“New watch alert: Hublot. Or the big face Rollie, I got two of those”. Ah yes, the horological nightmares that keep Jay-Z awake at night. Which $20k timepiece to go with?
Mr Ecclestone may have faced the same conundrum when it came to Formula One’s timing partner. The associations of precision, quality, big price tags and that every second counts make the F1 timing partnership catnip to Switzerland’s watch-making powerhouses. And with the three-year Hublot deal at an end, Rolex swept in.
Hublot’s investment, and therefore branding, were pretty small scale. Some pitlane signage, Paddock Club positioning, and F1 special edition watches. The loudest thing about it was then-CEO Jean-Claude Biver’s booming voice. One assumed Rolex would go with something of similar scale but have you seen the start/finish straight? It’s greener than Wimbledon. The barriers, bridges, just about everything says Rolex on it. The run-offs, which are usually multi-coloured here at Albert Park, have been sprayed green on Rolex’s instruction.
Sir Jackie Stewart, who has been a Rolex ambassador for 45 years, has been a key part of making this all happen, and he reckons it’s the biggest commercial deal in F1 history. Who wouldn’t want ten percent of that?
Quite rightly then, ‘Rollie’ and Sir Jackie deserve a champagne toast and got one on Friday night at Albert Park’s Carousel Café where a handful of largely independent media, Melbourne business moguls, and reps from FOM, Caterham, Force India and Red Bull watched the sun go down from a magnificent lakeside terrace.
The canapés scaled the already mighty benchmark set this week with delicious mini meat pies (in which Australia leads the world), risotto and pea tarts, sweet potato and fig, and some kind of spring roll wrapped in Shredded Wheat that was actually quite tasty. Oh, and the best sliders I’ve found south of the equator.
Hopefully Rolex’s generosity doesn’t end there. Surely we must be able to wangle a paddock discount? I’ll take the Submariner Date Oyster, please, in green and steel. Ta.