Our interview with F1 legend and TW Steel ambassador David Coulthard

The WatchPaper team with David Coulthard!

The WatchPaper team with David Coulthard!

It is F1 week in Montreal! It’s party time! Our team received an invitation to a TW Steel cocktail event for fans of F1 and the brand, with no other than 13 Grand Prix winner and TW Steel brand ambassador David Coulthard. We were thrilled when he accepted to sit down with TimeCaptain and me to answer our questions about the brand, about watches in general and of course about the F1.

WP: TW Steel launched earlier this year the CEO TECH David Coulthard Edition to celebrate the 20th anniversary of your GP debut. Are you involved in the design process of the watches that are named after you?

DC: In a certain way yes, but the main concept you have to leave that to professionals who understand how to put it together, but if you look at the watches I had over the time, the first one was grey leather and grey body that no one was doing at the time. The second one was with an automatic movement, which was a nice step for TW Steel into something more traditional and with this one here, we’ve put carbon dial on it, that makes it more striking and strong. The actual case is used in many other models, but everything else is unique and it got my name on the back. I get a lot of reaction from this, even when I flew over, someone on the plane asked me what is that watch? When I say, it’s a TW Steel, people are a bit surprised. Not everyone heard of the brand, but they certainly start to know it afterwards.

TW Steel CEO Tech David Coulthard Special Edition

TW Steel CEO Tech David Coulthard Special Edition

TC: David, We all know how competitive F1 drivers are! Are there timepiece rivalries in the paddock? Do drivers feel pressure to outdo the other guys’ timepiece?

DC: (Smiling) Really, to be honest, I know what you’re saying, but I think that because the guys in the Formula 1 earn quite well, so within reason they can buy watches that are considered aspirational, that others would want to save up to buy them, but when you can afford them it becomes a different sort of purchase. That you get into an “anti-statement”, so those classic stereotype statement watches that you want to show that you’re a successful person, once people achieve certain level of financial success, then it’s like a lot of GP drivers don’t drive exotic sports cars, they drive Jeeps, or they drive functional cars. Because if you drive a racing car, the last thing you need is a Ferrari for the road, because it’s not the most comfortable and most practical car. It’s a beautiful car, but it’s not a car that you would use every day.

TC: we often blog about the connection between cars, especially F1 cars, and timepieces. Do you see a relationship between watches and cars?

DC: Yes, I think they are exhibits of high-end engineering, they are aspirational, they are sexy in their own way if they are well put together, they are fashion statements, but they are functional fashion statements because by association they denote who we are. If it’s a Ferrari club, then we’re part of it, but if it’s a TW Steel than it’s all about the statement you make with the oversized watches. I think both cars and watches are part of a functional fashion industry.

TC: This is fantastic since we love both watches and cars. David, this is a question I’ve been dying to ask for years! We often see drivers on the podium wearing big watches, they obviously don’t wear them in the cockpit. How and when does the watch find its way onto a driver’s wrist after a race?

DC: When you go into the holding room than they put on the watch before heading out onto the podium. when I started racing, we were allowed to wear our watches in the car, but then there is a point when you are not allowed to wear a watch or jewellery, because of an accident, a fire, the heat.

TC: Is it because of the weight too?

DC: Yeah, but it’s a relatively small amount of weight, but yeah.

The 2014 TW Steel collection

The 2014 TW Steel novelties

TC: We are very proud of our event in Montreal, how would you rate Montreal as a GP venue?

DC: It’s right up there, because F1 is about high-performance race cars on the track, but it’s also glamorous. Glamour is not the cars, but the people who own the event, who own the track, who own the parties. It’s a very glamourous event, because people dress up, head out to the streets and party hard.

TC: Have you ever visited Montreal in the winter and if so, how would you rate your winter driving skills?

DC: Well, I came in January once, and it was freeeezing cold, I’ve been to Winnipeg once in the winter, but I also have a place in Switzerland and I go up there in the winter. I think my winter driving skills are not too bad, as with anything, you have to make sure, you have the right tires.

TC: Watching Formula One right now, which driver stands out the most for you?

DC: I think there three guys there that are really exceptional, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Very, very close to them you have Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Räikkönen, they are all exceptional drivers, but I think those three are showing the last bit of commitment and hunger. Formula One is not about finding something good, but finding something amazing and over the years everyone that went to a championship is there for a reason.

TC: Which F1 circuit and which public road is your favourite to drive?

DC: Scottish public roads are great because they are flowing and there is no one really there distracting you. As for race tracks, I love Spain, Belgium, Monaco, I like the challenge here in Canada, but the faster tracks are the ones that I like because that’s where a GP car comes alive at over 100 miles an hour.

TC: What’s your take on 2014 spec Formula One?

DC: It’s a great step to watch to make the race sustainable, it’s important to be seen to be working hand and glove with the manufacturers because all their cars in the future will be harnessing energy, rather than the thermo-combustion engine. The noise, I’m not a big fan of it, it’s quite. I like the noise, for me, Formula One is like a rock concert, not a symphony.

TC: One last Formula One question, it looks like the race on Sunday is will be dominated by the silver cars, Hamilton or Rosberg?

DC: I think Rosberg will find it very difficult to match Hamilton here because Hamilton is stronger in the circuit. If Rosberg would beat Hamilton, that would be a big game.

TC: David, after following you for so many years, it was a great pleasure chatting with you.Thank you so much!

As a graphic designer, I'm fascinated by the crossroads between technology and aesthetics. Horology is one of these crafts, where art and engineering come together to produce mechanical wonders that grace the eye. WatchPaper was born from the desire to create an online tool where I can share my passion for watches.