- Kristian Haagen
THE LEGEND OF THE 24 HOURS OF LE MANS
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is more than just a race. It is a pursuit that started in 1923 as an attempt to answer the question of who could drive the furthest in 24 hours. Rolex has since partnered the world’s oldest endurance contest as the Official Timepiece and, today, “Le Mans” remains an icon in the realm of motor sport. For almost a century, Circuit de la Sarthe has demanded unique concentration and skill from drivers and, in doing so, has witnessed the making of legends. Recognizing the commitment, perseverance and passion at the heart of this ultimate test of man and machine, Rolex supports motor sport at the highest level and celebrates its most emblematic figures.
In 2010, nine years after partnering the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Swiss watchmaker welcomed Tom Kristensen into its family. On and off the track, Kristensen epitomizes the spirit of a Rolex Testimonee, someone who strives for excellence through constant dedication and continuous improvement; to this day, the Danish racing driver remains the only person to have achieved nine career wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This year, as he celebrates 25 years since his first victory, Tom Kristensen says: “For a racing driver, Rolex and Le Mans are the perfect match; the most elegant and prestigious watchmaker and the most mythical and legendary car race. So many stories play out over the 24 hours and when you have the right process it creates magic.” It was in early June 1997 that Tom Kristensen received an invitation from Joest Racing to compete in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans. Incredibly, just nine days later, on Sunday 15 June, Kristensen claimed his maiden victory at the iconic circuit, setting a new lap record in the process. “To win Le Mans on my debut was a special moment and that short time in June was the most important of my racing life,” reflects the Rolex Testimonee, 25 years on from that historic achievement.
Those who triumph in this fabled twice-around-the-clock contest are rewarded with an engraved Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona timepiece, having earned their place in motor sport history. Kristensen continues: “We carry a victory at Le Mans with pride for the rest of our lives. Growing up, my ambition was to be a racing driver and to be able to wear a Rolex, and now I am fortunate that these dreams have been fulfilled.
My watches allow me to relive my achievements with teams and co-drivers, while being reminded of the deep history of our sport.” A legend in watchmaking, the Cosmograph Daytona represents the ultimate award in motor racing, embodying a drive for excellence and quest for perfection.