By Kien Lee
Nico Rosberg walks into the room and sits, cutting a relaxed figure.
The burden seems lifted from his shoulders. It could that his newborn child has been safely delivered to the world, the belated arrival of his second daughter that postponed his initial trip to Singapore planned back in September, or that this was probably the first trip to Singapore in 10 years in which he wasn't making corporate appearances during the Singapore Grand Prix race weekend.
Now retired, he certainly wasn't thinking of how he would do during qualifying, whether the car was in prime condition, how many points he'd have to make up in the championship race.
Nico is the reigning 2016 Formula One Driver's Champion. He certainly has that swagger now that the lifelong ambition has been achieved, matching what his father Keke himself had garnered back in 1982. He is part of a father-son double champion combo' that is rarely seen in modern sport.
On this occasion, Nico was in Singapore at the Madison Rooms, to unveil the special edition timepiece that brand partner IWC Schaffhausen has produced to commemorate Nico's world championship win — the Ingenieur Chronograph "Tribute to Nico Rosberg".
Singapore is a special place for Nico, he reveals. It was on his 9th and final attempt that he finally won the Singapore Grand Prix, and his win in 2016 took him in the points lead over teammate Lewis Hamilton, and from thereon he never looked back.
Limited to a production of 23 for the number of Grand Prix races that he has won in his career, the IWC-manufactured chronograph with an 18-carat red gold case was designed by Nico himself in collaboration with Christian Knoop, Creative Director at IWC Schaffhausen.
A special feature of this watch is its see-through sapphire-glass back, which is printed with the "NICO" rounded-lettering logo that fans will recognise from the German–Finnish’s helmet and all his own personal branding.
The association with IWC dovetailed naturally, with Nico revealing as we sat down that his father had in fact gifted him an IWC on his 21st birthday, years before he joined the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team making its return in 2010. It was the German team's collaboration with the watch manufacture that then formally sealed the association with the driver. As it turns out, the coming of the two now extends into Nico's post-F1 career.
We had the privilege of seeing both the IWC watches when we spoke with Nico.
When people talk about your achievement last year, they talk about how talented you are but also how you're an even harder worker.
That's an amazing compliment. Talent is a natural gift which you can’t influence, but the work you put on top is in your own power. I'm very proud to hear you say that.
How did you stay through this discipline? Did it start from when you’re young, getting it right?
I hate losing. I hate losing because I'm such a competitor. I always want to win. It's always been deep inside. It has such power and deep motivation.
And later on also then losing to Lewis [Hamilton] in the first two years of our battle (both driving at Mercedes, with Hamilton winning back-to-back F1 Driver’s Championship)… was such an intense defeat and tough moments. [It] also gave me such a power because I never ever want to experience that again. And I had to win. And so it's really a big driving force as well when I fail.
I remember right after you won the championship, you posted a video of moments when you’re young and how your father was there every step of the way. Do you have any secrets you can share that he taught you?
What did he teach me? He taught me dedication. What it means to be dedicated, and really put everything into the sport.
He taught me that you always meet [someone] twice in life. So always part ways on good terms.
Let's talk about what you’re doing now. What’s the next step in your career?
Life now is about exploring. I have a few challenges which I already lined up. One is driver management. I manage myself now. I have that experience now to support other drivers. I am enjoying that.
Then of course, also [working with] brands, which is why I am here today for IWC.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
The most beautiful thing about what I do is I manage to have millions of people join me on my journey, emotionally. To touch so many people is an incredible power. To give them moments of joy just because of what I am doing… is amazing.
I would love to again, be able to influence a lot of people with my next step. It's not easy ... it will take time to find something which has the power to reach out and connecting with so many people.
One thing for example, could be, maybe is cars. We are going to electric cars, we are going to autonomous cars. That is going to impact people's lives, in a really positive way, if it's done properly so that’s something I'm really interested in.
So maybe in that space, I can influence and be involved in doing something good.
Creative Direction: Kien Lee
Videography: Augustine Yuen from UrbanAperture
Photography: Rui Liang from Lightspade Studio assisted by Lionel Lim