This year will mark the 50th anniversary of motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart becoming a Rolex ambassador. Their long-standing partnership forms an important part of the brand’s devotion to motor sport and broad range of sponsorship activities. Together they have witnessed many significant moments and continue to strive for perfection.
Sir Jackie Stewart said: “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.”
Sir Jackie Stewart, Rolex and Motor Sport
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 on Daytona Beach, Florida, while wearing the luxury Swiss watch. He achieved this milestone in his famous Blue Bird racing car and helped to establish motor sport as an integral part of the brand’s culture.
Since then, Rolex’s presence in the world of motor racing has grown steadily through partnerships with iconic events and exceptional personalities, founded on a shared quest for ultimate performance and innovation. In 1992, the luxury watchmaker formalised its relationship with Daytona as title sponsor of the Rolex 24 and in 2001, it was named an Official Partner and the Official Timepiece of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2013, they became a Global Partner and the Official Timepiece of Formula 1.
Sir Jackie Stewart – Humble Beginnings
As a child in Scotland, Sir Jackie Stewart struggled to read and write due to undiagnosed dyslexia, leaving him feeling isolated from his peers. However, victory at a clay pigeon shooting competition on New Year’s Day 1953 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; the focus and attention to detail required to excel gave him 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.
Sir Jackie Stewart’s Early Success
Influenced by his elder brother, Sir Jackie Stewart participated in his first competitive sports car race near Troon, Scotland in 1961. After finishing an impressive second, he started to develop a reputation as a racing driver. Until 1963, Stewart split his time between working at his father’s garage and racing on British tracks, before signing his first professional contract with the Scottish team, Ecurie Ecosse. In 1964, he raced in Formula 3 for Ken Tyrrell, winning the 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 his most cherished memories.
Sir Jackie Stewart quickly drew attention from the leading Formula 1® teams and for the 1965 season he signed with BRM. He had reached the pinnacle of motor sport with 1962 FIA Formula One Drivers’ World Champion Graham Hill as his teammate. Learning from the world’s best drivers, Stewart claimed his maiden win at the home of Italian motor sport, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Standing on the podium, the passionate crowd chanted “Il Grande Jackie. Il Grande Jackie”, a chorus that is still heard today.
Sir Jackie Stewart returned to the Formula 1 Grande Premio D’Italia in 1969, winning his first-ever FIA Formula One World Championship. The Scottish driver would go on to take his role as spokesperson for the sport very seriously. Stewart’s winning streak continued. By the time 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.
Sir Jackie Stewart Improving Motor Sport Safety
Sir Jackie Stewart was committed to improving motor sport safety after witnessing the deaths of close friends and colleagues, famous names such as Jim Clark and Bruce McLaren. As Chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, he pioneered the regulations that dictate motor racing today. In the 1990s, he further proved his credentials by running his own successful Formula 1 team, Stewart Grand Prix.
Reflecting on his legacy, Sir Jackie Stewart said: “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.”
Wearing his distinctive Royal Stewart tartans, Sir Jackie continues to attend races globally and his ongoing loyalty to motor sport makes him the ultimate Rolex Testimonee. He embodies the dedication, excellence, precision and innovation that also underpins Rolex watchmaking.