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Racing Inspired Watches: Our Top Picks

It’s impossible to think about racing watches without iconic racing legend and actor, Steve McQueen coming to mind. Wearing the TAG Heuer Monaco watch strapped tightly to the wrist whilst creating the film “Le Mans” (a fictionalized account of the real 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race) helped cement TAG Heuer’s relationship with auto racing and motorcycles, leading to the Monaco watch becoming a trend-setting timepiece with a cult-like following. It sparked an interest in luxury sports watches all over the world from the likes of Breitling and Omega to Longines and Oris.

One great thing about going in search of the perfect racing-inspired wristwatch is that you’ll have far more choice over exotic colours and vivid sporty-inspired design finishes, as well as a varied selection of materials to ensure robustness and performance are guaranteed. Since racing watches are not bound by uniformity, they are much flashier and eye-catching than those of general sports watches. Whilst some racing watches work well with smart professional attire, others will look out of place when paired with a business suit, so it’s important to identify what your needs in a racing watch really are. Are you wanting your racing watch to create a bold statement and stand out against a suit? Or are you looking for a timepiece that will transform racing inspired aesthetics into something slick and sophisticated by night?

Luxury racing watches today are defined not only by their technical ability, but also by their dashingly good looks and their handsome, chiselled physique, embodying the expertise involved in the manufacture of a racing car itself and mirroring a speed-hungry aesthetic. This style of wristwatch is not bound by uniformity, moreover their exotic colours and adrenaline-infused designs allow the wearer the flexibility to express character on the arm. Attributes of a racing watch include, but are not confined to the following characteristics:

1) Chronograph: With two or three counters on the dial – often in contrasting colours to enhance visibility – the chronograph feature on a racing watch includes a stop/start pusher to operate the sweeping seconds hand, some of which feature a flyback function for resetting and starting a new timing with one simple push of a button.

2) Tachymeter scale: Allowing the wearer to record speed based on time travelled over a fixed distance, the tachymeter scale is an indispensable tool for implementing into the design of a racing watch. Not only does it enhance a sporty look but the conversion of elapsed time, in seconds per unit, to speed in units per hour is made incredibly easy.

3) High-contrast dial; Easy to read at high speeds and with just a quick glance of the dial, racing watches often boast a high-contrast dial which enhances the visibility of features like the sweeping seconds hand and the chronograph counters.

4) Rally style straps: No racing watch looks complete without the addition of a rally-inspired strap crafted from a durable material like rubber or leather. Perforated holes on the surface of the strap were a key feature during the 1950’s and onwards, enabling the skin to breathe under the watch when wearing racing gear. More racing watches are now presented on metal bracelets crafted from stainless steel or lightweight titanium for long-lasting wear on the wrist.

One of the reasons why timekeeping and the motorsport industry are so inseparable is down to the dependency of high accuracy needed on the tracks. Manufacturers like Rolex and Omega remain with their commitment anchored firmly where their roots began – at a time when creating watches for recording lap times, race times and other data was in the highest demand ever. Watch connoisseurs who collect racing watches are still looking for a timepiece that delivers the same performance whether worn for driving purposes or not. Similar to the popularity of the TAG Heuer Monaco, after motoring enthusiast and actor Paul Newman sported the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona upon his wrist in the 60’s, it gained an almost cult-like status, spawning a dedicated fan base of motorsport enthusiasts, businessmen and style-conscious individuals alike.

Here’s a run down of some of our favourite racing-inspired watches and why each of them make for such a practical sports watch:

The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 01 45mm Aston Martin Special Edition Watch is a timepiece that brings a touch of speedy, racing-inspired aesthetics to the wrist. Tying in with their links to the motorsport industry, the Aston Martin watch is powered by one of the most widely used in-house developed movements by TAG – the Calibre 01. Sitting behind a black honeycombed dial, the movement performs at 28,800 vibrations per hour and provides a 40 hour power reserve whilst encased inside a 45mm fine brushed and polished steel case with a steel and rubber crown. The TAG Heuer Carrera collection harkens back to 1963 when Jack Heuer developed this special timepiece as a tribute to the Carrera Panamericana auto race A sapphire glass caseback shows off the movement complete with special Aston Martin decoration. If you’re a gentleman who likes his racing, this TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 01 Aston Martin watch brings together the strength, sweat and speed of the racetrack with a finely tuned engine of the very highest quality.

View the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 01 45mm Aston Martin Special Edition Watch here

The Tissot V8 Alpine watch is also inspired by racing cars and celebrates the long-standing relationship between the Swiss watch manufacturer and Alpine. The 1960’s inspired design features a beautiful carbon dial with striking blue and black chronograph dials. A blue tachymeter scale is applied to the bezel, sealed with an anti reflective and scratch resistant sapphire glass lens for granting a clear view into the dial without any undesirable effects from the sun’s glare. A perforated black leather strap with blue contrast stitching encloses the wrist with a refined butterfly clasp and push buttons, allowing you to pair the watch with a smart dinner suit or work attire. This Tissot sports watch is powered by a quartz movement which provides accurate time inside a robust 42.5mm stainless steel case. The features on the dial include; 30-minutes and 1/10 of a second counters, central 60-seconds chronograph hand, and ADD and SPLIT functions.

View the Tissot V8 Alpine 42mm Special Edition Men’s Chronograph Watch here

The Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Unico Titanium 45mm watch is a limited edition timepiece of just 1000 pieces worldwide and features a lightweight titanium bezel along with a matching titanium case that secures around the wrist with a black Alcantara strap adorned with red stitching and satin finished titanium clasp. The powerhouse for this iconic design is that of the in-house built UNICO movement, complete with a flyback chronograph for enabling you to stop, reset and start a new timing with one simple push of a button. The 100 meter eater resistant watch features a striking yellow date window at 3 o’clock and vibrant racing red shots of colour seen in the minute track and the 60 seconds dial. This Hublot racing watch is certainly for you if you like to combine fine Swiss horology with a stand-out-from-the-crowd aesthetic.

View the Hublot Big Bang 45mm Ferrari Titanium Men’s Automatic Chronograph Watch here

The Calibre 11 Monaco watch from TAG Heuer is one of the most popular models from the Monaco collection. Designed with this breath-takingly beautiful two tone blue and zesty orange striped dial, time is easily referenced whilst remaining faithful to the vintage aesthetics of the original 70’s Monaco model. Squared chronograph counters in white mirror the case’s profile, along with the date aperture at 6 o’clock, and with this orange and blue canvas style strap – this sports watch is sure to look the part whether worn with smart casual attire or a stylish suit. The piece de resistance of this TAG Heuer racing watch is the Calibre 11 movement however, which promises an impressive 40 hour power reserve and an effortless performance of 28,800 vibrations per hour, which can be viewed through a sapphire back.

View the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 39mm Gulf Edition Automatic Chronograph Watch here

Lastly, dressed in a striking red and black aesthetic, sport is a concept that is rarely associated with the SEVENFRIDAY universe, yet this unique timepiece is testament to the company’s ability to adapt their watchmaking skills to suit the needs of a whole new genre of watch-wearing individuals. This SEVENFRIDAY P-Series Racing Team Red watch features the brand’s archetypal square-shaped case and the familiar open worked dial that exposes elements of the Miyota 82S7 movement from within a gun metal PVD coated stainless steel case. Sunray and sun-blasted finishes on the bezel of this P-series watch makes the timepiece appealingly industrial-inspired as well as bold and sporty. Symbolic of the bond between man and machine, this SEVENFRIDAY racing watch with its carbon fibre interface and silicone and leather colour-coordinated strap, is the perfect sports watch for those seeking the thrill and speed of the racing track.