Freddie Hunt talks racing, watches and life in the fast lane…
Last month, Seen in the City attended the launch of a very special watch from what is fast becoming one of our favourite brands. The official James Hunt Chronograph is a seriously sporty number from Omologato, an affordable luxury label that has a very special relationship with the motor racing industry.
The James Hunt Chronograph commemorates the career of the British racing legend who won the Formula 1 Championship in 1976. Dying tragically young, at just 45, the watch celebrates what would have been his 70th birthday and features the iconic primary coloured stripes that adorn his championship helmet. Now, nearly 25 years after his death in 1993, his son Freddie Hunt is following in his footsteps. We were very privileged to get a private interview with him, to discuss his life in the fast lane and the family’s collaboration on the watch.
SITC: Being a racing driver is a pretty unusual career. How do you actually get into that?
Freddie Hunt: I started because of my father, because I was given opportunities to try a car and I liked it and I was encouraged to give it a go if I wanted to. I started when I was around 19 years old, which is quite late to start and after about three or four years I realised that my chances of getting to Formula 1 were pretty minimal, so I decided to try for Le Mans, which is the world largest 24-hours race. It’s tricky, it’s a tough journey and it requires a lot of sponsorship. Other drivers perhaps start when they’re kids. Maybe they go-karting and they show some talent for it so they start earlier!
SITC: You have a great legacy behind you. Is it hard to live up to that?
Freddie Hunt: I try not to live up to it. I did try and live up to it a lot in my early years, but that just created an awful lot of pressure on myself. Now I’ve got the attitude that I shouldn’t care what people think. I’m my own person.
SITC: What’s the industry like? Is it a bit weird sometimes or do you feel at home there?
Freddie Hunt: To be honest, no. I was brought up as a bit of a wild child in the countryside so the culture is a bit different. But there are nice people in it.
SITC: Tell us about the collaboration with Omologato. How involved were you in the creative process?
Freddie Hunt: We were actually friends with Shami [Shami Kalra, Omologato founder] for years before this partnership. We watched what he was doing with all of these other brands and when the opportunity arose, we started talking. We were presented with 6 or 7 options and we were able to say ‘yes we like this’ or ‘can we change this or tweak this’ and so the watch very much came out of this friendship, rather than a hardcore commercial arrangement.”
SITC: Were you happy with the result?
Freddie Hunt: Yeah! We wouldn’t have signed off on it if we didn’t like it! We had a watch with Tag Heuer last year, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the F1 Championship win. At the time it was really nice and we were really happy, but when you compare it to the Omologato watch, just the quality of the design, the look, feel and style, it’s really different.
SITC: So tell us about your next “Big Goal”. You mentioned Le Mans. Is that what you’re aiming for?
Freddie Hunt: Yeah that’s the target. About 700 million people watch Le Mans. It’s a 24-hour race once a year and it’s the pinnacle of sports car racing.
SITC: You must get to travel a lot with your racing career. Do you have any favourite destinations or a place you call a home away from home?
Freddie Hunt: Well, I’ve spent a lot of time in Argentina over the years, so I guess that would be my “home away from home”, but there’s lots of other places I’d like to go as well. I’d like to see more of South America, New Zealand, Canada and Alaska. Those are the highest on the list.
SITC: Lots of adventure destinations!
Freddie Hunt: Yeah, I’m not a beach boy. Mind you, I’d like to see more of the Caribbean. I’ve been to Antigua and that was lovely. But it’s quite a spenny trip – I need to win a race first!
SITC: After Le Mans, what comes next?
Freddie Hunt: Well after I retire from racing I’d probably like to run a farm or something. I guess I’d head off back to the country side!
The official James Hunt Chronograph is available to buy at www.omologatowatches.com