WATCHES AND CARS

Need for Speed: 15 Watches Inspired by Auto Racing


The worlds of watchmaking and automobile racing have shared a strong connection for decades, with racing and high-performance cars often serving as a direct inspiration for watches, including classic models like the Rolex Daytona and TAG Heuer Carrera, which both turned 50 in 2013. Below we take a look at 15 watches with designs influenced by motorsports.

1. Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Shelby Cobra Limited EditionBaume & Mercier Clifton Club Cobra - front

The showpiece of the 2017 Baume & Mercier’s Clifton Club collection is the Shelby Cobra CSX2299 Limited Edition — the latest timepiece borne of the brand’s partnership with the Carroll Shelby Company and the first to debut within the Clifton family. The watch draws its inspiration from the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe (CSX2299), one of the most iconic cars in the history of American motorsports. The Daytona Coupe was the first American car to win, in 1964, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and brought America its first GT class World Sportscar Championship in 1965. More details about the watch in this article.

2. Blancpain L-Evolution Super Trofeo

2012 Blancpain L-Evolution Super Trofeo
2012 Blancpain L-Evolution Super Trofeo

As a partner with Lamborghini in the all-Lambo Super Trofeo auto racing series, Blancpain produces a line of Super Trofeo watches in its L-Evolution collection. The 2012 Blancpain L-Evolution Super Trofeo watch has a flyback chronograph and incorporates materials found in Lamborghini cars, including carbon fiber in the case and dial and alcantara leather for the strap. Lamborghini also designed a Blancpain-branded Lamborghini Super Trofeo race car.

3. Breitling for Bentley Supersports Chronograph

Breitling for Bentley Supersports Chronograph
Breitling for Bentley Supersports Chronograph

As part of its Breitling for Bentley series, Breitling introduced the Breitling for Bentley Supersports Chronograph, a limited-edition timepiece made as a tribute to the Continental Supersports, the fastest and most powerful Bentley car ever manufactured, and holder of the world ice speed record. The watch features a “dashboard-style” dial in Royal Ebony, with either blue, orange or white-ringed subdials and inner bezels. The bezel, designed in the style of Bentley dashboard controls, activates a variable tachymeter which measures average speed no matter how much time has elapsed, how much distance is covered, or how high a speed is reached. For more on the watch, and to see different dial colors, click here.

4. BRM BT-12 46 Gulf

BRM BT12 46 Gulf watch

Inspired by the Gulf Oil-sponsored racing teams of the 1970s, and the iconic Porsche 917 driven by Steve McQueen in the racing film Le Mans, the BRM BT-12 46 Gulf has an in-house manufactured case carved from a single block of titanium and finished with a complement of six precision bolts. The design of the case, which measures 46 mm in diameter, is evocative of a Moto GP engine and contains a modified ETA Valjoux 7753 chronograph movement. The dial features the familiar orange-and-blue Gulf logo, whose colors are also echoed on the strap, made of actual seatbelt material from a racecar.

5. Chopard Superfast Chrono

Chopard Superfast Chrono
Chopard Superfast Chrono

 

The Chopard Superfast Chrono comes in 45-mm-diameter case, and is powered by Chopard’s automatic Calibre 03.05-M. The silver-brushed vertical lines against the black background of the dial resemble the cooling fins on air-cooled racing engines, while the rubber strap has a smooth tread pattern, resembling the slick tires used for high-speed-track motor racing. The watch also features a tachymeter scale along the bezel. More on the Chopard Superfast watch collection here.

6. Graham Silverstone RS Endurance 24HR

GRAHAM Silverstone RS Endurance 24HR

The Graham Silverstone RS Endurance 24HR boasts a monopusher movement with a double chronograph function for measuring 24-hour race and lap times. The main measurement of minutes and seconds is operated by the stop-start-reset chrono pusher at 2 o’clock with an inset red rubber catch, while an additional red pusher at 4 o’clock activates a secondary chronograph with a 24-hour counter and flyback function. Together, the dual timekeeping system is ideal for timing endurance racing and simultaneous test drives. Motorsport-inspired elements are also abundant on the dial, case and strap: the striped date disk recalls a race track’s red and white kerbing edges, the seconds counter is shaped like a car’s disk brake, and tire-tread-patterned black rubber with red insets is used for the strap.

7. Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Titanium Carbon

Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Titanium Carbon
Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Titanium Carbon

Hublot launched its collaboration with Italian sportscar icon Ferrari in 2012. The partnership has already produced some memorable timepieces, including the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Titanium Carbon (BB FTC), which features Hublot’s now-famous red sapphire crystal and is powered by Hublot’s in-house HUB 1241 Unico movement. The BB FTC is a flyback chronograph, and features a Ferrari-red central chronograph hand, and a subdial at 3 o’clock to record up to 60 elapsed minutes. The carbon fiber bezel is also manufactured in-house by Hublot; both titanium and carbon fiber are materials commonly used in high-performance automobiles. Click here to read more about the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari collection.

8. IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium

IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium
IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium

IWC‘s Ingenieuer line was revamped in 2013 (and again this year), and inspired by the brand’s partnership with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One racing team. The IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium has a titanium case and bezel, and also has a titanium crown, crown protector, and push-buttons, all of which are then coated with rubber for a better grip. The watch has a  chronograph mechanism (chosen for its usefulness in Formula One racing) with a split-seconds hand that can be used to record two intermediate times within a given minute while the blue- or white-tipped chronograph hand continues to run. When the push-button at 10 o’clock is pressed again, the split-seconds hand instantly catches up with the chronograph hand and runs synchronously with it again. As a result, the user can record as many lap times — important for determining pole position in an automobile race — as he chooses. The IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium retails for $12,700. Click here for more details.

9. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme W-Alarm Aston Martin

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme W-Alarm Aston Martin
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme W-Alarm Aston Martin

Jaeger-LeCoultre marked the 100th anniversary of British luxury automaker Aston-Martin, a partner for nearly a decade in the development of special, luxury-auto-inspired timepieces, with the release of several new watches. The Master Compressor Extreme W-Alarm Aston Martin, containing  Jaeger-LeCoultre’s automatic Caliber 912, combines a world-time display with a mechanical alarm function. The 46.3-mm-diameter case combines titanium and stainless steel and has a special logo, created by Aston Martin for its centennial, engraved on the caseback, while the black dial has a surface treatment evoking the grill on an Aston Martin car. The Master Compressor Extreme W-Alarm Aston Martin is limited to 100 pieces and has a price of $17,800. Click here for more on this and other Jaeger-LeCoultre Aston Martin watches.

10. Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370 Mythe

Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370 Mythe

The Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370 Mythe, released to celebrate 10 years of the Parmigiani/Bugatti partnership, takes its cues from the “engine block for thew wrist” aesthetic of that original Type 370 watch, including its unprecedented “transverse tubular” movement design, which assembles the plates and gears along a horizontal axis rather than a traditional vertical one. The case is designed in “driver’s watch” style, in which the time display is lateral in order to be seen easily by a driver with both hands on the wheel. The design of the tilted dial and the unusually shaped 18k rose gold case is based on an iconic Bugatti style element, the famous Type 57 grille, which was used on some of the earliest Bugatti automobiles. For more on the watch, click here.

11. RM 011 Flyback Chronograph

Richard Mille RM 011 Flyback Chronograph
Richard Mille RM 011 Flyback Chronograph

Richard Mille also drew inspiration from materials used in Formula One cars for the RM 011 Flyback Chronograph, the first watch with a case made of brown silicon nitride. The silicone nitride in the watch is exceptionally hard (1,500 Vickers) and is highly resistant not only to wear and corrosion, but also to severe temperature variations. It is also very lightweight, which is why it is used in the automobile industry to make parts such as valves and turbocharger rotors. The watch is equipped with Richard Mille’s automatic caliber RMAC1, updated to include a flyback chronograph mechanism. More on the watch and its material here.

12. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

5oth Anniversary Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
50th Anniversary Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

At Baselworld 2013, Rolex unveiled a 50th anniversary edition of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, which gets its name from the famous racetrack. This “prestigious edition” of the watch, priced at $75,000, is the first Daytona with a platinum case. Its tachymeter bezel is made of Rolex’s Cerachrom material. The wearer can use the tachymeter scale, in conjunction with the chronograph, to measure average speeds of up to 400 miles (or kilometers) per hour. Click here for our report on the watch from Baselworld 2013.

13. TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 36 Chronograph Flyback

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 36 Chronograph Flyback
TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 36 Chronograph Flyback

TAG Heuer celebrated the 50th anniversary of the iconic Carrera with the release of several new TAG Heuer Carrera watches. The design of the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 36 Chronograph Flyback is influenced by vintage TAG Heuer stopwatches, with the seconds displayed on a large scale along the outer rim of the dial. The watch also features a Zenith El Primero movement. More on the watch here.

14. Tissot PRS 516 Extreme

Tissot PRS 516 Extreme
Tissot PRS 516 Extreme

The Tissot PRS 516 Extreme is based on a motorsport-inspired Tissot timepiece from the 1960s but adds some contemporary touches. The smooth lines of the case evoke the bodywork of modern automobiles and the details on the dial and bezel echo those on car dashboards. The strap has a racing-stripe design with a honeycomb pattern reminiscent of an automobile’s ventilation system; there is also a version available that has the original model’s famous bracelet, with cut-out circles illustrating the steering wheels of racecars. The automatic movement, visible through a clear caseback, powers a chronograph and date display.

15. Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969 SVRA Edition

Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969 SVRA
Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969 SVRA

Zenith entered a partnership with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA), becoming official timekeeper for its series of 16 races across the U.S.A. in 2016. In honor of this new relationship, the brand launched a special edition of its Chronomaster 1969 luxury sports watch at the 2016 Baselworld watch fair. The Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969 SVRA Edition features an SVRA logo on its silver-toned dial and is equipped with the brand’s legendary, high-frequency El Primero chronograph caliber. The watch, which comes in a 42-mm stainless steel case and includes a tachymeter scale around the dial, comes on a black alligator leather strap with rubber lining and yellow stitching echoing the SVRA colors. Limited to just 100 pieces, it is priced at $9,000.

This article was originally published in 2013 and has been updated.

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32 Responses to “Need for Speed: 15 Watches Inspired by Auto Racing”

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  1. George vlassis

    For me this is a watch that love to have what a beautiful time piece number one caliber in the world el primero since 1969

    Reply
  2. Mick Asbridge

    Good selection, but as an enthusiast I would have liked to see something representing Porsche in the collection. Keeep up the good work. M

    Reply
  3. Albert Kotzé

    A basic requirement for a racing chrono is that elapsed time should be readable in an instant. A number of these watches fail miserably in this regard because during assembly it slipped someone’s mind that there is no dial!

    Reply
  4. Ian Woollard

    The Tudor PRS 516 Extreme looks like a Breitling watch

    Reply
  5. Crazy prices for way over designed mechanical watches. Vintage classics are a better value and hard to beat quality wise. The Zenith is the least offensive to my eye.

    Reply
  6. My choice would be the Hanhart PRIMUS Racer Dark
    The inspiration by motosport is unmistakable!

    Reply
  7. Nick Houston

    Leaving out the Omega Speedmaster Professional is unforgivable! Greatest tool-watch ever…

    Reply
    • Exactly. But it’s old school and a classic, unlike most of the watches shown here.

      Reply
  8. Jack T

    You’re right, no Speedmaster is a glaring omission. That aside, on looks alone, I’d lean toward the Chopard.

    Reply
  9. Mike – you got good taste , i agree the Autodromo Stradale is far more eye candy than these busy bodies.

    Reply
  10. RM Phillips

    I’m somewhat surprised that there is no connection mentioned between Chopard and Jacky Ickx. M. Ickx has been very involved with Chopard’s design of the Superfast Chronograph among other timepieces, the Mille Miglia comes to mind. Monsieur Ickx is also known as Monsieur Le Mans, as a side note. Very entertaining article regardless. Thank you very much.

    Reply
  11. If these are a little beyond your means…Fossil has a really nice chronograph called the Del Rey…it’s $155 with the leather band and $195 with the steel bracelet. At least look at it…good design does not need to be expensive.

    Reply
    • Timur Alpaslan

      I guess we’re not talking about Quartz watches! Let’s stay with mechanical/automatic ones.

      Reply
  12. No Oris, again? Why is Oris never on these lists? They have an entire line of motor sport watches.

    Reply
  13. All the watches are very nice. The italicised 12 on the Chopard is a turn off for me as is only having a 9 and 12 on the Blancpain. But I’m a proofreader and copy editor, so I get carried away with symmetry.

    As an Australian, I’d love to see an article on watchmakers of the USA (I know of Shinola and Hamilton), but would love to hear about the other … if there are any.

    Reply
    • WatchTime

      Zahit, thank you for your comment. The original version of our post appeared in October 2013 and has since been updated with new details. It seems like watches world probably wrote a post inspired by our October 2013 version?

      Reply
  14. Leonard Martinez

    I remember the first time I ever saw a Mille Miglia. I had an epiphany, and knew I’d have to own a Chopard one of these days. I have the Mille Miglia GT XL in silver with the reserve gauge that looks like a fuel gauge. The movement is a Valgranges. Now I want that Superfast, too, with Chopard’s new in-house movement.

    Reply
    • MrTissot

      WOW!! That’s great Leonard. I too have a Chopard Mille Miglia GTXL Power Control with white dial and with the Power Reserve display at the 6 o’clock position. It’s absolutely stunning and can be used as both a casual wearer or dress as I have it’s on the Dunlop Rubber Strap. Extremely accurate too!!

      Reply
  15. Brokenchains

    The IWC is nice but without a tachymeter scale, what good is it for timing race cars!!

    Reply
  16. The best value in this group factoring also real racing functionality and ease of use is the IWC ingenieur…split chrono/titanium materials…a real bargain at $12+ k

    Reply
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