Rolex to watch over F1

Luxury Swiss watch brand Rolex has signed a deal with Formula One chiefs to become the motor racing tournament’s official timekeeper from next year.

F1 sponsorship deal part of luxury watchmaker’s plans to ramp up ties to global sports.

The brand says the agreement is the first phase of a strategic shift to focus its sponsorship activities on events chosen for their “strong symbolic value and global resonance”. The value of the deal have not been disclosed.

Rolex will give the time in different locations during each grand prix. The brand’s logo will also be positioned around race circuits.

The watchmaker has built strong ties to motor sport over the years and it is hoped the deal will appeal to younger fans of the event. Former Formula One champion Sir Jackie Stewart has been a Rolex brand ambassador for 40 years and the company has also had previous deals with American race the Daytona International Speedway.

Bernie Eccleston, chief executive of Formula One, says the brand’s “prestige and “long-standing commitment” to motor sport give it “true credibility”.

Rolex also has a prominent presence in a number of major sporting arenas such as the Wimbledon tennis tournament and The Open golf series.

The brand replaces rival watchmaker Hublot, which was appointed official watchmaker in 2010. It famously ran an ad featuring a picture of Ecclestone sporting a black-eye after he had his watch stolen in 2010.

South Korean electronics brand LG have had their branding appear on timekeeping systems in recent seasons.

The deal is the latest commercial announcement to come from the sport, that has seen both Coca-Cola and Infiniti pen long-term deals with teams to exploit the reach of the sport.