WATCHSPOTTING: Netflix documentary Schumacher reveals the F1 superstar’s brand travelsLuke Benedictus
After what many would consider one of the most exciting Formula 1 Grand Prix weekends this year, the schedule presented us with an off weekend perfectly placed to catch our collective breaths. Yet, it seems Netflix wants to keep the momentum going because this week they released their documentary on one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time, Michael Schumacher. It’s a two hour ode to a man who found glory seven times, in one of the most gruelling and mentally exhaustive sports known to man. A must watch for any Formula 1 fan.
But hey, we’re here for the watches and Mr. Schumacher had quite a career when it comes to that as well. From his time as a rookie battling it out with his idols, to the latter years of his career, where he became Mr Ferrari, Michael found himself as an ambassador for three watch companies.
The first brand that hopped on the Schumacher rocket was TAG Heuer. Already linked to one of the greatest drivers of the day, and one of Michael’s rivals, Aryton Senna, the brand saw a spark is this young German driver that couldn’t be ignored. In those early years, you could often find him featured in their “Don’t Crack” advertising and wearing the Tag Heuer S/el, a predecessor to the Link. The watch is an Ani-Digi, two-toned, chronograph that has a unique end link and a bracelet that Senna had a role in designing.
The next stop on his Brand Ambassador tour came after Michael won his first World Championship 1994. Omega courted the driver and began a relationship with him in 1995 that would eventually last 15 years. The most celebrated collection derived from this partnership was the Speedmaster Racing Michael Schumacher. Over their time together, several different references and numerous dials that all celebrated the driver were released. Of them all, my favourite of the series has to be the checkered flag dial, with red and orange accents, reference 3517.30.00.
In 2010, after years of a fruitful relationship with Omega, Michael made a huge decision and became an ambassador for a brand that had been close to his heart; Audemars Piguet. In his time off, he would pass the manufacturers head quarters in La Brassus, Switzerland, wondering what horological marvels were being created behind those closed doors. So of course, when the opportunity presented itself, he jumped at the chance. And from this relationship, several Royal Oak Offshores have been created that bare his name.
As I come to a close in this article, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that since 2013, Michael Schumacher has not been seen in public. In December of that year, he had a skiing accident and has been reported to have suffered a major brain injury. His family has kept him out of the public eye ever since, as he continues to recover from the incident. The Netflix documentary talks about this in the last act ,yet the overall tone remains that of celebrating Michael’s accomplishments behind the wheel. While watching, I also celebrated the impact he has had on horology as a brand ambassador. Limited Editions and eponymous models have become a big thing and in many ways, he was a driving force behind that. And for that, I am thankful because many of us love the idea of owning something our idols had a role in creating.