Rolex & Hungaroring 2021
Sir Jackie Stewart

20 minutes read

On the occasion of the 2021 Formula 1® Hungarian Grand Prix, guests of Rolex had the special opportunity to personally meet Sir Jackie Stewart, three-time Formula 1® World Champion and Rolex Testimonee since 1968 – one of Rolex’s most enduring ties to motor sport, personified. Sir Jackie, one of the most celebrated Formula 1® drivers of all time, is not only a three-time FIA Formula 1® Drivers’ World Champion (1969, 1971 and 1973) but also the winner of 27 out of 99 Grand Prix™ races. Furthermore, he is widely recognized for his pioneering commitment to driver safety in Formula 1®, which has had a lasting impact on motor sport.

Rolex & Hungaroring 2021

The Petite Genève Petrović Rolex team asked Sir Jackie about the ties between Rolex and Formula 1®, about his extensive experience with the brand and his thoughts on Hungary’s prime race track, the Hungaroring.

Petite Genève Petrović: Sir Jackie, a very warm welcome to Hungary and a special thank you for spending time with us. You are in a most special position in that you have an outstanding depth of experience both in the world of motor sport, especially Formula 1®, and in your role as a Rolex Testimonee of 53 years. In your view, what are some of the surprising ways in which Rolex and Formula 1® align?

Sir Jackie Stewart: “Well, Rolex is a company that’s been associated with motor sport since the 1930s when Sir Malcolm Campbell was running his Bluebird on the salt flats of Daytona Beach while wearing his Rolex watch – just like the man who first conquered Everest.

Since then, Rolex has partnered with Daytona International Speedway® in the United States, with the greatest endurance races, as well as, Formula 1®, the pinnacle of motor sport.

I’ve been with the company for 53 years now, which is unusual in the world of associations between major companies and individuals. It’s a good story, because it is a magnificent company – with certainly the most impressive world headquarters of any multinational company out there.

Sir Jackie Stewart

Having witnessed Rolex’s ability to raise the game meant to me that Rolex and Formula 1® coming together would make for the perfect marriage. Formula 1® is the highest level of motor sport in the world: No matter what happens in Indianapolis or even at Daytona, Formula 1® is technologically at the highest level and likewise I truly believe that Rolex is exactly like that. Of course, there are competitors, but Rolex is the champion in the same sense how there has never been another [Edmund] Hillary, another Arnold Pamer – a great gentleman of sports –, and more recently Tiger Woods as a Rolex Testimonee. And obviously I am very proud that I have lasted this long!” — Sir Jackie Stewart said laughingly.

“It’s a great company. When one comes to Le Mans, Daytona, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Goodwood Revival, or a Formula 1® Grand Prix™ there always is a good movement and it’s in the Rolex suite that one usually finds the crème de la crème.”

Petite Genève Petrović: One topic that is very important to us watch collectors and enthusiasts is how watch design and watch wearing preferences develop over time. In your experience, having this shared past with Rolex, how has Rolex evolved?

Sir Jackie Stewart: “It’s that Rolex watches have become more polished, more technologically appealing. First, to interrupt that for a moment, I got a Rolex before I ever got a role at Rolex. I was at Indianapolis and I did quite well at qualifying and nearly won the race and so the [racing team’s] owner said “Oh, Jackie, that was fantastic and I wish to give you a surprise.” He gave me a timepiece just like this one — Sir Jackie points at his yellow gold Day-Date 36 he is wearing —, a top-of-the-line model. And that was in 1966.

Rolex & Hungaroring 2021

So I had a Rolex certainly before I became more deeply involved. In 1966, not only had I bought one, but in the same year in Monaco I was in pole position for which I received a Daytona – right at the beginning of the Daytona watch collection – and I still have that watch. And I will, I think, wear a Daytona for tomorrow’s race here at the Hungaroring. Getting to the point you just remarked on, that 1966 Daytona is greatly different to today’s Daytona. They are exactly the same to look at, but the most modern version is more robust looking and more robust feeling. You know when you put a watch on you can feel it when it’s good or bad or ugly. It’s different with today’s Daytona because Rolex has not stood still, which is what I like so much about the company.

The alignment with Formula 1® is very similar with what Rolex does because Formula 1® never stops to improve performance and Rolex never stops in the same way. I have so many different pieces: I own a King Midas, which I got when winning my first championship and André Heiniger was the CEO of the company. I hardly ever wear that piece, but there aren’t that many out there in the world. It’s so heavy, to get it on and to get it off, you have to be Houdini. But, a very special watch nonetheless.”

Petite Genève Petrović: One of the expanding dimensions of Rolex is the configurability of the watches. When visiting the website or a Rolex boutique such as that of Petite Genève Petrović, one can often modify the style of dial, bezel and bracelet, or the choice of materials used for the exterior of their next timepiece.

Rolex & Hungaroring 2021

Sir Jackie Stewart: “It’s just a touch that makes a difference. One often finds limitations elsewhere with watches. The great thing about Rolex is: The mountaineers have it, the deep sea divers have it, the racing drivers have it. It is so versatile with so many different models and to do that has taken a huge amount of research and development and a huge amount of finding the best quality people. And that’s the great alliance, again, with Formula 1®.

There is better problem-solving in Formula 1® than probably any other business in the world and Rolex are in a similarly special position in that they are continuously improving their product in-house. And that is possible because Rolex produces all the various important components and that cannot be said for most of the rest of the watch industry. Rolex is a very proud company and the people are there for the long run, for the long term.”

Petite Genève Petrović: From their respective beginnings, a perpetual quest for excellence defines both Rolex and Formula 1® and they both have entered a new millennium when it comes to implementing their latest developments.

Sir Jackie Stewart: “It’s constantly changing, which is one of the great things. In Formula 1®, you only need to blink an eye and there is something new done. Even for this race, here in Hungary, I bet you there is some fancy stuff coming in this morning from Friday’s experience and it may be on the car tomorrow or it may not be. Because on the simulator it works – and we are talking about little bits which they are not even sure will work, but they do it anyway. But if it gains sometimes just thousandths of a second, it is worth it. So, the precision Formula 1® has is very similar to the precision that has to take place for us to have the watches we have.

I have a Rolex watch that was given to me by one of the people I used to drive for. It was in 1996 or so when he gave it to me and he had it since he was 11 years of age, right at the beginning of Rolex. It is a very small watch on a leather strap. And today, following a service, although it has to be wound up a lot, it’s ticking away nicely. I love the fact that I have that watch and because it was given to me, I will never let it go.”

Vintage watches from the first half of the 20th century tend to have a power reserve that is short by today’s standards. Through tireless development of materials, movement design and engineering solutions, today’s Rolex watches have a power reserve between 55 and approximately 70 hours and are rewound by the Perpetual self-winding system.

Rolex & Hungaroring 2021

Petite Genève Petrović: One final question, if we may, about Hungary and the Hungarian Grand Prix™. The first Hungarian Grand Prix™ was held in 1986 and you did race in Hungary – not as a racing driver, but with your own racing team, Stewart Grand Prix. Could you please share with our Rolex and Formula 1® fans your thoughts about the Hungarian Grand Prix™?

Sir Jackie Stewart: It is a good race track and excellent spectator track. Good, fast and slow corners and andulations. People come from all over to be here, even though it’s not in the motor racing world’s circle, if you will. It is quite a way out, but people come here for the beautiful scenery, the wonderful hotels – and we and the drivers certainly wish we could experience more of it during these busy weekends. It is considered to be amongst the racing fraternity and so it is just so great to come here.

Petite Genève Petrović: Sir Jackie, thank you very much for your time and for sharing your thoughts with us today.

We would be delighted to show you the motor sport inspired Daytona collection in our Petite Genève Petrović Rolex Boutiques in Budapest, Belgrade and Porto Montenegro.


Rolex watches are crafted from the finest raw materials and assembled with scrupulous attention to detail.


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Rolex & Hungaroring 2021
Sir Jackie Stewart

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