmer, and both the front and rear are outfitted with sapphire crystal. Thanks to its screw-down crown, this watch is water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft). The in-house caliber 69385 powers the watch and boasts a column wheel, 231 individual components, and a power reserve of 46 hours.  

The dial of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team also sets it apart from the rest of the collection. While the design does share some characteristics with the well-known Pilot’s Watch, the indices and hands are executed in the signature color of the Mercedes Formula 1 team: Petronas green.  

The IWC watch comes with two bands: a Petronas green rubber strap and a black calfskin leather strap with green stitching. Both are equipped with the EasX-CHANGE system, which enables the wearer to easily exchange the straps without using any additional tools.  

The official list price is $7,850, but due to high demand, you should expect to see prices some $2,000 higher on Chrono24. 

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Edition Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team (ref. IW388108)
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Edition Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team (ref. IW388108)

Girard Perregaux – A Laureato for Aston Martin 

The luxury watchmaker Girard Perregaux has an extensive history dating back to 1854, but even so, it remains an insider tip among watch fans. The flagship model in this brand’s lineup is undoubtedly the Laureato. First introduced in 1975, the watch is considered one of the best alternatives to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or Patek Philippe Nautilus, thanks to its Genta-inspired design. Girard Perregaux offers an exquisite level of manufacturing quality that is relatively affordable compared to the competition.  

In 2021, the brand paired up with the English racing team Aston Martin. Though the partnership remains young, Girard Perregaux has already presented three Aston Martin Formula 1 special edition timepieces, including the Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1, which I find most intriguing. The unique thing about this model is its choice of materials, which draw directly on those used in Aston Martin racers. 

The Laureato Absolute Aston Martin F1 Edition features a 44-mm case made of a mixture of titanium powder and carbon. The latter is sourced from two Formula 1 cars that were used in the 2021 season. Girard Perregaux combines the materials with a tinted resin, resulting in an extremely robust final product that is highly ductile. This term, derived from the Latin ducere, meaning “to pull,” describes a material that can be drawn out without losing its strength. Thanks to its specialized manufacturing process, each case has its own one-of-a-kind pattern.  

The Laureato Absolute’s dial is executed in Aston Martin’s signature Racing Green. It has a crosshatch pattern reminiscent of Aston Martin’s grille design. Yellow hands for the stop seconds and 30-minute counter at the 9 o’clock position give the watch a particularly sporty look. You’ll also find this accent color on the upper chronograph push-piece.  

The watch is powered by the automatic, in-house GP03300-1058 caliber, which can be viewed through the sapphire crystal case back. This marks the first time Girard Perregaux has used the transparent material for a case back. The brand has also broken new ground with the bracelet, which consists of a rubber and carbon mixture, which, like the case, is sourced from an Aston Martin racer. Like all Girard Perregaux Laureato variants, this special edition is water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft).  

The Laureato Absolute Chronograph Aston Martin F1 Edition has a limited run of 306 pieces and an official list price of $27,800. Given the model’s popularity and limited supply, prices on Chrono24 are well above the MSRP. 

Girard Perregaux Laureato Absolute Aston Martin F1 Edition in Racing Green
Girard Perregaux Laureato Absolute Aston Martin F1 Edition in Racing Green

Bell & Ross BR V3-94 A521 Alpine – Blue With Sharp Contours  

The French brand Bell & Ross has a relatively short history, dating back to 1992. The manufacturer was founded by two friends, Bruno Belamich (Bell) and Carlos Rosillo (Ross), as part of a university project. After a four-year partnership with the Renault Formula 1 team, which officially came to a close in 2020, the brand teamed up with the French racing team Alpine. This collaboration resulted in the 2021 release of the Bell & Ross BR V3-94 A521 chronograph. The model name is a nod to the Alpine A521, which the team has been racing since 2021. 

As is characteristic for the BR 03-94 line, the watch features a square, 42-mm case made of stainless steel. The circular bezel with a countdown scale offers a nice contrast to the angular case shape. Bell & Ross describes this design as “a circle within a square.” The black dial has a classic bicompax layout, with subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock. In contrast to other models in the BR 03-94 series, the date is not at 4:30, but rather at the 6 o’clock position. Arabic numerals in a dynamic font serve as the hour indices, underscoring the watch’s sporty character. The rehaut and chronograph hands are both a striking tone of Alpine blue, the racing team’s signature color. Similarly striking is the shape of the two black chronograph push-pieces, which are inspired by the shifting paddles on the steering wheels of race cars. As is expected, the watch has a sapphire crystal and is water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft).  

The automatic BR-CAL.301 powers the watch and provides it with a 42-hour power reserve. The movement is based on the widely-known ETA 2894-2 and features a chronograph module. For the band, Bell & Ross offer you the choice of a perforated rubber strap with a tread texture or a steel bracelet. 

The BR V3-94 A521 has a limited run of 500 pieces and an official list price of $4,800. 

Blue with sharp contours: the Bell & Ross BR V3-94 A521
Blue with sharp contours: the Bell & Ross BR V3-94 A521


About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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