Cars and watches… It’s a topic that we’ve touched on multiple occasions, being one of the most natural matches possible. And for this reason, watchmakers have long partnered with Formula 1 teams and drivers. The mechanical connection, the search for performance and precision, the innovative spirit… It’s all there. However, for some, it goes beyond that. Specifically for Lewis Hamilton, known for his acquired sense of style and his bold personality. Watches, for him, are more than just timekeepers. On the occasion of the launch of the Portugieser Tourbillon Retrograde Chronograph Lewis Hamilton, we’ll be talking watches with him. IWC watches, of course.
Frank Geelen, MONOCHROME – Lewis, you’ve been seen wearing a variety of IWC watches, but let’s be honest, nine out of ten are Big Pilots. What’s your main attraction to this watch model?
Lewis Hamilton – I’ve always been a huge fan of the Big Pilots. I love the chassis and the width is perfect. It fits really well too. Sometimes to go alongside an outfit, a Portugieser would work, but I really like bigger dials.
Lewis Hamilton wearing the unique “Black Lives Matter” IWC Big Pilot (image by Steve Etherington)
Just off the top of my head, I remember seeing a Black Lives Matter unique piece, a Big Pilot Top Gun Mojave Perpetual Calendar, a white ceramic Big Pilot Lake Tahoe, and your own limited edition Big Pilot Perpetual with a burgundy red dial. Do you have a favourite among the Big Pilots? Which one do you wear most and why?
I would say probably the Big Pilot Mojave Desert. It’s so cool, that’s one of my favourites which I wear a lot. I also love the white one, as it’s the perfect accessory for any outfit.
Lewis Hamilton wearing the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN Lake Tahoe Perpetual Calendar (image by Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team)
You’re also wearing the team watch, a Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. It’s smaller, thinner and lighter on the wrist than the average Big Pilot. Is this a factor that matters to you when choosing a watch?
Yeah, the size and weight of a watch is definitely a factor for me, depending on the situation. It’s all about finding the right balance between style and practicality. This one sits perfectly on my wrist and is super comfortable, so great to wear around the paddock.
Lewis Hamilton with no fewer than three IWC watches on his wrists… (image by Anadolu Agency)
For the past years, IWC has used the Pilot’s Watch collection not just for airborne pilots but also for pilots on the race track. And longer ago, it was the Ingenieur line. Is there any other collection in the IWC line-up that you think would go well with racing sports?
I’d like to think the Big Pilot, so the Pilot collection! I’ve always loved the association with Top Gun. The first time I had one of these was when I first joined the team back in 2013, I had seen the Top Gun movie, and I’m a massive fan. I’ve always wanted to fly a fighter jet, and I think what we do is as close to a fighter jet as possible, so… I would love a military green version of this. I wouldn’t wear this [the BP Perpetual Top Gun Lake Tahoe in white ceramic] to a gala or anything, then I have to take it to another level, like probably a Portugieser.
The new Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Lewis Hamilton
Now you mention the Portugieser, you have a new IWC Limited Edition! A Portugieser with a retrograde date indication, a chronograph and a tourbillon. And all that with a teal-coloured blue dial. How did this one come to life? Who contacted whom, and who started talking first about a limited edition for/with you?
Well, I suggested doing another Limited Edition watch after the success of the first one [BP Burgundy QP] in a car on the way back from Hockenheim to the airport. At the time, I was asking, can we do this or that, or change the chassis underneath, and they said it takes a year of development to make this happen, so maybe we can plan it for the future. I wanted to go beyond simply changing the colour of the dial, I actually wanted to build a brand-new watch. Every time I feel like we’re stepping up, we have stepped up in our process, how we have engaged with each other, and this time I really wanted to push the boundaries further. This was my favourite watch, at the top of the line that they have, and I wanted to do something super, super limited. We all joined a Zoom call in Monza to come up with ideas!
Anything else you’re planning, Lewis? Maybe a tourbillon in the Big Pilot?
Adding a tourbillon to the Big Pilot would be nice, but creating a new kind of watch would also be cool to do.
New materials, maybe something connected with space… I would love to do something like that, but these things take time.
Are you wearing a watch every day?
Pretty much, yeah. I generally feel quite naked when I don’t wear a watch. Today I’ve gone for this one [white ceramic BP QP].
How do you like collaborating with IWC Schaffhausen?
It’s actually quite surreal, going from the first plastic Mickey Mouse watch that I had from Disney Land when I was six to one I saved up for in high school to match my blazer… to now working with IWC, even creating my own watches, it’s so cool and very surreal.
So you liked watches from a young age already?
I was heavily into Hip Hop, always watching music videos, and these guys had sick watches. And I was always looking in these magazines, and they always had these incredible watches which I wanted to get! I have a fairly decent collection now, and I’m continuing to collect and explore what is out there.
Do you watch Instagram to keep up to date with new watches?
Yes, if you look at my Instagram page, aside from F1, it’s probably dogs, watches, fashion, and also nature. Even when I see and buy new watches, I still have all the old ones. I still own that first one, although I don’t know about the Mickey Mouse watch is… I mean, maybe it’s at my parents somewhere in a drawer? I hope it is!