Rolex’s commitment to motor sport dates back to the 1930s when “the king of speed’, Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the World Land Speed record with a Rolex on his wrist; a pioneering moment on the long, flat and firm Daytona Beach which would establish motor sport as an integral part of Rolex’s culture. Since then, the brand’s presence in the world of motor racing has grown steadily through partnerships with iconic events.
In 1992, Rolex formalised its relationship with Daytona as Title Sponsor of the Rolex 24 At Daytona and subsequently the watchmaker was named Official Partner and Official Timepiece of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2013, Rolex’s affinity with speed deepened further when the brand became a Global Partner and Official Timepiece of Formula 1.
Rolex continues to support motor sport globally and this year, will mark the 50th anniversary of Sir Jackie Stewart joining the Rolex family of Testimonees in the spring of 1968. Sir Jackie Stewart is one of history’s most celebrated racing drivers, having won three FIA Formula One Drivers’ World Championships and competed at the forefront of motor sport globally throughout the 1960s and ’70s. The Scottish icon is renowned for his commitment to the sport, demonstrated by his skill behind the wheel and his pioneering action for improving the sport out of the cockpit.
Sir Jackie Stewart, Rolex Testimonee, attends Goodwood Revival’s Ecurie Ecosse Tribute Parade, 2017. Image: Rolex.
For 50 years, Rolex and Sir Jackie Stewart have witnessed many significant moments. Speaking of this important milestone, Sir Jackie Stewart says: “I am honoured to have been with Rolex for 50 years, it’s a rare commitment and almost unheard of in sport – it has been a fantastic journey together. I am still as impressed and in awe of the brand today as I was back then. One of my most strived for values is attention to detail because if you look after the little things, the big things look after themselves, and I definitely learnt that from this magnificent sport and from this prestigious watch brand – the Rolex and motor sport partnership is the perfect marriage.”
Born and raised in Scotland, Sir Jackie Stewart struggled to read and write from an early age due to undiagnosed dyslexia, leaving him feeling isolated from his peers. Victory at a clay pigeon shooting competition on New Year’s Day in 1953 however, marked a watershed moment for the teenager, when he discovered a talent worth pursuing. Stewart’s early success in this field led to him representing Scotland and Great Britain on the European stage; his focus and attention to detail gave the talented Scotsman the foundation he needed to be successful in the world of motor sport. To this day he remains the only person to have won British Grands Prix at shooting and Formula 1.
Influenced by Jimmy Stewart, his elder brother, Sir Jackie Stewart participated in his first-ever competitive sports car race near Troon, in Scotland in 1961; after finishing an impressive second, he started to develop a reputation behind the wheel of a race car. For a while, Stewart split his time between working at his father’s garage as a qualified mechanic and racing on British tracks, until 1963, when he signed his first professional contract with the Scottish team, Ecurie Ecosse. In 1964, he raced in Formula 3 for Ken Tyrrell, taking the highest accolade with victory at the Formula 3 Grand Prix de Monaco. Stewart’s hero, and multiple FIA Formula One Drivers’ World Champion, Juan Manuel Fangio was the first to congratulate him, which remains one of Stewart’s most cherished memories.
Jackie Stewart, Warwick Banks and Bill Bradley at the French Grand Prix Formula 3, June 28, 1964. Image: Getty
Stewart quickly drew attention from the leading teams on the Formula 1 grid and for the 1965 season he signed with BRM, graduating to the pinnacle of motor sport with 1962 FIA Formula One Drivers’ World Champion Graham Hill as his teammate. Learning from the very best drivers in the world, Stewart claimed his maiden win at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the beating heartland of Italian motor sport. Standing on the podium, he was greeted by a passionate crowd and the overwhelming chants of “Il Grande Jackie. Il Grande Jackie”, a chorus that is still recited to this day.
Stewart enjoying his first Formula 1 Grand Prix win in Monza at the 1965 Italian Grand Prix. Image: Bernard Cahier/Getty Images.
Four years later, the Formula 1 Grande Premio D’Italia was also the stage for Sir Jackie Stewart’s first-ever FIA Formula One World Championship win in 1969. The full impact of that moment took time to sink in but the Scottish driver would go on to take his role and responsibility as spokesperson for the sport very seriously.
Stewart celebrates his victory at the Grand Prix of Italy, Autodromo Nazionale Monza, September 7, 1969. Image: Getty.
Stewart’s success continued: when he retired in 1973 he had won 27 Grands Prix from 99 starts and had been crowned FIA Formula One Drivers’ World Champion twice more, in 1971 and 1973.
His legacy was magnified by his commitment to improving motor sport safety after witnessing the fatal accidents of close friends and colleagues, famous names such as Jim Clark and Bruce McLaren. As a vocal Chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, Stewart almost single-handedly revolutionised motor sport safety and was one of the pioneers of the regulations that dictate the sport today. After his racing career, Stewart would go on to further prove his credentials by running his own race-winning Formula 1 team, Stewart Grand Prix, in the 1990s.
Reflecting on his career to date Stewart says: “I am incredibly proud of everything I have achieved over the years, inside and outside the car, and Rolex has been a key part of this unbelievable adventure – every watch tells its own story. I purchased my first Rolex having qualified well at the Indianapolis 500, before I became a Rolex Testimonee.
“It was a Rolex Day-Date 18 carat gold with President bracelet and it instantly established my love of and respect for Rolex. The watch that I particularly treasure is my new Daytona. It was presented to me in 2016 by Rolex at the Grand Prix de Monaco to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my first win around the hallowed streets of the principality.
“There is a special engraving on the back of the watch, which of course makes it all the more important to me. Rolex has become the most desired watch in the world – the esteem, the prestige, the pride of ownership that Rolex commands is unmatched.”
Sir Jackie Stewart attends Goodwood Revival. Images: Rolex
Rolex’s long-standing partnership with Sir Jackie Stewart forms an important part of the brand’s rich history in motor sport and broad palette of sponsorship activities. Wearing his distinctive Royal Stewart tartans, Sir Jackie continues to attend races globally and his ongoing loyalty to motor sport makes him an ultimate Rolex Testimonee – embodying the dedication, excellence, precision and innovation that also underpins Rolex watchmaking.