Racing the Clock: Lewis Hamilton & IWC Team Up on New Chronograph

The new IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Lewis Hamilton, released in late 2023, is the product of a years-long collaboration between the Formula One champion and the luxury Swiss watchmaker. As impressive as this platinum-and-diamond tourbillon is, however, it’s just the latest in a long line of remarkable achievements for one of the 21st century’s greatest athletes.

Few athletes, in any sport, can claim even a fraction of the accolades accumulated by the British racing driver during his already decades-long career. From a promising start in F1 with McLaren in 2007, Hamilton has competed in more than 300 Grands Prix over 17 seasons, racking up 103 race wins, more than 100 pole positions, 19 hat tricks, and seven world championship titles. This makes him the single most successful driver in the history of the sport statistically and, in the eyes of enthusiasts, high in the running for the title of greatest driver in F1 history. Add to those accolades that, along the way, Hamilton has also distinguished himself as an outspoken advocate for social justice, using his celebrity clout to promote a wide range of anti-racist, humanitarian, and environmentalist causes.

Lewis Hamilton IWC Watch 12-23

The 38-year-old has also earned a reputation as the most stylish driver in F1, often sporting avant-garde looks created by the world’s top designers and possessing an incredibly impressive collection of watches and jewellery. In addition to his trademark diamond stud earrings, Hamilton is regularly seen wearing the latest timepieces from IWC, a long-time sponsor of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team for which the driver has raced since the 2013 season. So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, given this existing affiliation and the diversity of Hamilton’s resume (he’s launched a fashion line, produced documentaries and even founded his own vegan burger chain) that he’s also got a talent for watch design.

The Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Lewis Hamilton is the third piece in a burgeoning creative partnership between the long-time IWC brand ambassador and the Schaffhausen-based watchmaker. The first was the titanium Ingenieur Chronograph Edition Lewis Hamilton (Ref. IW379602) created in 2014, featuring a piece of carbon fibre from an original F1 car on its case back. In 2019, Hamilton and IWC joined forces once again to create the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition “Lewis Hamilton” (Ref. IW503002), which combined a black ceramic case and a burgundy dial with a crown and case back ring made of 18-carat 5N gold.

Lewis Hamilton IWC Watch 12-23

This year, and limited to just 44 pieces — a knowing nod to the number Hamilton has raced under since the beginning of his career — the 2023 Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Lewis Hamilton (Ref. IW394008) is a standout creation on several fronts. Aesthetically daring and functionally unique, it is a distinctive achievement for both the historic watch brand and for Hamilton himself.

“It has been an honour and a pleasure to work with Lewis on this project,” says Christian Knoop, IWC’s chief design officer, of the partnership. Hamilton’s passion, Knoop adds, was particularly impressive — for both the IWC brand and for the art of mechanical watchmaking itself, his comprehensive knowledge of which was clear at every stage of the two-year development process. “Lewis knew exactly what he wanted and brought excellent ideas to the table,” Knoop says. “The result is a timepiece that combines his unerring sense of aesthetics and love of bold colours with some of the finest watchmaking technology ever developed in Schaffhausen.”


The Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Lewis Hamilton features a 43.5-millimetre platinum case, the only piece in the IWC lineup to be crafted from the distinctive material. The whitish sheen of the platinum — one of the rarest and most valuable of all precious metals — complements a rich teal-coloured dial that pays homage to the livery of Hamilton’s Mercedes-AMG Petronas single-seater. With slightly recessed displays for the chronograph counter and the retrograde date display, the dial is decorated with Hamilton’s panther eyes logo and, in a nod to the driver’s trademark diamond studs, embellished with 12 sparkling diamonds. Another unusual decision for a platinum-cased diamond watch sees this latest model fitted on a teal textile strap with a folding clasp, a move inspired both by Hamilton’s team colours and his commitment to veganism.

The dial, as the watch’s name suggests, is dominated by a flying hacking minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock. French for “whirlwind,” a tourbillon consists of a balance wheel that rotates in a small cage that works to reduce the influence of gravity on the oscillating system, increase the watch’s accuracy, and provide a unique visual spectacle. Notably, thanks to an integrated tourbillon stop, the mechanism can also be brought to a complete stop, allowing the wearer to set the time with down-to-the-second accuracy. Made up of 56 individual parts and weighing just 0.675 grams, this delicate tourbillon mechanism is among the most advanced creations in the watchmaker’s entire repertoire.

Lewis Hamilton for IWC

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Lewis Hamilton for IWC

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The new chronograph is powered by the IWC-manufactured 89900 calibre movement, with elapsed hours and minutes displayed on a counter at 12 o’clock, and a retrograde date display. This advanced in-house movement also features a pallet lever and escape wheel made from silicon, with a “Diamond Shell” coating. While silicon is used for its temperature-resistant qualities, this ultra-hard coating reduces friction and improves the flow of energy in the movement, granting the watch a power reserve of 68 hours. Other components within the movement — including the bridges and oscillating weight — are gold-plated and visible through the sapphire glass back, marking the first time IWC has produced a gold-plated movement since the early 1990s.

With its combination of elite tourbillon movement, luxurious materials, and bold design, the new Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Lewis Hamilton is unlike any other watch made by IWC in the Swiss brand’s 155-year history. As a tribute to one of the most successful athletes of his generation and one of the greatest drivers in the history of motorsport, however, nothing less would do.