The circuit breakers: Watchspotting at the 2022 Australian Grand PrixFergus Nash
Last week’s Australian Grand Prix set a new record for the highest attended weekend sporting event ever staged in Melbourne. That’s no mean feat in a sports-mad city that also hosts the Australian Open, the Melbourne Cup and is home to the MCG. Clearly, motorsports have enjoyed a serious injection of interest thanks to F1’s social media takeover and series like Drive to Survive. Throw in the fact that Melbourne endured the longest hard lockdown in the world last year, and it explains why so many people were keen to come out for a weekend of speed and drama. Of course, while I was there I couldn’t stop my eye from wandering from the track to people’s wrists. We’ve previously explored the various teams and their watch sponsors, so here are the top five watches that caught my eye amongst the general admission crowds at Albert Park.
TAG Heuer Formula 1
It makes sense that fans of the Formula 1 model would intersect with fans of the F1 races. But I was shocked at how many versions of the TAG Heuer F1 that I saw. From the brightly coloured Swatch rivals of the late 1980s, through the blocky watches of the 2000s, to the modern luxury pieces, the pride of wearing a Formula 1 on your wrist has just as much significance as wearing your favourite team’s cap or shirt.
We’ve given a lot of love to Unimatic before. Their minimalistic approach and customisable watches are a fantastic option to fill out your collection with something really expressive, so catching a glimpse of the U1-DZ was a pretty fun discovery in the wild. This limited edition uses the U1 architecture inspired by Italian military dive watches and has a beautiful olive dial, bezel, and NATO strap.
Panthère de Cartier
While there may not be as many fancy hats, there is definitely a level of glitz and glamour associated with the Grand Prix that’s similar to the Melbourne Cup horse race. The Panthère de Cartier is one of my favourite underrated gems of the brand, achieving a very similar square-oriented style as the Santos Dumont for smaller wrists. The one I saw was the 27mm version on a silky smooth steel bracelet, although the two-tone model definitely makes it onto my wishlist.
Seiko’s approach to the “field watch” style is undeniably handsome, with a 40mm diameter and clear, legible numerals that prove form and function can coexist in harmony. The simple black dial with white and grey details makes this watch able to pair with any outfit, and the 4R36 calibre is as solid a movement as you could hope for in a daily wearer for less than $500.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch
It’s difficult to go anywhere without seeing at least one Speedmaster in public, but the sheer quantity of Moonwatches among the crowds was staggering. With the cultural significance behind the Moonwatch and its lunar claim to fame, it’s easy to forget that the Speedmaster was originally a racing chronograph, and motoring enthusiasts seem inherently drawn to that high-octane spirit. It is worth noting that I didn’t spot any MoonSwatches, showing that Omega fans’ fears of brand dilution are so far yet to be validated.