F1 GOAT Lewis Hamilton Teams With IWC For Winning Watch Collab
The future Ferrari racer’s latest limited-edition chronograph marks his most exclusive—and expensive—IWC collab yet.
The most decorated driver on the Formula One grid is also the most fashionable. We are of course talking about Lewis Hamilton, whose unprecedented success at the pinnacle of motorsport is easily quantified in two stats: He and fellow F1 legend Michael Schumacher jointly hold the record for the most World Drivers’ Championship titles (seven), and the Hamilton solely holds the record for the most Grand Prix wins (103).
The “most fashionable” claim is not as easily quantified, but it’s still easily found in demonstrative evidence. On any given race weekend, photographers in the paddock clamor to capture images of Hamilton’s wildly varied designer garb, from a sequined boilersuit by Rick Owens to the fiery Diesel graphic T-shirt he donned for the 2023 US Grand Prix.
Fashion isn’t just an interest of Hamilton’s, it’s “an outlet” through which expresses himself, as he told reporters at a press conference before 2021’s Turkish Grand Prix.
The Mercedes-AMG driver, who recently announced that he’ll be leaving his longtime team after the 2024 season for Scuderia Ferrari, has been the face of a very pink campaign for Italian fashion house Valentino, launched his own collections with Tommy Hilfiger, and, most recently, helped design a complex and ultra-exclusive timepiece with storied Swiss watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen: the Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Lewis Hamilton.
“Lewis actively engages in the design process,” Christian Knoop, IWC’s Chief Design Officer, tells us. “It is an honor for us as creators to see someone who is not just choosing something from the options we put in front of him, but someone who really gets involved in the creative process.”
This third horological collaboration between Hamilton and IWC also marked a decade of partnership between the watch brand and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Team, which Hamilton coincidentally had also joined 10 years prior at the time of the Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Lewis Hamilton’s reveal in 2023.
IWC’s collaborative spirit with its F1 partner goes straight to the top—the brand recently invited Mercedes Team Principal “Toto” Wolff to visit the IWC Manufakturzentrum and headquarters in Schaffhausen, where all components-making, movement assembly and case-making sustainably occur in-house.
“There are many parallels between the world of F1 and luxury watchmaking; engineering excellence, technical innovation, and attention to detail among others,” Wolff remarked during his visit. “In IWC Schaffhausen, we have a partner that not only shares these qualities but also has a passion for sustainability, a desire to deliver a positive societal impact, and provide opportunities for future generations.”
Those parallels are also present to varying degrees in all three of Hamilton’s IWC designs. The titanium-cased Ingenieur Chronograph Edition Lewis Hamilton, launched in 2014, had a piece of carbon fiber from that year’s Mercedes-AMG F1 car embedded in the caseback, while 2019’s Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition Lewis Hamilton featured extraordinary attention to sartorial-inspired detail in its combo of gold-plated hands, a black ceramic case and a Bordeaux-red dial.
The most recent IWC-Hamilton collab deals in exclusivity, a trait that wasn’t mentioned by Wolff but is very much represented by luxury watchmaking and F1, with its just 20-driver field. Limited to 44 examples (in honor of its namesake’s race number) priced at an $169,000 each, the Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Lewis Hamilton is the lowest-volume and most expensive of the champ’s three IWC watches by a longshot.
“[Hamilton] particularly looked at the Portugieser tourbillon chronograph, which is renowned for its remarkable movements,” Knopp added. “We were thrilled as his choice perfectly matches IWC’s chronograph-focused tradition with intricate complications.”
Power comes from IWC’s 89900 caliber, a 56-piece, 68-hour automatic movement combining a flyback chronograph and a retrograde date indicator with a tourbillon. For Hamilton, IWC gold-plated its first movement in 30 years, adding extra visual intrigue to the now-aureate bridges and other innards seen through the sapphire caseback.
Of course, F1 photographers and fans are most likely to see the watch face-up on Hamilton’s wrist. The flying hacking minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock both catches the eye and improves accuracy by reducing the influence of gravity on the oscillating movement. The teal dial is adorned with 12 sparkling diamonds, as well as Hamilton’s panther eye logo below IWC Schaffhausen’s own at 3 o’clock. Everything is contained in a 43.5mm platinum case, which is secured to the wrist via a teal textile strap.
Keep your eyes peeled, as Sir Lewis will almost certainly wear this one on the grid in his last F1 season with Mercedes.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2024 issue of Maxim magazine.