A Look Back At The Career And Watches Of Kimi Räikkönen
With “The Iceman” retiring at the end of the 2021 Formula 1 season, we take a look at his cool watch collection.
A racing prodigy who competed internationally as a teen, Finnish racing driver Kimi Räikkönen is slated to say goodbye after the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December of this year, it won’t be his first time leaving Formula 1. In 2010 and 2011, Räikkönen left the sport to compete in the World Rally Championship and a one-off stint in NASCAR.
Nevertheless, we will miss him. And while “The Iceman” is a man of few words – his nickname is due to his composure on the track and reserved demeanor off it – when Kimi does have something to say, people listen.
In addition to his laconic nature, Räikkönen is also a man of few watches. He has collaborated on a handful of timepieces over the years, and you best believe they are all carefully designed. Let’s have a look at some of his time machines.
TAG Heuer Kimi Räikkönen Formula 1 Limited Edition
I had the opportunity to interview him back in 2017. Naturally, I had to ask about his first watch and car (the latter being a LADA). As for his first watch, Räikkönen said, “It’s a tradition to get a watch at a certain age,” but the champ couldn’t recall the make or model.
Räikkönen may have forgotten, but for many of the 41-year-old Alfa Romeo racer’s peers, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 was their introduction to luxury watches; and the TAG Heuer Kimi Räikkönen Formula 1 Limited Edition watch was one of his first brand collaborations.
Released in 2008 to celebrate his 2007 World Championship with Scuderia Ferrari, the 44mm chronograph featured Räikkönen’s name on the dial and signature on the caseback. Like most of the TAG Heuer Formula 1 watches of that era, it had a nice, linear look. The 9 o’clock position featured a twin-handed, semi-circular minutes counter, and the 6 o’clock position a 1/10th seconds counter.
Additionally, the watch sported a red, white, and black colorway (much like Ferrari’s race cars) and was capped with the Formula 1’s unmistakable unidirectional aluminum bezel. Buyers also had the choice of either a steel bracelet or a red and black rubber rallye strap.
Fueled by a quartz movement, it was also a nice entry-level piece for fans exploring the world of limited edition, racing-related chronographs.
Hublot Techframe Ferrari 70 Years Tourbillon Chronograph
Back to Räikkönen’s LADA for a minute…
During our interview in 2017, “The Iceman” told me that he got his first watch and car when he turned 18. Even though he’d been competing internationally since he was 15, Räikkönen was not bothered about riding around in a beater: “Most of the time I was only driving back and forth to the airport,” he said.
My, how things have changed! When I met Räikkönen, he was racing for Scuderia Ferrari, who at the time had a partnership with Hublot. For the 70th anniversary of the legendary constructor, Hublot created the Techframe Ferrari 70 Years Tourbillon Chronograph. At the time, the watch was unique in its use of Polyether Ether Ketone Carbon in its case.
For Räikkönen, this ultra-light case construction was the most appealing feature of the watch.
The watch also featured such automotive design cues as a 3D minutes counter at 11 o’clock and a twin half-second counter at 3 o’clock modeled after Ferrari’s signature speedometers.
“It looks great,” said Räikkönen. But, most importantly, “It feels correct.”
Richard Mille RM 50-04 Kimi Räikkönen
Räikkönen has raced for many different Formula 1 teams: Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari (on two different occasions), Lotus, and Alfa Romeo. Likewise, he has worked with many different watch brands. For some, switching allegiances may seem disloyal. But, a direct result of this “team hopping” is that Räikkönen has been professionally associated with luxury watch brands (via team sponsorships) for decades and really knows the watch industry.
In the case of the Richard Mille RM 50-04 Kimi Räikkönen, the feeling was mutual. “We in Finland are known for our ‘guts’ and determination. We even have a word for it – ‘sisu,’ ” said Räikkönen when the timepiece debuted in 2019. “We have it in our stomachs. It’s what gets us past the finishing line, despite the odds.”
The Richard Mille RM 50-04 Kimi Räikkönen features a manually winding calibre RM 50-03 movement with a slew of complications: tourbillon, split-seconds chronograph, 30-minute totalizer, power-reserve tracker, and torque and function indicators. It’s an ultra-light machine made with grade 5 titanium and carbon TPT components.
According to Räikkönen, the RM 50-04 has “sisu in spades.” He also said that “it has guts, technological prowess, and above all, fun.” That pretty much sums up our feelings about Räikkönen.
He may be “The Iceman,” but he made Formula 1 fun for two decades; and for that, we are thankful.