Driven by a passion for performance and precision, Rolex continues its commitment to motorsport

Why is there so much crossover between cars and watches? It’s simple, really. Both hobbies are mechanically driven and focus on inanimate objects that we instil with a spirit. We form bonds with our cars and our watches. You’ll likely remember your first watch, and you might look back on your first car through the same rose-tinted glasses—even if it was a beaten-up hatchback in desperate need of a paint job.

Few watchmakers appreciate this deep-rooted connection in the same way Rolex does. The brand has a relationship with motor racing reaching back to the 1930s, and it continues to partner with the world’s leading motor racing championship, Formula One, as well as other iconic events including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. From Sir Malcolm Campbell, who was also known as the King of Speed in the 1930s, to Formula One legend Sir Jackie Stewart and fellow champions Tom Kristensen and Mark Webber, numerous heroes of the racetrack have enjoyed working relationships with Rolex as part of the watchmaker’s core philosophy: the pursuit of perpetual excellence.

The word “perpetual” holds a special place in the Rolex vocabulary. For nearly a century, it’s been inscribed on every Oyster watch built at the company’s factory in Switzerland. The “perpetual” philosophy has come to reinforce the watchmaker’s conservation efforts, as well as its wider commitment to developing forward-thinking innovations.

See also: Rolex Continues as the Official Timepiece for the Legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans

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Photo 1 of 4 Former racing driver Tom Kristensen (Photo: Sébastien Agnetti)
Photo 2 of 4 Racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart (Photo: Rhomas Laisné)
Photo 3 of 4 Former F1 driver Mark Webber (Photo: Rhomas Laisné)
Photo 4 of 4 The Alpine F1 team during a pit stop (Photo: James Moy)

Starting in the 1930s, brand founder Hans Wilsdorf supported intrepid explorers, mountaineers and scientists, and their quests to the toughest places on Earth. The Perpetual Planet initiative has become a way for Rolex to continue Wilsdorf’s legacy and when Campbell chose to wear a Rolex in his mission to break the world land speed record, an accomplishment the British racer achieved on nine occasions, it paved the way for the watchmaker to support and celebrate human achievement.

Stewart, who won three FIA Formula One Drivers’ World Championships, says: “Sir Malcolm Campbell was a great hero. He was a remarkable testimonee in the quietest and most dignified way—it’s wonderful for me to be in the same company. I’ve now been with Rolex for 53 years and it continues to be an enormous privilege.”

In 2016, Stewart founded Race Against Dementia— a global charity that’s committed to funding breakthrough research into dementia—after his wife, Lady Helen, was diagnosed with the illness. “I think it’s tremendously important to give back to society, especially when one has the opportunity to be able to do so,” he says. His work is supported by Rolex, which has long fostered a culture that encourages the transfer of skills and knowledge from one generation to the next.

See also: 5 Iconic Car Racing Movies to Watch

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Photo 1 of 3 British motorist Sir Malcolm Campbell
Photo 2 of 3 A 1935 telegram from Campbell to Rolex
Photo 3 of 3 Behind-the-scenes at 24 Hours of Le Mans (Photo: Jean-François Galeron)

Multiple Formula One-winning driver Mark Webber developed a friendship with Stewart from the start of his career. “The advice I got from legends such as Sir Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda and Alain Prost is still relevant today,” he says. “Being able to now impart some of my knowledge is something I enjoy; it is special to be involved in the careers of rising talents and share that wisdom with them.”

Kristensen also recognises the importance of receiving the encouragement and mentorship of racing greats during his career, saying: “To be successful you need lots of motivation—the ability to not give up was key.”

For generations, Rolex and motorsport have continued to break boundaries in their respective industries, and these wins go on to impact everyday lives around the world. There’s an emotional aspect to enjoying watches and cars, making crossover appreciation easy. And with their combined pursuit of excellence, there’s no doubting that this partnership continues to be the perfect fit.

See also: Meet Rolex's Fiercest Protectors of the Seven Seas

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