Mercedes-AMG’s star driver talks Biggie, bling, and the possibility of designing a special edition IWC timepiece…
Watch Journal: Lewis! Thanks for taking the time to chat. How ya feeling?
Lewis Hamilton: Tired, dude. It’s been nonstop since the [Japanese Grand Prix, on October 7.] I’ve just been going. I’ve not had a night off, really.
WJ: Crazy. So, what have you got on your wrist right now?
LH: It’s a limited, limited edition of the Big Pilot Top Gun Edition.
WJ: Is that your typical style?
LH: I like the big, heavier watches, so yeah. The chunkier watches I quite like. And being black and red, this one goes with everything as well.
WJ: Like those shoes…
LH: Yeah! I just got these. They’re my favorite Pumas now. It’s a new addition they’ve just come out with. They’ve just gone into the NBA, you know? So this [the Clyde Court Disrupt Red Blast] is the new NBA look that they’re now working on. I’m so freaking happy with them.
WJ: They certainly fit the vibe. Of everybody on the current Formula 1 grid, you’ve probably got the most fashion sense.
LH: Well, I don’t know about that. [laughs] Everyone has a different look. But I’ve definitely got my own style, I’m very much involved in the fashion world.
WJ: When did you start paying attention to clothes, how people were dressing and all that?
LH: I think I was always watching. I was heavily into hip-hop as a kid. So I was always watching videos, Diddy and Biggie, and all those guys, how they dressed. I always wished I could dress like them back then, but I never had the money. So I didn’t really start paying full attention to fashion until my late teens. Even then, all the money went into racing. Then I went to Formula 1 [in 2007, at 22 years old], and suddenly I was being pictured all the time. I saw it, and was I was like, ‘Jeez, I really need to get my act together.’ I needed to figure out how I was going to dress, how I was going to look, to present myself. So I just started attending fashion shows. I wanted to see what was out there. It’s interesting, because at fashion shows, you really see people from all walks of life. Everyone’s completely different. It’s all an interpretation of dress. From there, I just started figuring out how to do it. And now I get to design my own clothes with Tommy Hilfiger. And get credit!
WJ: Congratulations on that, by the way.
LH: Thank you!
WJ: How’d that whole deal come about? Did you two meet in the same circles, since he’s such a massive car collector?
LH: No actually! I just bumped into him on the street, in New York. Big as the city is, I was leaving a building that he happens to have a place inside, which I didn’t know. Then we kept bumping into each other at fashion events, the Met Gala, stuff like that. He was like, ‘We’ve got to do something together, mate!’ I told him I’d love to, of course. Bridging the gap between Tommy Hilfiger and Mercedes-Benz was the hard part. But it’s been really amazing. The response has been so great.
WJ: Whether you’re in the new Tommy or wearing something else, how do you fit watches into your overall look?
LH: I actually carry with me five different watches. Different faces, different bands. Different colors, of course. I love a lot of rose gold, a lot of silver. I even had my IWC blinged out, because they don’t have diamonds in them. [laughs] I don’t know if you’ve seen that one…
LH: You have? Oh, I like to wear that out with suits. Like, if I’m wearing a suit, I want something that really screws it up. [laughs] My ultimate goal in the relationship with IWC is to one day do a watch.
LH: Oh yeah. Release a range of them, you know. Doesn’t have to be with diamonds, or a different material. Just achieved in my own unique way. It should be the piece you’d put on to really top off your look. Because I really do feel quite naked without my watch on. Not having that weight on my wrist. And I really do love the bling, I love diamonds, I love jewelry. And if I didn’t have this ceramic Big Pilot on, the rest of this [diamond bracelet, ring, and earring] just wouldn’t fit. I wouldn’t wear this all out.
WJ: Have you given any thought to what an IWC Lewis Hamilton Edition might look like?
LH: I’ve thought about it in terms of looking at the current IWC range that they have now, and how I would tweak them. Like, ‘Oh, I’ll change this, I’ll change that.’ Little things. In terms of doing a completely new one, I’ve not really to that point. But if I were to do something? I might do a different shape. I don’t know if that’s a square, maybe an oval. Round is obviously classic. I mean, just look at the [Le Petit Prince Edition Big Pilot], and I love the blue face on that, that shade of blue. But I’d actually want a tourbillon. So every time I win a championship, I’m like, ‘Yeah, is it coming?’ Okay, so I don’t know if it’s coming anytime soon. [laughs] But, hey, you never know. Maybe someday…
(Opening photo: Ashley Sears for IWC)