Audemars Piguet has a long history of sponsoring F1 drivers. Rubens Barrichello and Juan Pablo Montoya – race-winning drivers for top teams both – have acted as the brand's ambassadors. As has Jarno Trulli. But the Swiss watchmaker has chosen a heck of a year to honor the Italian driver with his own timepiece.
A former Formula Three national champion, Trulli's been in F1 since 1997. Although he's only won one Formula One grand prix, there are only 102 people in the whole world – living or dead – who could say that. Jarno's also landed on pole position four times, the podium 11 times and scored over 246 points in his career so far. And that's nothing to cough at. But this season has by far been his worst yet.
After several seasons driving for such teams as Minardi, Prost, Jordan, Renault and Toyota, this year he's driving for the struggling newcomers at Lotus Racing. As a result, he was unable to start one race, unable to finish another six, and of those he has finished, he's been unable to score a single championship point this year. Some season to mark with a commemorative special edition, but does that make this timepiece any less of a jewel? Hardly.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Jarno Trulli Chronograph, though long-winded in name, is about as slick as they come. It's got a forged carbon-fiber case, a ceramic bezel, titanium fixtures, red luminous indices and hands... the works. Inside is a 59-jewel automatic movement with no fewer than 365 parts, a 60-hour power reserve and a 22-carat gold oscillating weight that's been covered in anthracite to numb the bling factor. In other words, as dark a horse as the driver it's named after. Only 500 examples will be made, offered initially at the company's boutique in Tokyo where it was launched during this year's Japanese Grand Prix before it goes global.