Leading up to the Singapore F1 race, Sir Jackie Stewart, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg talk watches, motorsport and success.
Rolex has been involved in motor sport since the 1930s. As racing drivers, what does this enduring partnership mean to you?
Mark Webber (MW): I think that clearly innovation and pushing the boundaries unites Rolex with motor sport – they’re both synonymous with world-class products. In motor sport, you can never rest on your laurels – the only easy day was probably yesterday, you never know what is around the corner. When Rolex is designing and developing watches, the company is constantly pushing the boundaries of the products’ capabilities.
Sir Jackie Stewart (SJYS): Beyond that too, Rolex has always associated itself with excellence, it goes back a long way. This is demonstrated by the brand’s association with Sir Malcolm Campbell, who broke the World Land Speed Record on Daytona Beach in the 1930s wearing a Rolex watch. When Edmund Hillary climbed Everest in 1953, he was again wearing a Rolex. And when Mercedes Gleitze, the first ever Rolex Testimonee, crossed the Channel in 1927, she wore a Rolex Oyster
Nico Rosberg (NR): As Sir Jackie says, Rolex has always been associated with extraordinary achievements. I think that Formula 1 is one of the most prestigious sports in the world. It has been in the past, and still is to this day, it has a huge legacy. Those two attributes – prestige and legacy – fit perfectly with Rolex.
SJYS: And Rolex partnered with Daytona and Le Mans long before they formally came in to Formula 1.
MW: Which signifies the endurance component of the Rolex and motor sport partnership really well. I mean, when has a Rolex let you down? To even come close to winning, let alone finishing, a 24-hour race, your car needs to be just as robust and reliable.
“Rolex has always associated itself with excellence, it goes back a long way.”
What does it mean to be a Rolex Testimonee?
SJYS: I’m very proud that my relationship with Rolex started so long ago when I hadn’t even won a World Championship! I will be forever grateful for their foresight and my admiration for the brand continues to grow every single year because of the quality of the people involved and the quality of the product. As the brand continues to support individual excellence, I feel incredibly privileged to still be part of the Rolex family over 50 years later. Rolex’s long-term relationships also include the greatest tennis players and golfers in the history of sport. Only the best sportsmen and women have had partnerships with Rolex and that is because excellence and the quest for perfection is so embedded within Rolex’s culture. It’s an honour for the three of us to be a small part of this.
MW: For me, it means a great deal. When I was younger, growing up in a little-known corner of Australia, the chance for me to see a Rolex, let alone have one, was out of this world. A lot of it also goes back to my relationship with Sir Jackie – he was a very significant part of my career – and he spoke volumes about Rolex and how fantastic a brand they are to work with.
NR: I was honoured to become a Rolex Testimonee last year. It’s a privilege to represent the brand, alongside other international sportsmen and women, like yourselves, who have achieved unbelievable things in their respective fields. Sir Jackie, your legacy in Formula 1 truly speaks for itself – it is testament to you and the brand that your partnership started over 50 years ago.
“When I was younger, growing up in a little-known corner of Australia, the chance for me to see a Rolex, let alone have one, was out of this world. “
How much do you consider your style and your choice of watch? Do you have different watches for different occasions?
SJYS: When you are succeeding at the top level in sport, you mix with lots of different and extraordinary people, and are exposed to such a variety of styles. I always thought that it would be nice to mould into the right occasion; for instance, if I’m dressed in black-tie I feel as though I should be wearing a watch to suit that occasion. It’s almost a fashion statement, in a way; we all wear different things for different times – and a watch, for me, follows the same pattern.
MW: For me, my lifestyle probably comes into consideration a little more. I like the sporty side of the Oysterflex bracelet; I think it’s sensational on the Daytona. The motor sport component of the Daytona is something that is pretty significant to me too. But when I put a watch on, I often don’t take it off for anything– the watch stays on. I might even go a month and have the same watch on; which watch that is will simply depend on my mood. However, to Sir Jackie’s point, if it is a very special occasion, I may well change gears and wear something a little different.
NR: I like the elegance. At the moment, I’m wearing the white-dial Daytona, which was a gift from my wife to mark 10 years of being together. For me, it’s really the most beautiful piece of art that I’m wearing on my wrist, and it is absolute pure elegance. That’s why in Sir Jackie’s words, it’s a subtle and classy fashion statement. I just absolutely love wearing it.
“At the moment, I’m wearing the white-dial Daytona, which was a gift from my wife to mark 10 years of being together. For me, it’s really the most beautiful piece of art that I’m wearing on my wrist, and it is absolute pure elegance.”
You have all accomplished a great deal at the highest level of motor sport, what attributes do you associate with success in this sport?
SJYS: The animal that is a racing driver, is an unusual animal. Certainly, in my day, there were so many people being killed but yet the mentality was to keep going. Racing drivers have an ability – once they get to a certain level and all three of us have been at that level – to exercise mind-management, allowing us to remove emotion. It is a skill that I attribute strongly to my success, one that I learnt and extensively developed throughout my years shooting for Scotland and Great Britain before I became a racing driver.
MW: I think you’ve got to have a tremendous amount of belief in yourself – there’s no question about that. You have to have a certain amount of confidence to get in the car and to do the job we did. As well as a real mix of other attributes such as the ability to tackle the risk component and manage adrenaline. Equally, as Sir Jackie mentioned, composure and mind-management are required to truly reach the highest level. While learning from your mistakes and being prepared to listen to older people – which, when you’re a young racing driver, doesn’t come easily – helps give you vital experience. I’m not a huge fan of believing in sacrifices – because if you really want something enough, then you already have the passion and there’s no real plan B. Plan A is: “We’re going to make this work. I want to get as far as I can and I’m really going to exhaust all of my potential to get the most out of myself.” It’s also crucial to surround yourself with good people – because you’ll never achieve success on your own, especially in our business. You need the best mechanics, the best partners – and that’s how you get the job done.
NR: As you say, dedication is extremely important to achieve success. The engineering aspect of it, for instance – that’s an area where we really need to apply ourselves. Without the engineering side, we can drive as well as we want, but we’re not going to win anything, because we need to be able to adapt the car to our needs at all times. And to work with the engineers, that really requires a certain depth of understanding in that field, and a huge amount of dedication and time.
MW: Interestingly, since I’ve stopped racing, it’s been fascinating to spend a bit more time with other sports people. In our sport, we can’t miss a race. In golf and tennis and lots of other sports, you can miss certain events. I’m the biggest tennis and sports fan there is in the world – I’m not belittling how their sports are – but in motor sport, we can’t miss two or three races because we have a sore back or have the flu. I did not miss a day of work in racing. Not one day of work, in fifteen years. I did not miss a test, I did not miss a PR day, I did not miss one single practice – because I couldn’t. You can’t in motorsport – it is about absolute dedication.
NR: Same for me, I never missed a day. And to be at the top of my game I had to dedicate my whole life to the sport and to winning that next race. My team mate was Lewis Hamilton, who as we know is one of the best drivers of all time, and to beat him, I had to deliver the best possible performance throughout the entire season.
MW: It’s amazing! For us it’s about absolute focus and mind-management.