High-end watches and high-performance cars have long been intertwined, and the cross section between watch aficionados and car-racing enthusiasts has always been large. So it makes sense that "racing watches" — i.e., watches built to be worn and used in the arena of motorsports, many with automobile design language built into their aesthetic DNA — have long represented a popular sub-genre in the wider luxury sport-watch universe. Here we spotlight 15 auto-racing watches from 14 brands (one brand merited two entries on the list; we think you'll agree which one), ranging in price from eminently affordable to super-luxury. We've included some acknowledged icons of the genre as well as watches from a few brands you may not have considered. Gentlemen (and ladies), start your engines... and we're off!
Seiko Prospex Speedtimer
Price: $675, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 13.3mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45.5mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Crystal: Sapphire, Movement: Seiko Solar Caliber V192
The original Seiko Speedtimer, released in 1969, was among the world’s first self-winding chronograph watches, equipped with the legendary Caliber 6139. When Seiko revived the Speedtimer, as part of its sport-oriented Prospex collection, it decided to eschew the automatic mechanical movement in favor a new, high-tech, solar-powered one, Caliber V192, which enhances reliability and runs up to six months on a single charge from any light source. The motorsport-inspired tachymeter scale is etched into the stationary bezel, and the dial’s intuitive design uses red detailing for the central seconds hand and the elapsed minutes hand on the 6 o’clock subdial at 6 o’clock for easy reading of the chronograph displays. The date window is nestled unobtrusively between the indexes at 4 and 5 o’clock, helping to enhance the overall legibility of the sunray-finished dial.
Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey
Price: $1,995, Case Size: 40mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic FC-303 (Sellita SW200-1 base)
Frederique Constant pays tribute to classic rally cars and their “gentlemen drivers” with the Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph, a handsome three-hander in a 40-mm polished steel case and a dial in the deep, bold green historically associated with British motorsports and vintage Healey cars in particular. The hands, indexes and flange are all silver-coated and the automatic movement inside the 2,888-piece limited edition is Frederique Constant’s Sellita-based FC-303, with 26 jewels, a 28,800-vph frequency, and a 38-hour power reserve. As is traditional with the brand’s special Healey editions, its solid caseback is engraved with the image of a classic Healey automobile — on this model, it’s the Healey 100S N0J393 — and an individual serial number. Completing the package is the brown calfskin leather strap with contrast stitching and perforations inspired by vintage racing gloves.
Tissot Heritage 1973 Chronograph
Price: $2,100, Case Size: 43mm, Thickness: 14.8mm, Lug to Lug: 47mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic ETA Valjoux 7753
Released in 2019, the Heritage 1973 is a motorsport-inspired chronograph whose retro design hearkens back to the Tissot Navigator, a watch worn in the 1970s by Swiss Formula One driver Loris Kessel. Tissot worked with Kessel’s son and his racing team to produce this modern homage, whose expanded, cushion-shaped 43mm steel case boasts an array of high-end finishes and a sharp, black-and-white “panda”-style dial bordered by a black tachymeter scale on its periphery. The front crystal is scratch-resistant sapphire, while the back exhibition window uses a more period-appropriate mineral glass to showcase the automatic integrated chronograph caliber inside, with its golden rotor engraved with a Tissot logo. The black calfskin strap with racing-style perforations is a reproduction of the original.
Breitling Top Time Triumph Chronograph
Price: $5,500, Case Size: 41mm, Thickess: 14.27mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Automatic Breitling Caliber 23
In the 1960s, Breitling introduced the Top Time, an unconventional chronograph watch that was designed to capture the era’s “Café Racer” culture of stylish motorbikes and their youthful riders. In 2022, the Swiss watchmaker teamed with 120-year-old British motorcycle brand Triumph to produce the Top Time Triumph, distinguished by its two-register “bow tie” (aka “Zorro”) dial; the dial’s ice-blue hue is descended from a rare Top Time model from the 1970s (Ref. 815) and pays homage to the color of the Triumph Thunderbird 6T from 1951. The watch, launched alongside Triumph’s co-branded Speed Twin Breitling Limited Edition motorcycles, is also offered in an “Owners Limited Edition” version that can be customized by each of the 270 owners of the bike. The 41mm case features retro-style oversized mushroom chrono pushers and contains the Breitling Caliber 23, an ETA-based automatic movement with a 48-hour power reserve and a COSC chronometer certification.
Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph
Price: $5,790, Reference: 168589-3002, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 12.67mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic ETA Caliber 2894-2
Chopard’s decades-long partnership with the Mille Miglia series of classic car rallies has yielded a wealth of sharp, motorsport-inspired wristwatches at a more accessible price point than many of the manufacture's high-jewelry ladies’ watches and its higher-end L.U.C series. The Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph sports a dial with large, legible Arabic numerals, in a vintage font used on the dashboards of the historical cars that drive in the Mille Miglia races. Three snailed subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock tally the running seconds, chronograph hours and chronograph minutes, respectively. A racing-inspired tachymeter scale appears on the flange and a bright red Mille Miglia logo joins the date window at 3 o'clock. Two pump pushers flank the screwed crown on the round, steel case to operate the chronograph. The textured pattern on the black rubber strap, evoking the treads of Dunlop racing tires, carries on the rally-racing theme.
TAG Heuer Monaco
Price: $6,350, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 15.21mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Strap Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Automatic Heuer 02
The TAG Heuer Monaco made its debut in 1969 but really ascended to pop cultural icon status two years later, when legendary actor and “King of Cool” Steve McQueen wore the colorful wrist chronograph for his role as a racing driver in the 1971 movie Le Mans. The Monaco, named for the Monaco Grand Prix by its legendary creator, founding family scion and motorsport enthusiast Jack Heuer, was the first wristwatch with a square case that was also water-resistant, as well as one of the first chronograph watches to be equipped with a self-winding mechanical movement, the legendary Caliber 11. While the movement has changed — the latest models are outfitted with the in-house Caliber Heuer 02, with an impressive 80-hour power reserve — the iconoclastic square case, at 39mm, has remained largely the same, as has the dial, with its two squared chronograph subdials that make the watch recognizable from across a room.
Bremont Jaguar C-Type
Price: $6,495, Case size: 43mm, Thickness: 15.8mm, Lug to Lug: 49mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Bremont Caliber BE-50AV
Bremont, the world’s most quintessentially British luxury watch brand, pays tribute to one of Britain’s most recognizable luxury carmakers with the new Jaguar C-Type, the latest in its Jaguar series. The 42mm steel chronograph watch features a host of influences from the vintage roadster, which was renowned for both its racing performance (the “C” stands for “Competition”) and its elegant design. The anodized aluminum tachymeter bezel echoes the metal used for the car’s bodywork; the silver-plated bicompax dial has a subtly embossed vintage Jaguar logo; the red segment on the 9 o’clock sundial echoes the look of the C-Type’s original Smiths gauge; and the central chrono hand is in the style of the original car’s tachometer needle. The lugs are polished and the crown is engraved with a classical Dunlop tire tread pattern. On the solid caseback is a decorative coin depicting the Jaguar “Growler” hood badge in relief. The watch contains the automatic BE-50AV caliber, based on the tried-and-true ETA 7750, and fastens to the wrist with a tan leather strap with racing-style perforations.
Bell & Ross BR 03-94 Alpine F1 A521
Bell & Ross has released a fleet of automotive-inspired timepieces in its longtime collaboration with the Alpine Formula 1 Racing Team (formerly the Renault F1 team), most recently the BR 03-94 A521 edition, which takes its name from the A521 single-seater race car that team members drive and sports the distinctive “circle in a square” case design of Bell & Ross’ Instrument collection. The watch, the sixth in the co-branded series, has alternating polished and satin finishing on its angled case and unconventional “toggle” chronograph pushers designed to resemble the gear-shifting paddles on the steering wheel of a race car. The black, blue, and white colorway evokes the team colors of Alpine F1. The squared steel Instrument case has the hallmark four screws at the corners, and the bidirectional rotating bezel with anodized aluminum insert is inscribed with a competition-inspired 0-to-60-minute countdown scale. Inside the case, behind a sapphire window in the caseback, beats the automatic BR-CAL.301, based on the ETA 2894-2, with its 42-hour power reserve. The watch, limited to 500 pieces, is mounted on a ventilated strap made of black rubber and ultra-resilient synthetic.
TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph Special Edition
Price: $6,950, Case Size: 44mm, Thickness: 15.27mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber Heuer 02
Named for the Carrera Panamerica road race by its designer, founding family scion and former CEO Jack Heuer, the TAG Heuer Carrera made its debut in 1964 and swiftly became a trendsetter in the genre of motorsport-inspired chronograph wristwatches with its recessed subdials, minute-scale flange, and tachymeter bezel. Developed in collaboration with Posrche, TAG Heuer's longtime automotive partner, the Carrera Porsche Chronograph Special Edition adopts the classic tricompax design of the Carrera and adds some Porsche-inspired aesthetic details. Among the latter are the red Porsche inscription emblazoning the engraved black ceramic tachymeter-scale bezel; applied numerals in a Porsche dashboard font; a unique, asphalt-motif textured dial; and an overall color scheme in the classic Porsche colors of red, black and gray. The three black subdials feature red details and azurage centers. The 44-mm steel case contains a specially modified version of the Heuer 02 caliber with a black rotor formed to resemble a Porsche steering wheel.
Omega Speedmaster Racing
Price: $8,450 - $28,200, Case Size: 44.25mm, Thickness; 14.9mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic Omega 9900
While it will forever be famed as the first watch on the moon, the Speedmaster, as per its name, was originally intended as a timepiece for racing drivers. The dial of the first Speedmaster from 1957 was designed to resemble the dashboard of that era’s Italian sports cars, and in 1968, on the cusp of the watch’s elevation from the racetrack to the rocketship, Omega doubled down on the automotive DNA by adding a motorsport-inspired “checkered flag” minute track on the dial’s periphery to complement the subdials and the tachymeter bezel. The Speedmaster Racing, launched in 2012, resurrects that vintage design, sporting a 44.25mm steel case with a matte black aluminum tachymeter ring on the bezel. The beveled hands and arrowhead hour markers also echo the 1968 watch’s design, alongside the well-placed orange details on the dial and bezel. The movement is Omega’s Co-Axial Master Chronometer Caliber 9900, an automatic with a column-wheel chronograph function and a power reserve of 60 hours. Like all Master Chronometer calibers, it features a co-axial escapement and a silicon balance contributing to its exceptional 15,000 Gauss magnetic resistance.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition AMG
Price: $9,350, Case Size: 43mm, Thickness: 14.8mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 60 meters, Movement: Automatic IWC Caliber 69385
IWC marries its rich aviation heritage with its more recent auto-racing collaborations — in particular, its partnership with Mercedes-AMG, which began in 2004 — to produce the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “AMG,” the first model in the collection to use grade 5 titanium for its case and the first to be outfitted with IWC’s manufacture Caliber 69385, a high-performance horological engine whose column-wheel chronograph function measures up to 12 hours of elapsed time. The watch’s motorsport inspiration can be seen most clearly on its dial, made of woven carbon fiber and produced in the manner of AMG’s aero components to achieve its distinctive “textile structured” look. The silvered chronograph subdials and bold white numerals evoke an instrument panel on a motorsports dashboard, and the case’s matte gray surface treatment is inspired by the “Selenite Grey Magno” paint finish used on AMG cars. The watch completes its high-octane look with an embossed leather strap with contrast stitching and a dial-matching carbon-fiber-style pattern.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph Aston Martin Limited Edition
Price: $21,400, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 12.01mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber GP03300
Girard-Perregaux kicked off a partnership with British luxury automaker Aston Martin in 2021. One of the first timepieces to spring from the collaboration is the Laureato Chronograph Aston Martin Limited Edition. The watch’s bright green dial draws its historical inspiration from the colors assigned to distinguish the nationalities of international racing teams in the 1900s — specifically the “British Racing Green” adopted by British teams that has become a hallmark of the Aston Martin marque. The tricompax dial also features a cross-hatched diamond pattern first used on Aston Martin’s “AM” logo of the early 1920s, a motif still used for the quilted seats of Aston Martin high-performance cars. Another subtle visual tribute can be spotted on the counterweight of the central chronograph seconds hand, which resembles the side strakes introduced on the famed Aston Martin DB4 from 1958. The watch’s 42mm steel case with emblematic octagonal bezel integrates into a finely finished steel bracelet. Inside, Girard-Perregaux’s in-house automatic Caliber GP03300-0141 serves as the micromechanical engine.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
Price: $35,900, Case size: 40mm, Thickness: 11mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Rolex Caliber 4130
In 1962, Rolex became official timekeeper of the Daytona 500, and one year later it released the Ref. 6239 Cosmograph, nicknamed the “Daytona,” its now-famous racing-inspired chronograph watch. The watch was notable for its three-register dial and engraved tachymeter bezel. The Daytona, named after the famous racetrack in Florida, was first launched in 1963 and has been produced in various versions ever since, forever linked to the high-performance world of motorsport and consistently one of the most coveted watch models in the world. This version, released in 2021, features an 18k white-gold case and an intriguingly textured dial made of metallic meteorite. Each meteorite dial is interwoven with crystallized surface patterns that make it unique from all others and impossible to replicate. The tachymeter bezel is made from Cerachrom, a durable, virtually scratch-proof material patented by Rolex; other patents abound throughout the movement, the in-house, COSC-certified Caliber 4130, which beats inside and amasses a 70-hour power reserve.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Huracán
Price: $50,000, Case Size: 45mm, Thickness: 13.3mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Automatic Roger Dubuis Caliber RD630
Roger Dubuis teamed with Italy’s Lamborghini Squadra Corsa to develop a series of high-octane, motorsport-influenced timepieces, with Lambo’s braintrust even contributing their technical savoir-faire to the movements. The Excalibur Spider Huracán boasts one of these proprietary movements as well as a rubber strap designed in cooperation with the Genevan watchmaker’s other motor-racing partner, Pirelli Tires. Roger Dubuis’s Caliber RD630, beating inside the watch’s 45-mm titanium case, is heavily skeletonized and equipped with an innovative, 12º tilted balance wheel, a honeycomb structure reminiscent of Lamborghini grilles built into the mainplate; and a hexagonal date window at 6 o’clock (hexagons are omnipresent in Lamborghini design) with speedometer-style numerals. The inclined sprung balance has been repositioned at 12 o’clock for maximum exposure on the front of the dial, along with a strut-bar-shaped bridge that echoes those on the V10 engine of the Huracan “supercar” for which the watch is named. The identifying elements of the Roger Dubuis “spider” case design include the overmolded black rubber inserts and fluted bezel; on this model, the fluted crown resembles a wheel nut, adding an additional automotive detail. The watch is mounted on a bi-material strap with a black rubber base stitched to a gray Alcantara inlay that evokes the velvety-soft interior of a Lamborghini cockpit.
Richard Mille RM 029 Le Mans Classic
Price: $176,000, Case Size: 40.1mm x 48.15mm, Thickness: 13.1mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Automatic Richard Mille Caliber RM057
Richard Mille became the timekeeping partner of the Le Mans Classic, the world’s most famous racing event for historical cars, in 2002, and has released a series of limited-edition timepieces over the years to celebrate the relationship. The eighth and most recent came in 2021: the RM 029 Automatic Le Mans Classic, whose high-tech case features a sporty green-and-white-striped colorway. The tonneau-shaped case, measuring 40.1 mm by 48.15 mm, combines a middle part milled from a single block of Quartz TPT and mounted on a white, vented rubber strap. The front bezel is in green Quartz TPT, and its hallmark white, double Le Mans stripes are made from separate, inlaid pieces of white Quartz TPT. A Le Mans checkered flag emblem in the signature colors appears on the sapphire dial between 6 and 7 o’clock. A 24-hour display in a the 4 o’clock sundial pays a subtle homage to the historic rally event, with a blue arrow pointed at its traditional 4 o’clock start time. The back bezel incorporates a barrel-shaped sapphire window to show off the movement, Richard Mille’s skeletonized, self-winding Caliber RMA57.
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