Need for speed

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 June, 2011, 12:00am


Formula One is a bit like Marmite or the musical output of Phil Collins. You either like it, a lot, or you simply detest it. This author, though he lacks the ability to drive, legally speaking, is unashamedly an F1 fanboy and often watches races while listening to Collins' seminal 1980s album No Jacket Required and munching down toast spread with the divisive yeast extract. To the enlightened among us, there is nothing more exhilarating than watching high-performance racing cars zip around at speeds of almost 360km/h in some of the world's most exotic locations (although perhaps not on Central's Lung Wo Road, as was the case last weekend). It's got the lot; drama, speed, glamour and an element of danger.

The key ingredients of F1 are a sponsor's dream and luxury watchmakers have been there almost from the beginning, with Tag Heuer being the brand most indelibly linked with the sport. The label, which has a racing pedigree that takes in Le Mans and Steve McQueen, has been a key figure in F1 for almost 30 years with its sponsorship and close links with the McLaren F1 team. The limited-edition, or re-edition, Tag Heuer Silverstone (right) perfectly captures the brands racing heritage with its vintage styling yet has all the best of modern watchmaking under the hood, so to speak. The design is near identical to the Heuer Silverstone launched in 1974 (before the 'Tag' was added to the name), retaining the sporty speedometer-inspired face and chronograph feature. The Tag Heuer Silverstone comes in blue and brown, both with a matching alligator leather strap that works well with the soft square polished stainless-steel case and buttons. There is a date function at the six o'clock position and 30-minute and 60-minute counters at the nine o'clock and three o'clock positions, respectively. The Tag Heuer Silverstone is limited to 1860 pieces, a nod to the company's founding year, and costs HK$51,000.

Hublot seems to be everywhere these days, sponsoring everything from football to polo, yet F1 proved to be the biggest coup of all. Hublot became the official F1 timekeeper last year and to celebrate the partnership the watchmaker released the Hublot F1 King Power Ceramic (above). This is a beast of a watch, with a large 48mm case forged in black ceramic and a black carbon-fibre bezel complete with a rugged strap of rubber and Nomex, the fireproof material found on racing drivers' overalls. This watch is all about the decidedly unsubtle racing references, from the large F1 logo on the matt-finish dial to the drilled bezel which was inspired by a brake disc. Limited to 500 pieces, the Hublot F1 King Power Ceramic retails for about HK$180,000.

Racing is all about winning and Casio has managed to do just that with its sponsorship of current drivers and constructor champions Red Bull Racing. Casio's Edifice line of metal watches has been proudly adorning the wrists of German wunderkind Sebastian Vettel as he drives his way to a second straight championship this year. The Casio Edifice EQW-A1000DB (right) is the latest addition to the range and is as feature packed as a Red Bull F1 car. A chronograph watch, it features radio-transmitter technology, meaning the time is updated up to six times a day for supreme accuracy. Priced at an eminently reasonable HK$3,500, the Casio Edifice EQW-A1000DB also features a 'Smart Access System', which means that the hour, minute and second hands have individual motors allowing for smoother operation.