The 2013 Formula 1 season kicked off this month at the Australian Grand Prix, and while fans were watching Kimi Raikkonen take home a win for Team Lotus, the watch industry had its eyes on the sponsorship race. In December 2012, Rolex announced a major long-term partnership with Formula 1, bumping Hublot from the position of Official Timekeeper and Official Timepiece for the following season.
Although the financial details of the partnership were not published, Forbes has speculated that the deal could be worth as much as $40 million annually. At the time, Rolex SA chief executive officer Gian Riccardo Marini, said; “This is an exciting step for us at Rolex as the fit between Formula One and our brand feels very natural and, like all great partnerships, needs little explanation. In our respective fields, Rolex and Formula One embody the spirit of adventure, superlative engineering and a strong desire to push the limits of technology. Rolex watches are symbolic of the quest for the highest level of performance and reliability that is epitomized by Formula One. Over the last 50 years both Rolex and Formula 1 have grown into world-leading aspirational brands and there will be many fantastic opportunities that we can enjoy together.”
Indeed, the relationship between the two brands has only deepened since, with Rolex becoming the Title Sponsor of the season’s first race, the 2013 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. Bernie Ecclestone, the chief executive officer of Formula 1, said; “This announcement is super news for Rolex, for Melbourne and for Formula One. Given Rolex was only recently announced as our Official Timekeeper, we are delighted they have chosen to become Title Sponsor of the first race and to begin our global partnership with such an impact.”
Despite the sponsorship shakeup, Hublot has remained on as the Official Timekeeper & Official Watch of Scuderia Ferrari.
Mr Gian Riccardo Marini, Chief Executive Officer of Rolex SA ; Mr Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of the Formula One group (from left to right)
Sir Jackie Stewart; Mr Gian Riccardo Marini; Mr Bernie Ecclestone; and Mr Jean-Claude Killy
Premier Ted Baillieu MLA, Premier of Victoria, seen congratulating Australian Rolex representative Patrick Boutellier, General Manager Rolex Australia
Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2012
Pictured above are Sir Jackie Stewart, Rolex Testimonee; Gian Riccardo Marini, Chief Executive Officer of Rolex SA; Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of the Formula One group; and Jean-Claude Killy, Rolex Testimonee and member of the Board of Directors of Rolex SA. Photos courtesy Formula 1.