09.12.2021 - Uncategorized

10 Best Luxury Racing Watches

Luxury watches and the motor racing industry have a longstanding history that dates back decades. Racing cars have always depended on accurate timekeeping to monitor time, speed, laps and distance and the luxury watch industry revolutionised the way in which this was recorded. Though most racers no longer use a wristwatch while actually racing, the style and popularity of these timepieces is stronger than ever. From race track to wrist, our racing watch guide covers everything including what is a racing watch, the key features of a racing watch and our top 10 motor racing watches.

What Is A Racing Watch?

When it comes to racing, timekeeping is fundamental. And as its name suggests, a racing watch is a purpose built timepiece used to measure race times. Typically used for motor racing, a racing watch can be used for motorbike, horse and yacht racing as well.

Watches have been used to record accurate racing times since as far back as the late 19th century, where horse-drawn carriage races were timed using pocket watches. While motor racing and watchmaking have both evolved in terms of their technology and innovation, racing watches are just as integral to the sport and racing culture today as they were back then.

Not only are racing watches influenced by the design of a car with the use of sporty straps and dials inspired by a car’s dashboards but they also feature a chronograph to track time and distance, and a tachymeter to measure speed. Let’s take a look at some classic features of a racing watch.

Racing Watch Features

Chronograph

A chronograph is a watch with a stopwatch function. Ideal for accurate timekeeping during races, a chronograph can be used to measure elapsed time, using a single or two separate pushers to start and stop the sweeping second's hand. The stopwatch can be started, stopped, and returned to zero at the push of a button without affecting the watch's main function. 

Tachymeter Scale

Typically seen on watches with a Chronograph, a Tachymeter is a type of watch complication used to measure the speed at which the watch’s wearer travels over a fixed period of time. The speed on a Tachymeter is usually measured as units per hour in miles or kilometres and the scale can be found marked around the outer part of the dial or inner bezel.

High-Contrast Dial

Most racing watches feature a high-contrast dial which improves the legibility of the watch dial including the visibility of the second hand and chronograph. This is so that even if the driver is going at a high speed, they are still able to clearly read their watch even at a quick glance.

Rally Style Straps Or Metal Bracelets

Traditional vintage racing watches feature a rally-style strap made from durable material such as rubber or leather. The straps would typically feature perforated holes, taking inspiration from the steering wheel and leather driving gloves. The perforated holes also improve breathability and airflow between the drive and the watch, especially while wearing racing gear. That being said, most modern racing watches feature a metal bracelet made from either stainless steel, titanium, gold or platinum. 

Top 10 Motor Racing Watches

Now that we have a better understanding of what a racing watch is and its history, let’s take a look at our top 10 favourite racing watches and watches inspired by the motor industry.

  1. Rolex Daytona

The Rolex Daytona is possibly the most famous racing watch of all time. Named after the Daytona International Speedway in Florida, the Rolex Daytona was introduced in 1963 as a racing chronograph for those with a passion for driving and speed. The Rolex Daytona bezel features a tachymetric scale to read average speed over a given distance based on elapsed time, which helps meet the demands of professional racing drivers. The tachymetric scale provides excellent legibility, making the Daytona the ideal instrument for measuring speeds of up to 400 units per hour, either in kilometres or miles. The Chronograph function can be activated by pushers that screw down. With one press to start, stop or reset, the Chronograph has a crisp and clear click that Rolex has perfected to provide an instantaneous and accurate start to the timing. Every year, the winner of the 24-hour race in Daytona receives a Rolex Daytona with an engraved case back in honour of their achievement, solidifying that the Daytona has become one of the most popular and sought after watches in history.

  1. Tag Heuer Carrera

The Tag Heuer Carrera is an iconic sports watch designed for professional drivers as well as sports car enthusiasts. Introduced in 1963, the Tag Heuer Carrera takes its inspiration from the well known and world’s most dangerous car race the "Rallye Carrera Panamericana". Jack Heuer first heard of the "Rallye Carrera Panamericana" while at the Sebring International Raceway in Florida in 1962. He got chatting to the parents of the successful racing drivers Ricardo and Pedro Rodriguez and they told him of the legendary yet dangerous car race Carrera Panamericana. The young entrepreneur then set out to develop the Tag Heuer Carrera and introduced the series to the world in 1963. The watch was an instant hit among both racing drivers and people who were simply interested in motorsports. Featuring refined indexes and hands that are designed to catch the light, the Tag Heuer Carrera is super easy to read even at full speed. With parallel and elongated lugs that feel solid and sturdy on the wrist as well as a metal crown, the Tag Heuer Carrera has an elegant yet sporty feel. 

  1. Chopard Mille Miglia Gts Power Control

To celebrate 30 years of partnership between Chopard and the Mille Miglia Italian open road race for vintage cars, Chopard launched the Mille Miglia GTS Power Control Grigio Speciale. In a range of sleek grey colours accentuated by the red detailing on the dial, this contemporary watch can easily be worn day and night. The dial is inspired by the dashboard of a car, further emphasising Chopard's connection with the racing industry. Crafted to mould the curve of the wrist to perfection, the Mille Miglia GTS Power Control presents an ultra-light case in titanium with a 43mm diameter and embodies the Chopard Spirit of the Gentleman Driver. Sporty and robust, this watch is even popular amongst celebrities including the likes of Ryan Reynolds

  1. Hublot Classic Fusion Ferrari Gt

Introduced in 2019 the Hublot Fusion Ferrari GT was designed in collaboration with Flavio Manzoni – the head of the Ferrari design team. Available in titanium, King Gold, and a special polymer matrix composite called 3-D carbon, the Ferrari GT is 45mm wide and uses Hublot's in-house UNICO HUB1280 flyback chronograph movement. Featuring an openwork Chronograph, the Hublot Fusion Ferrari GT pays homage to the luxury sports car industry with its range of sleek and modern dials as well as the iconic Ferrari horse. With a redesigned and more compact calibre, the Hublot Fusion Ferrari GT follows Hublot’s famous philosophy - ‘Art of Fusion’. Though the watchmaking and racing industry will forever be fused together, Ferrari and Hublot’s prolific partnership has since come to an end.

  1. Omega Speedmaster Racing

Before it became known as the “Moonwatch” the Omega Speedmaster was originally designed as a racing watch. Launched in 1957 the Omega Speedmaster was one of the first Chronographs to have a tachymeter scale engraved on the bezel instead of on the dial, which provided better legibility. Although a variety of Omega Speedmasters models exist, the Omega Speedmaster Racing models are the ones with a devoted connection to the racing industry. With many distinguishing features that define the Omega Speedmaster Racing as a racing watch including a Chronograph, bezel with tachymeter scale, perforated leather racing strap and a dial featuring a checked racing-style minute track, this timepiece includes all the key components of a traditional racing watch. There are also two subdials with blackened applied rings as well as a 6 o’clock date window that blends with the colour of the dial. The hands are a mix of varnished orange and white, while the arrowhead indexes are 18K white gold with white Super-LumiNova. Featuring a sapphire crystal case back the METAS-certified Co-Axial Master Chronometer 9900 automatic chronograph movement is displayed beautifully through the case back.

  1. TAG Heuer Monaco

Tag Heuer racing watches were the timepiece of choice for many racing drivers during the 50s, 60s and 70s and in 1971 the infamous Steve McQueen chose the Tag Heuer Monaco as his watch of choice in the movie Le Mans. Named after the Monaco Grand Prix, the TagHeuer Monaco watch made its debut in 1969. The Tag Heuer Monaco was the world’s first water-resistant automatic chronograph with a square case. Traditionally featuring a winding crown on the left side of the square case and two Chronograph pushers on the right side as well as a circular minute track on the square dial and two subsidiary dials and a date window, the Tag Heuer Monaco has a truly distinct design. Although this timepiece has gone through several innovations and design changes, the Tag Heuer Monaco still remains one of the most recognisable watches of modern times.

  1. Cartier Roadster Chronograph

While the Cartier Roadster Chronograph is no longer in production it is still a favourite amongst watchmaking and motor racing enthusiasts. Introduced in 2001, the Cartier Roadster takes its inspiration from vintage 1950s and 1960s sports cars. Although it can be argued that the Roadster is more of a dress watch than a racing watch, it certainly takes inspiration from the motor industry. From the windshield inspired magnification lens over the date and winding crown designed after a tire to the speedometer style dials and aerodynamic tonneau case, the Cartier Roadster Chronograph is most definitely designed with car enthusiasts in mind. Available in stainless steel, two-tone, yellow gold, rose gold, and white gold cases as well a variety of case sizes the Cartier Roadster Chronograph is ideal for both men and women.

  1. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Michael Schumacher

Audemars Piguet and Formula One racing driver Michael Schumacher formed a partnership in 2010 and in 2012, Audemars Piguet launched the Royal Oak Offshore Michael Schumacher in honour of their collaboration. The brand then began work on their second watch with Michael Schumacher, but the design process was put on hold when in 2013 Michael was seriously injured during a skiing trip. The highly anticipated Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Laptimer watch was finally released in 2015. The Royal Oak is an advancement of the double Chronograph, which has two stopwatch hands. Its most prominent racing watch feature is that it can finish timing a lap while beginning to time the next. This can be achieved by the press of a single button. In addition to the Laptimer Chronograph, this Royal Oak also features double central second hands, flyback, 30 minutes counter, small seconds, hours and minutes. Featuring a carbon case, curved glare-proof sapphire crystal, titanium case back and titanium bezel, the Laptimer is the ultimate luxury timepiece.

  1. TAG Heuer Formula One

No list of racing watches would be complete without mentioning the Tag Heuer Formula One. Originally launched in 1986, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 was the first watch that marked Heuer's acquisition by Techniques d'Avant Garde (“TAG”). Tag Heuer and Formula One’s connection began in the 1970s when Heuer was working with Williams F1 and then McLaren F1 to develop the Porsche 1.5-litre turbo engine that powered the McLaren-TAG cars in 1984 and 1985. The first Formula 1 was an analogue, quartz-only watch available in several bright coloured variants that revitalised the watch industry. There are now multiple variations of the Tag Heuer Formula One available that are ideal for a range of tastes and styles. Built for speed, this sports watch has been worn by a vast array of Formula One legends and even features a metal bracelet with driver extension to fit over the sleeve of a racing suit. The highly shock resistant Formula One timepiece is the ideal racing watch of choice for anyone with an active lifestyle.

  1. Jaeger LeCoultre AMVOX

Jaeger LeCoultre and Aston Martin began their wristwatch collaboration in 2004 when they produced a line of Jaeger LeCoultre AMVOX timepieces. The relationship between Jaeger LeCoultre and Aston Martin dates back to the 1920s when Jaeger designed the dashboard instruments of Aston Martin’s first racing cars. The AMVOX name is inspired by two things. Firstly, the ‘VOX’ part of the AMVOX name, is a reference to the Memovox of the 1950s, which featured a revolutionary alarm function. Secondly, the ‘AM’ is a nod to the involvement of the legendary car manufacturer Aston Martin. The AMVOX watch itself takes direct inspiration from the classic Aston Martin car. Featuring a 40mm stainless steel Amvox Alarm and 270-degree dial calibration designed to echo the corresponding pattern on vintage Aston Martin speedometers, the Jaeger LeCoultre AMVOX is a standout racing watch.

Now we’ve taken a look at our top 10 iconic racing watches, why not bag a luxury timepiece for yourself. Browse our collection of used and pre owned luxury watches.

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