Juggling between acting, directing, car racing, his family and philanthropy, Patrick Dempsey also manages to squeeze in time for his role as TAG Heuer brand ambassador, a position he has held since 2014. Just a couple of days before the unveiling of the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche, we sat down with Patrick Dempsey and chatted about this new watch in tribute to the iconic 911. A perfect opportunity as Patrick Dempsey has a very special relationship with both brands.
Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – What is your first watch memory growing up?
Patrick Dempsey – My father’s watch. I don’t remember what the brand was, but that was my first memory. I remember seeing it on his side table as I got up in the morning. This is my first image of a watch or of the concept of watches. What is fascinating today is that a lot of young people don’t have to tell time because they are used to their phones. What’s been very fun is to get my son his first watch and then have him wear watches and select something from my selection when he goes out to events.
What did you get for your son?
An Aquaracer because he is into surfing. He really likes that, so the Aquaracer was just perfect.
How was the connection with TAG Heuer created?
Through sponsorship, through my racing team. How beautiful is that? This is the perfect way to come about connecting in a brand that way. It was very special. I remember being presented with a Monaco watch, with Mr. Biver at the time, right on the grid at Le Mans! Car racing is really entrenched in the brand’s DNA through sport and the constant improvement in precision timekeeping. And with the partnership with Porsche and TAG Heuer, it is the perfect combination, it is very authentic.
Indeed you are also a Porsche ambassador…
And I have been with them almost as long. So it’s been quite special to have these partnerships and to develop these relationships. It is about the humanity behind that and working together, and the respect and the care that goes into an event or the launch of a new watch. It is very meaningful. It is not a transactional thing at all. It is a lifestyle, and working together and honouring a legacy.
This is what is beautiful about Frédéric (editor’s note: Frédéric Arnault, CEO of TAG Heuer). He is following a tradition. When you look back, in 1860, a young man started a company. When Jack Heuer took over from his father, he was a young man. And it continues. We are losing these values and these ways of doing business. It means a lot to me to be a part of that. I am very grateful, very happy, I don’t think I could work with another company because it is so special.
Over time you have assembled quite a collection. Which of these watches is particularly dear to you?
Well, they all are! They all mean something; they capture a specific time and place. Certainly, the watch that was presented to me at Le Mans, I raced with that watch so it reminds me of 2015 and getting on the podium. It was a blue Monaco watch.
Prior to that, I bought my first vintage watch, a Monaco, on my way to Spa when I raced there for the very first time. That was very cool, too. It was commemorating the ending of the show I was on at the time and committing a full year to the WEC (World Endurance Championship).
Each one has a different experience or a different journey. They are all different memories, different moments in time. Just over the weekend, I had the Carrera Porsche RS 2.7, the gold version, at the Venice watch festival, which was very special too.
And now there is the new Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche you are wearing today.
This is very cool! Have you looked at it yet? It is a very special collaboration. The movement is incredible, the way it works, it is so hypnotic to watch it… these 9.1 seconds, which was like the original car accelerating swiftly and then starting to slow down. It is a genius idea, very clever, very unique.
There are so many details, you look at it and just keep discovering things. The glass box is so clean, and the 911 on the band is so subtle. And it is a perfect combination because one of Jack Heuer’s first purchases was a 911. That connection is so authentic to him and to the brand, the mutual respect between the two companies is beautiful to see.
You just visited the TAG Heuer manufacture. What surprised you?
I’m always learning something new about the history. I got to go to the archives and see some of the older watches with Nick (editor’s note: Nicholas Biebuick, Heritage Director at TAG Heuer). He is great and so knowledgeable.
I was also very impressed by the apprenticeship program that LVMH has put together to develop young watchmakers. That, to me, is really the most important thing. We are always talking about AI and how fast things are moving, but we are losing the sense of craftsmanship and of taking the time to build things. Things like this apprenticeship program are very special. It is about the humanity behind the watches, about all the stages of production. It is about how many people have been here for so long, about their loyalty and their connection to the brand, it is a testament to the leadership and the culture that has been in place. In this sense, it is not surprising, it is reassuring.
The surprise is more the innovations and some of the stuff that is upcoming, it is really exciting to see what is happening. And doing it in a sustainable way and in a fun way!
Besides watches, films and car racing, what is next on your agenda?
The biggest thing is my foundation, the Dempsey Center for Cancer. We treat people who have been impacted by cancer. We don’t treat the disease; we treat the person. To me, this is the most rewarding thing, working with the team in the community I grew up in. We spend a lot of money on research and development for drugs, and we need to continue to do that. But what we are really missing is the human side and caring side of cancer treatment, and that is what we provide.
That came out of my own experience with my mother being diagnosed with cancer and how hard it was for us. It is about a total wrap around the care in complement to the traditional approach of medicine. Our goal is to take care of people in the state of Maine but also to connect with other like-minded centres around the world so we can bring more attention to this. It does help and bring a better quality of life, not only for the patient but also for the families. That’s a thing that takes up a considerable amount of time, but it is something I love doing. We have a very compassionate board. When you work for something that is not about yourself but for the benefit of others, it is just so much more enjoyable!
For more information, please visit www.tagheuer.com.