With an involvement in Formula One – as both constructor and engine supplier – spanning 30 years and including 650 Grand Prix, 170 victories and 12 titles, the launch of a new Renault F1 car was always going to cause a buzz louder than a village of active beehives. It, therefore, came as little surprise when the great and good from the world of motorsport packed into Pimlico’s Lindley Hall for the launch of the R.S. 17 in February this year. To great fanfare, Renault Sport Formula One Team leaders, sponsors and drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer plus development driver Sergey Sirotkin were joined by F1 legend and long-term Renault supporter Alain Prost to unveil the 2017 car.
Before the big reveal, team bosses including Renault Sport President Jérôme Stoll and Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul, took to the stage to explain that, while the 2016 F1 season had set the vision and ambition for Renault Sport, 2017 would be about reaping the rewards thanks to the integration and growth of the team and, of course, the right car. The key words for the event were passion, spirit, performance and technology, which meant that Renault Sports official watch partner since 2016, Bell & Ross, felt right at home; Renault’s mission statement echoing its own standards of “legibility, functionality, precision and reliability”.
Due to its exclusive relationship with Renault, B&R’s Co-founder and CEO Carlos-A. Rosillo chose the London debut of the R.S. 17 to introduce the first in a trilogy of new watches dedicated to the team. Although the threesome won’t have its official launch until Baselworld later this month, Rosillo allowed a sneak peek at the first of the set: the BR03-94 RS17. While the signature 42mm square case is pure Bell & Ross, most of the material influences and design cues come straight from Renault Sport – if you don’t like yellow, this is not the watch for you!
The ceramic case, water-resistant to 100m, makes the watch extremely shock resistant, while the carbon fibre dial reminds the owner that he or she is wearing something inspired by the technology of motor racing. The chronograph counters feature yellow accents as a reminder that this is in celebration of team Renault, and further red and green highlights on the dial are reminiscent of the standard flags and cockpit GPS marshalling systems used to communicate vital messages to drivers as they race around the track. Large, applied numerals make for high legibility, as does the Super-LumiNova that fills them and the hour and minute hands.
Within the case is the automatic chronograph calibre BR-CAL.301, which is based on the ETA 2894-2. The central chronograph seconds hand, 30-minute totaliser sub-dial at 9 o’clock and tachymeter scale at the dial’s edge are all in yellow anodised aluminium, again highlighting the livery colour of Renault since its entry in to Formula 1. A small-seconds at 3 o’clock and date at 4:30 complete the dial layout.
Speaking of Renault’s current livery colour when it was unveiled in 2016 in Melbourne, Australia, MD Cyril Abiteboul said: “[It] is about our identity and what Renault stands for. I look around and it looks like people are trying to disappear from the tarmac, so we’ve gone for something different. I think it works well. We’ve gone for yellow, which has been the colour of Renault since 1946, so we’ve been true to our history. The first-ever Renault F1 car, the RS01, hit the track in yellow and black in 1977, and this latest livery is a nod to this formidable car.”
One thing is for sure: the R.S 17 will not be missed as it travels around GP tracks in 2017 –and neither will the 500 pieces of the BR03-94 RS17 and its Renault-inspired siblings when they are introduced at Baselworld on 23 March.
Chronograph Calibre BR-CAL.301, based on an ETA 2894-2.
Woven black rubber and black synthetic fabric; black PVD-coated steel pin buckle.