Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton has had a very good year. In November, the dashing Brit cinched his second World Championship. And in December, he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year, where he turned up on the red carpet with his English Bulldog Roscoe and his sporty IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Racer.
Hamilton, who is a brand ambassador for IWC, is best known for sporting a Big Pilot (he and Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg wear gloves embroidered with a Big Pilot on the wrist). Choosing an Ingenieur to wear to the awards was a nod to the team’s engineers and technicians who work hard to make sure each race runs like clockwork.
IWC first introduced the Ingenieur in 1955, the line was conceived to combat magnetic fields encountered by engineers (magnetic fields can make a timepiece run fast) on the job. This family of watches has always put an emphasis on using novel case materials to ensure accuracy. The Ingeniuers were also well known for their style—the legendary Gérald Genta designed the iconic cushion case in 1976. In 2013, IWC collaborated with Mercedes AMG Petronas to retool the collection. The idea was to utilize technical materials from the world of Formula 1 to make the watches more vigorous and functional.
Formula 1 cars look sexy, but race fans know that it’s what’s under the hood that really matters. The Racer is powered by the IWC in-house automatic fly back chronograph caliber 89361. Recorded hours and minutes are shown on a totalizer sub dial at 12 o’clock and, with the help of the tachymeter scale engraved on the bezel, it’s possible to read off the average speed achieved over a measured distance. The fly back function allows the wearer to stop, reset and start a new measurement instantly.
On the outside, Chronograph Racer has kept the clean lines of Genta’s Ingenieur case, but Hamilton’s model features a slate grey dial with black, stacked registers at 12 and 6, silver hands, heavily lumed, applied indices and red timing accents on the sweep seconds hand, making it super simple to read. It’s also a big watch at 45.5mm. And staying true to its roots as a practical watch, the strap is a combination of textile and durable rubber (a stainless steel bracelet is also available).
Overall, this bold watch is easy to read and spot from a distance. But the elegant lines and uncluttered landscape of the dial makes it perfect for a champion like Hamilton who doesn’t need to demand attention.