Michael Schumacher watch collection
Esquire Australia

FOR MUCH OF the last two decades, including after the tragic accident that removed the seven-time Formula One World Champion from public view, public opinion of Michael Schumacher largely boiled down to his reputation as one of sporting history’s most fearsome competitors. To his fans, he was a ruthless winning machine, exhibiting a level of dominance never seen in the sport up until that time with refreshingly little thought given to anything else. To others, he came across as aloof as he was elite  – a charmless champion programmed to do little more than push the boundaries in pursuit of victory.

Recent times, however, have brought about a more postmodern view on the Schumacher era – one soaked in the nineties and noughties nostalgia that much of the F1’s recent wave of new and returning fans seemingly can’t get enough of. Netflix’s documentary, while not exactly revelatory, showed a softer side to the ruthless racer, while younger fans examining the sport’s history are recontextualising Schumacher’s period not just as one of the world’s most iconic athletes, as well as a bona fide cultural icon during his heyday. 

Now, watch enthusiasts will be offered a small window into the notoriously private Schumacher’s personal tastes courtesy of a new Christie’s auction featuring eight of the timepieces he accrued during his two decades in the sport. And with the German hitting his zenith in a time before drivers had sponsor-provided watches slapped onto their wrists the second they stepped out of the car, it’s a collection as refreshingly storied as it is valuable. Check it out below.

All figures converted to AUD as of April 17 2024

The most valuable pieces in Michael Schumacher’s watch collection

Rolex Daytona Paul Newman Ref. 6262

A Paul Newman man well before the Daytona variant became one of the hottest commodities in watchmaking, Schumacher was a documented fan of Rolex’s racing-oriented references early in his career before inking deals with the likes of Omega and TAG Heuer. This particular steel-bracelet, reverse-panda Daytona is from a short production run of references made in the early ‘70s, and as a particularly scarce Paul Newman reference still owned by Schumacher himself, we have a feeling it could go well beyond its estimate when push comes to shove.

F.P. Journe Platinum Vagabonde 1

Perhaps the most storied piece in Schumacher’s collection that’s hitting the auction block, the first (and definitively not the last) F.P. Journe in this list was gifted to Schumacher by then-Ferrari team principal Jean Todt as a christmas present in 2004 – just after he’d wrapped up his record-setting seventh world championship. Seven symbols commemorating his world championship victories, as well as a Ferrari logo and a recreation of Schumacher’s famous helmet, form a ring around the dial.

Audemars Piguet 18k Gold Royal Oak

Schumacher, like so many other great athletes, developed a taste for AP’s signature sports watch late in his career, something Todt picked up on commissioning this special-edition piece from the Le Brassus marque to honour his driver’s sixth world championship triumph. One of the cleanest vintage Royal Oaks to hit the market in recent years, its bright-white motif is contrasted only by a subtle flash of Ferrari red, with six stars on the right-hand chronograph symbolising his Championship wins to that point.

F.P. Journe Ruthenium Collection Octa Chronographe

The most race-y of Journe’s Ruthenium Collection, this model boasts the marque’s unique take on the stopwatch mechanism that have become ubiquitous with motorsport-themed timepieces over the decades. The genius of the Octa Chronographe lies in its integrated mechanisms, which allow the model to be incredibly thin compared to other chronograph wristwatches.

F.P. Journe Ruthenium Collection Octa Jour / Nuit

The most obscure of the five Ruthenium Collection watches, the Octa Jour / Nuit is little known not because it’s unpopular, rather that, for reasons unknown, it was only ever released as part of this particular drop, never to be replicated. Handsomely nonconcentric, its almost Dali-esque dial incorporates a day-night indicator function as well as off-kilter time and date indicators.

F.P. Journe Ruthenium Collection Octa Calendrier

Just 99 pieces of each Ruthenium Collection model were created by Journe, number 92 of each went to schumacher. The Octa Calendrier might be the most elegant of the five, with a sweeping annual calendar dial that beautifully incorporates its date disc. Journe’s first ever annual calendar model, it’s still one of the most beautiful ever made.

F.P. Journe Ruthenium Collection Tourbillon Souverain

The second model in the quintet is the watch that has become one of Journe’s most renowned – the Tourbillion Souverain that over the decades has earned near limitless acclaim and desirability thanks to its elegance and accuracy, most notably winning the Aiguille d’Or’ prize at the 2004 Geneva ‘Grand Prix d’Horlogerie’. The key innovation in the model is the remontoire d’egalité that’s integrated into its tourbillon movement – the first ever successfully placed into a wristwatch.

F.P. Journe Ruthenium Collection Chronomètre à Résonance

François-Paul Journe made the most radical, desirable watches of the early 2000s, with Schumacher and the rest of the racing set among the brand’s earliest devotees. The feeling was clearly mutual, with Journe, who had already made custom pieces for Schumacher and Todt like the Vagabonde above, releasing a 2004 collection made with the house’s now much-sought after brass movements and themed around dials made from the rare metal Ruthenium – a material still scarce in watchmaking today – and reserving one of each for Schumacher himself. 

The Chronomètre à Résonance, which employed the world’s first and only resonance-based wristwatch movement, is the most highly prized of the five.


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