Racing cars and motorsports have greatly influenced the luxury watch industry. Racing drivers need accurate timekeeping to monitor distance, speed, and laps, all of which a luxury watch can easily record. Though most race car drivers prefer not to use a wristwatch any longer, the demand for racing watches remains strong.
If you’re a racing enthusiast and need some serious recommendations, our list will help you get a grip. However, before we go into the details, let’s share some details for those new to this.
As the name suggests, a racing watch is for race car drivers. It is a purpose-built timekeeping tool which combines various important features. Whether it is a motorbike, car, or yacht race, the racing watches are a perfect companion, remarkable in innovation and technology.
A Chronograph is a timepiece which has a stopwatch function. These watches are ideal for precise timekeeping functions during races as it helps to measure the elapsed time. There are single or two separate pushers to start and stop the moving second’s hands. You can stop, start, and return to zero by pushing a button without tampering with the main function.
The dial of a racing watch looks similar to a car’s dashboard. Most racing timepieces have a contrast dial which enhances the watch’s legibility, including the visibility of the chronograph and second hand. This means that even if the driver is driving at high speed, they can easily and clearly read the watch at a glance.
A Tachymeter is a watch complication that helps to measure the speed. The scale is present around the dial’s outer part or inner bezel. You can measure the speed as units per hour in kilometres or miles.
The strap of a racing watch gives the ultimate finishing touch to the timepiece. They derive inspiration from leather driving gloves or the steering wheel featuring perforated holes. It improves the airflow between the wearer’s wrist and the watch. Today, most modern racing watches come with stainless steel, gold, platinum, or titanium bracelet.
Now that we have a better understanding of what a racing watch is and the various characteristics that make it so special let’s look at our favourite options.
To inaugurate the list, we have the Rolex Daytona, one of the world’s most famous chronographs. It quickly gained popularity after coming to life in 1963 as a racing chronograph. The timepiece derived its name from the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. The Rolex Daytona is for every car enthusiast who loves speed and driving.
The watch features a highly legible tachymeter scale to track the speed over a certain distance based on the elapsed time. You can measure speeds of up to 400 units/ hour with the tachymeter scale, either in miles or kilometres.
All Daytona models come in a 40mm case with chronograph pushers and screw-down crowns. You can get this gorgeous timepiece in 18ct gold (Everose, yellow & white), platinum, and two-tone steel and gold.
The popularity of the Rolex Daytona is so high that you can only avail of them in the secondary market. Unfortunately, getting a Daytona in ceramic and stainless steel (Ref. 116500LN) is increasingly difficult, even in the pre-owned luxury watch market.
Related: The History of Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Most of you know the Omega Speedmaster as the ‘Moonwatch’. But did you know that originally this watch was the brand’s first racing watch? Born in 1957, the Omega Speedmaster was the first racing timepiece with a tachymeter scale on the bezel and not on the dial. The watch dedicates itself to motorsport drivers and offers better legibility.
The sporty Racing Master Chronograph watch has a 44.25 mm case size available in 18ct Sedna Rose gold or stainless steel. One of the most striking features of the Omega Racing timepiece is the ‘Racing dial’, which has a characteristic checkered-flag minute track. It draws its inspiration from the 1968 Speedmaster watches. Additionally, two sub-dials with black outer rings enhance the functionality and appeal.
You can also see the METAS-Certified Co-Axial Master Chronometer 9900 movement through the sapphire crystal case back. As with racing watches, the Omega Speedmaster is available with either a leather strap or metal bracelet.
While many consider Cartier the King of Jewellers, the brand is equally capable of making chronographs that serve the purpose. The Roadster is one such model that the manufacturer no longer makes but has a huge following in the market. You can try your hands in the pre-owned luxury watch section to get one of these desirable timepieces.
Cartier launched the Roadster Chronograph in the 2000s by taking a little inspiration from the sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s. So, expect to see a few over-the-top elements on the watch face. The brand takes many cues from the cars, whether the windshield-like date magnifier lens, the winding crown, aerodynamic tonneau case or the speedometer-style dials. The Roadster is a cult favourite for its various astonishing features. Also, do not miss the headlight-designed cavities!
The Cartier Roadster is a sporty timepiece ideal for both men and women. You can avail of them in gold cases (yellow, two-tone, rose & white) and various case sizes.
When talking about the most loved racing timepieces, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore holds a very special place on our list. It all started when Formula One racing driver Michael Schumacher collaborated with AP in 2010. In 2012, AP came out with its famous Royal Oak Offshore Michael Schumacher to mark the partnership.
The Royal Oak stands out not just with its appeal but also with its characteristics. For instance, the two stopwatch hands make it the Double Chronograph. Another prominent feature is that the watch can finish a time lap while starting to time the next one. And you can do this by pressing a single button. You can also find a 30-minute counter, double central seconds’ hands, flyback, small seconds, minutes, and hours. There’s a titanium case back, a carbon case, a titanium bezel, and a curved sapphire crystal.
The AP Royal Oak truly looks like the ultimate luxury racing timepiece and is a special treat for lovers of racing watches.
Related: Audemars Piguet celebrates ‘Royal Oak’s’ 50th Birthday!
Of all the watch brands and watches named so far, the Tag Heuer has one of the most longstanding histories in making racing watches. The list includes Carrera, Monaco, and Autavia. Monaco got its name from the Monaco Grand Prix and made its debut in 1969. As expected, the watch didn’t take much time to secure its place on the favourite racing watch list.
The Tag Heuer Monaco is the world’s first automatic chronograph with a square case and water-resistant properties. And after the watch’s association with Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans, it became one of the most celebratory racing timepieces. A signature feature of Monaco is the presence of the winding crown on the left side of the square case and the placement of the duo chronograph pushers on the right. The watch has an easily recognisable square dial with two subsidiary dials, a circular minute track, and a date window.
Over the years, Monaco has welcomed various changes, and the winding crown is now typically present on the case right. Even the pushers are now at the left and the dial with a few more facial changes. However, what remains unchanged is Heuer Monaco’s signature style and the market demand.
The Tag Heuer Formula One is a racing watch built for those with an active lifestyle. The Heuer Formula 1 perfectly captures the brand’s essence with a bold appearance and sporty aesthetic, which appeals to racing enthusiasts. Coming out in 1986, the Tag Heuer Formula 1 was the first timepiece to represent Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG)’S acquisition of Heuer.
The brand’s connection with Formula 1 began when the former worked with McLaren F1 and Williams F1 to build the Porshe 1.5 litre turbo engine powering the McLaren-TAG automobiles. The first variant of Formula 1 was a quartz-only analogue watch. Over the years, the Swiss watchmaker has released various variations to meet all styles and tastes.
The watch has incredible shock resistance, and many Formula 1 legends have worn it to increase its popularity.
Panerai is another most highly-coveted luxury watch brand known to create outstanding watches with an unmistakable quirk factor. Even though they mostly indulge in making extra-large timepieces, the brand has tucked away some of the best chronographs in the archives.
For instance, the Panerai Luminor Chrono Daylight featuring a 44mm luminor case, tachymeter metal bezel and an oversized crown beautifully depicts its signature style. The dial with three sub-dials, a date complication and luminous Arabic numerals provides high legibility, making it a top choice for racing drivers.
Panerai is a brand that lures customers with its luxurious chronograph choices, and the 44mm Luminor Chrono seals the deal for them.
All the watches listed above just scream cool racing vibes. If racing drives you, the watches will only fuel up your journey. Do any of the timepieces mentioned above fancy you? If yes, you can check out the world of pre-owned luxury watches to get yours. Believe us when we say that there is a racing piece for all. You just need to find out the right one!
Check out The Luxury Hut’s amazing collection of assorted pre-owned luxury timepieces from various iconic watch brands. You can surely bag yours from there!