TAG Heuer, Official Timekeeper of Ferrari throughout the 1970s, partnered with the makers of Rush to accurately recreate the sexy and glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing
In its depiction of the Formula 1 environment of 1976, Academy Award® Winning director Ron Howard’s Rush starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl is historically accurate down to the smallest detail. From the cars to the clothes, every element has been meticulously researched. Not since Le Mans, the classic 1970 race film starring Steve McQueen, has a major Hollywood film more authentically recreated the intense action and glamour of the world’s fastest sport.
No surprise, then, that TAG Heuer played a key role in the look of both films.
In Le Mans, McQueen, playing driver Michael Delaney, wore the Heuer crest on his overalls, helmet and car. When the costume department offered him a choice of luxury sports watches to wear, he naturally chose the square-shaped Heuer Monaco chronograph, the same one worn by his friend, the great Heuer-sponsored Swiss driver Jo Siffert.
In Rush, the Heuer colors and crest are visible on the overalls of Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Brühl), his teammate Clay Regazzoni (Pierfrancesco Favino) and every other member of the Scuderia Ferrari crew.–just as they were in 1976. The Swiss watchmaking brand, the world leader in prestigious and high-end chronographs since 1860, signed on as Official Timekeeper of Ferrari in 1971. Throughout the 70s–the golden age of Formula One–every Ferrari driver wore a Heuer chronograph with his name and blood group engraved on the case.
In Rush, the brand’s colors once again bedeck the tracks at Nürburgring, during the German Grand Prix, at Monza for the Italian GP, and the season closer at the Fuji Speedway in Japan. TAG Heuer also loaned the production the F1 timing equipment used in the period. Developed by Jack Heuer for Ferrari, it was the first to measure to 1/1,000ths of a second and was subsequently used by most teams on the circuit.
And, of course, there are the watches….
In Rush, Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) wears a Heuer Silverstone, the iconic chronograph of the 70s, named after the British motor racing circuit. James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) wears the full gold Heuer Carrera chronograph, first created by Jack Heuer in 1963 and named after the Carrera Panamericana Mexico Road Race, the world’s most grueling open-road endurance competition. Part of motor-racing lore, the watches are among the most coveted collectibles in the watch world. The Silverstone was re-released in an exclusive edition in 2010. The bold Carrera design is celebrating this year its 50th anniversary and now houses’s the brand’s new Calibre 1887 movement. Both vintage pieces, along with the timing equipment, are now safely back in their display cases at the TAG Heuer’s 360° Museum in La-Chaux-des-Fonds, Switzerland.
Back to 1976…
…Heuer, a small family company based in Saint Imier in the Swiss hills of Jura, had already been active in Formula 1 for seven years. The production of racecar dashboard instruments had led Jack Heuer, who retires this year as the Honorary Chairman of TAG Heuer at the age of 80, to link his company’s future to motor racing.
In 1968, Jack Heuer signed the first ever non-automotive endorsement deal in Formula 1 history with Jo Siffert. The following year Heuer released the legendary Calibre 11, the world’s first automatic chronograph movement, which saw first use in the mythic Monaco, the watch of choice of Grand Prix drivers and Steve McQueen. Two years later, Jack went after Enzo Ferrari and the Scuderia. In an autobiography to be released in September 2013, Jack recalls: “I decided to visit Ferrari on 7 April 1971. At the factory in Maranello we met Piero Lardi-Ferrari and offered to equip Ferrari should it agree to place our red Heuer logo on all their Formula One racing cars, on the front below the windshield. The deal was formalized on the spot and signed with Enzo Ferrari – using his trademark pen with violet ink.”
Heuer and the crew of timekeeping technicians were present at every race event depicted in Rush. Niki Lauda’s accident and heroic return to racing are vividly etched in their memories. Jean Campiche, Heuer’s Official Timekeeper for Scuderia Ferrari at the time, describes: “ I was in charge of giving timing information during practice, qualifying sessions and during the race, not only about the two Ferrari cars but also about all other cars. I remember very well the day Niki Lauda got back into his car in Monza in 1976. He was wearing a balaclava over his bandages. After the race, he took it off and his head was covered with blood. It all gave a us on the track a very good sense that his will had almost no limits.“
Following the fatal crash that took the life of Jo Siffert in 1971 and Niki Lauda’s accident in Nürburbring in 1976, Jack Heuer asked himself the question: “I really had a personal crisis: was-it ethically correct for our company to sponsor individuals involved in a sport so fraught with danger? The tragedy (Jo Siffert’s death) prompted me to establish guidelines on how to use racing drivers in our advertising campaigns and I decided not to conduct campaigns based on a single driver, but rather to base them on the cars.”
By persuading Enzo Ferrari to feature a large Heuer logo on the cockpit of his Formula One cars, Jack Heuer laid the foundations for the globalization of the Heuer brand, a move boosted by the dramatic rise in television audiences for Formula One racing in the 1970s. Heuer, which became TAG Heuer in 1985 and joined the LVMH Group in 1999, has been a proud partner of McLaren team in Formula 1 since 1985, and holds the record of the longest standing sports watch brand sponsorship in history. Along the way it has timed the Indy 500 and partnered with Le Mans teams and sponsored ever major F1 racing legend from Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost to David Coulthard, Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and today’s Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez. The brand also supports F1 Swiss-French driver Romain Grosjean.
Two-time Academy Award® winner Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon), teams once again with fellow two-time Academy Award® nominee, writer Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen), on Rush, a spectacular big-screen re-creation of the merciless 1970s rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
The epic action-drama stars Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers) as the charismatic Englishman James Hunt and Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds) as the disciplined Austrian perfectionist Niki Lauda, whose clashes on the Grand Prix racetrack epitomized the contrast between these two extraordinary characters, a distinction reflected in their private lives.
Set against the sexy and glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing, Rush portrays the exhilarating true story of two of the greatest rivals the world has ever witnessed—handsome English playboy Hunt and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Lauda. Taking us into their personal lives on and off the track, Rush follows the two drivers as they push themselves to the breaking point of physical and psychological endurance, where there is no shortcut to victory and no margin for error. If you make one mistake, you die.
Also starring Olivia Wilde (TRON: Legacy) and Alexandra Maria Lara (The Reader), Rush is produced by Andrew Eaton (A Mighty Heart), Howard, Academy Award® winner Brian Grazer (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind), Eric Fellner (Senna, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Morgan and Brian Oliver (Black Swan) and executive produced by Cross Creek Pictures, Exclusive Media, Todd Hallowell and Tim Bevan. Universal Pictures will distribute the film in North America.