The recipe for manufacturing a high-performance racing car is similar to creating beautifully precise racing watches. Premium performance is, of course, key to both. Intricate parts must work together synergistically and in harmony with one another. Aesthetics must be balanced by performance, and above all, stamina.
Power must proceed against all the odds. We’ve compiled a list that takes you back through the key features of the eight best-racing watches from 2019. If you like your watches to be packed full of innovative features, and if a sporty style is a key to you, then this line up is the best place to start your research.
With perforated leather straps, high contrast dials for easy time referencing, and high tech materials for protecting the watch’s movement, these racing watches offer you plenty of gadgets to play around with. All this is combined with a performance that meets the highest demands associated with the racing car industry.
In this guide to the best racing watches, we’ll include everything from the iconic Omega Speedmaster watch to the Citizen Eco-DRV WDR and the old and attention-demanding Hublot Big Bang Ferrari watch. Read on to learn what functions make these watches such a highly collectible timepiece for any motorsport fan.
View The Best Racing Watches Below
1. Omega Speedmaster Racing Automatic Chronograph
The legendary Omega Speedmaster watch underscores the adventurous pioneering spirit of the brand. This 40mm stainless steel model features a stealthy black dial with guilloche textured sub-counters that display small seconds, 30-minutes and 12-hours. The bezel has been crafted from matt black aluminum and features a tachymetric ring.
An anti-glare sapphire crystal glass lens secures to the surface of this Omega Speedmaster watch, ensuring that the dial is protected from dust, debris, moisture, and light. Plus, it helps to lock-in an impressive water-resistant capability of 100 meters. Omega’s Co-Axial Calibre 3330is self-winding and provides a 52-hour power reserve.
+ 40mm robust stainless steel casing
+ Black chronograph dial with a date window at 6 o’clock
+ Powered by the Co-Axial 3330 caliber
+ Fitted on a stainless steel bracelet
+ A classic-looking chronograph watch
Why We Like It – This Omega Speedmaster racing watch can be paired with a smart jacket or a professional suit, thanks to its versatile and elegant black and silver-colored design.
2. Citizen Watches Men’s CA0649-06X Eco-Drive
This Eco-Drive sports watch from Citizen brings a subtle vintage-inspired look to the wrist, courtesy of an authentic brown leather strap with white contrast stitching, and a light brown colored dial. The retro-styled racing watch showcases chronograph counters at 12, 6, and 9 o’clock, together with zesty orange detailing and a date aperture nestled in between the oversized 10 and 20 number locations on the minute track.
Bold detailing further enhances a vintage vibe to this Citizen Eco-Drive watch, communicating beautifully with a black coated aluminum bezel with a tachymetric scale applied to its surface. Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology, powered by light, enables this watch to operate without ever needing a battery.
+ The energy is created by light power
+ A retro-inspired racing watch
+ Light brown dial with black and orange detailing
+ Features 1/5-second chronograph
+ Vintage brown leather strap with traditional tang buckle
Why We Like It – Nodding to the traditional beauty of 1950’s racing watches, this Citizen Eco-Drive model combines all the power and adrenaline associated with the track, with casual sporty elegance.
3. Hublot Big Bang 401.CQ.0129.VR Ferrari
Having been a part of Hublot’s catalog since 2012, the Big Bang Unico Ferrari is still loved on an international level and has a lot to offer within its sleek, adrenaline-fuelled design. This limited edition watch features energetic splashes of yellow against a black skeletonized dial. The display exposes parts of Hubtlot’s impeccable manual winding movement through the front view of the dial, as opposed to the back of the watch.
The Unico Ferrari model has great appeal. It features a 72-hour power reserve, a flyback function, a black leather strap with yellow contrast stitching down the sides, and a ruggedly handsome black carbon fiber bezel. It’s a limited edition model, so you’d be owning 1 of just 1000 watches built worldwide.
+ Polished and brushed black ceramic case
+ Limited-edition to just 1000 watches worldwide
+ Flyback function
+ 72-hour power reserve
+ Scratch-resistant sapphire glass lens
Why We Like It – If you’re looking for a racing watch that will create a huge wrist presence, this is for you. The bold demeanor of the carbon and ceramic Hublot Big Bang Unico Ferrari watch will impress on every level.
4. Invicta Men’s 26397 S1 Rally Quartz Chronograph
This analog quartz chronograph watch from Invicta is part of the Invicta S1 rally race team collection. Never compromising on performance, it features a 100-meter water-resistant stainless steel tonneau-shaped case, enveloping colorful detailing on its blue, red, and white display. The chronograph hands are decorated in a light blue and red color.
The tachymeter scale is in the same shade of blue highlighted around the periphery of the dial. This quartz racing watch is completed on a sport-infused white leather strap with blue and red detailed stripes. The Invicta men’s Rally Quartz watch has also been designed with a mineral glass lens and polished push-pieces down the side of the case, for effortless handling over the two chronograph counters.
+ Stylish retro-inspired tonneau-shaped case
+ White, blue and red dial design
+ Date/chronograph minutes and seconds
+ Powered by a reliable quartz movement
+ Blue tachymeter scale
Why We Like It – If you like your racing watches to exude a smart retro look but want it to retain all the key features of a modern-day chronograph model, this Rally watch will combine comfort and practicality while grabbing attention for all the right reasons
5. Seiko Men’s RECRAFT Series Stainless Steel Japanese-Quartz Watch
Stylish – tick. Sporty – tick. Chronograph – tick. Reliable movement – tick. This Seiko men’s RECRAFT watch, powered by an incredibly reliable Japanese quartz movement, features a sunray blue dial with sleek baton indexes that make referencing the time easy.
It’s perfect for on the racetrack; this Seiko racing watch will look the part. Its comfortable blue, black, and zesty orange NATO-style strap will provide around-the-clock comfort while you take care of breaking all those personal bests.
+ Chronograph counters / 24 hour indicator
+ Quartz movement for unparalleled accuracy
+ 100m water-resistant stainless steel case
+ Modern and stylish NATO style striped strap
+ Date window at 4:30
Why We Like It – The Seiko RECRAFT steel quartz Rally watch is the ultimate timekeeping tool for promising accuracy and functionality. Its comfortable design will deliver a huge wrist presence, paired with a handy 24-hour feature.
6. Breitling Bentley Super Sports E2736536/BB37-220S
As its namesake suggests, this automatic Breitling Bentley Super Sports watch has a light case body crafted from titanium, and it bears a broad diameter of 49mm on the wrist. Polished steel hands and indexes contrast beautifully against a classic black dial with green chronograph counter trimmings and a matching green slide rule bezel.
A sapphire crystal glass case back reveals the beautiful oscillating weight of the COSC-certified Breitling Caliber 27b automatic movement, which performs at a rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour, delivering a 42-hour power reserve. If you want the best out of your watch, Breitling’s in-house developed movement and innovative features make this automatic a great one for the racetrack.
+ Brushed titanium case for a lightweight feel on the wrist
+Sporty black rubber Breitling-embossed strap
+Green slide rule bezel and green chronograph detailing
+ 330 feet water-resistant capability
+ An automatic chronograph capable of measuring 1/4th of a second
Why We Like It – The Breitling Bentley Super Sports automatic watch boasts a gravity-defying case design equipped with unprecedented accuracy in the shape of its in-house automatic movement.
7. Ferrari Men’s 0830023 Race Day Analog Display Quartz Black Watch
This analog quartz watch from Ferrari comes clothed in sleek black and red tones. The chronograph sub-counters on the dial are reminiscent of a TAG Heuer Formula 1 watch. The 24-hour counter has been filled-in with a block color, as seen in the TAG Heuer racing models.
Aside from a date window at 4:30 and red filled central hands, the Ferrari Race Day analog Quartz watch is also sure to get you noticed, thanks to its bold black PVD coated stainless steel case, integrated with a 50-meter water-resistance. A black rubber strap, adorned with a vibrant red central strip running down the middle, completes this quartz watch perfectly.
+ Red and black chronograph dial similar to a TAG Heuer Formula 1 watch
+ Date window at 4:30
+ Mineral glass lens
+Black and red silicone strap with tang buckle
+ Reliable quartz powered movement
Why We Like It – As an alternative to an automatic model, this Ferrara timepiece is both affordable, practical, and, with a quartz-powered movement, can be dressed on and off the wrist whenever you desire.
8. Citizen Men’s Eco-DRV WDR Watch
The Citizen Eco-DRV WDR watch is one of our favorite models. Its design is equipped with details that look as though they were developed purely for racing drivers. Red accents are seen against a textured black chronograph dial, and a discreet date window is nestled in between the dark grey-silver counters, providing yet another practical feature but with an air of discreetness.
The broad 45mm steel case is completed with a matching steel link bracelet and a foldable clasp, as well as unique red-coated push-pieces at 2 and 4 o’clock on the side of the case. Powered by light energy, this Citizen Eco-DRV WDR is certainly geared towards those who want a racing watch that differs from the norm.
+ Eco-Drive technology
+ 45mm stainless steel case and bracelet
+ dark silver and red, sporty aesthetics
+ 100-meter water resistance
Why We Like It –This Citizen Eco-Drive watch is fuelled by light and so doesn’t require a battery. Perfect for accompanying you on the racetrack, it provides a chronograph and tachymeter scale, surrounded by sporty highlights.
Racing Watches Buyer’s Guide
The motor car industry has inextricable links with luxury watches. Steve McQueen – associated with motorcycles, cool leather jackets, and auto racing – chose the TAG Heuer Monaco when he set out to make the film, Le Mans. The Le Mans film is a fictional account of the real Le Mans 24 hour endurance race.
The TAG Heuer Monaco promised all the features you’d expect from a racing watch, including a strong and durable sapphire glass lens, an easily-readable dial, and a robust casing, albeit in a unique and dynamic square-shaped case for its time.
But TAG Heuer is not the only luxury watch associated with motorsport racing. Harking back to the 1930s, Rolex’s links, just like TAG, have also been tied with the racing car industry, sharing a passion for the racetrack as well as a commitment to precision.
Although racing car drivers may no longer rely on watches like the Heuer Monaco to actually keep track of their own lap time, racing watches, from Rolex for example, have remained collectible and desirable. Understandably, these watches have played an integral role in assisting the racing car driver in the past.
Facilitating easy recording of lap times and other measurements through their refined chronographs, Rolex racing watches, just like TAG Heuer, have certainly helped shape the history of the car racing industry and, of course, Swiss timekeeping. The Rolex Daytona is the Swiss company’s staple racing chronograph.
Paul Newman favored the Rolex Daytona, and thus it becomes easy to see how the relationship between watches and motor car racing has blossomed over the years. The two are almost inseparable in many ways, both mirroring craftsmanship excellence, precision, and endurance. Racing watches have undoubtedly earned their place on the wrists of some of the world’s most influential icons.
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is an automatic that has remained in a genre of its very own since the first Cosmograph Daytona launched in 1963. Its tachymetric scale, on a Cerachrom bezel, and three sub-counters, effortlessly handled by polished pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock on the case, are the defining features of the Rolex Cosmograph.
Elapsed time is displayed in hours, minutes and seconds on the dial of this automatic model. It’s also capable of measuring up to 400 units per hour. The Cosmograph Daytona is governed by the caliber 4130 – one of Rolex’s most innovative automatic movements to date. Having set benchmarks in racing watches of the past, the Rolex Cosmograph remains a timepiece that many other watch companies can only aspire to craft in the future.
What is a racing watch?
In 1894 when the “Competition for Horseless Carriages” took place, it was plagued with issues due to a lack of precision timekeeping. By looking into these problems and also listening to the needs of the professional racing car driver, Rolex began manufacturing watches that would combine stylish aesthetics, robust materials, also superb accuracy. The Rolex Oyster was worn on the wrist of Sir Malcolm Campbell, when he reached the land speed record four times, spurring Rolex on to create the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona.
The Mille Miglia, an endurance race established in 1927 by Counts Francesco Mazzotti and Aymo Maggi, inspired several watchmakers to create watches for precision timing on the tracks. The Mille Miglia 2019 Race Edition by Chopard took its name from the Mille Miglia race. It fused elegant retro looks with a state-of-the-art automatic movement in a limited edition model.
What are the key characteristics of a racing watch?
1) Chronograph: Racing watches with chronograph dials are commonly presented in vibrant, zesty colors to enhance that distinct sporty feel that so many collectors love about this style of watch. A stop/start pusher will also enable you to operate the sweeping hands.
Some sporty chronograph racing watches feature a flyback function that allows you to record another time with one simple push of a button, rather than stopping, resetting the timer and starting it all over again.
2) Tachymeter scale: Recording speed based on time is an integral tool for any professional or amateur racing driver. It’s also often seen integrated into the design of a racing watch. It not only enhances a distinctly sporty look, but it also makes converting elapsed time in seconds per unit, to speed in units per hour all the easier.
3) High-contrast dial: Every racing driver needs to be able to reference the time quickly and effectively when taking to the race track. It’s a combination of a high contrast dial and bold indexes, often treated with luminescent material that enables the wearer to read the time. The sweeping second hand and chronograph dials are also commonly seen highlighted by a vibrant hue.
4) Rally style straps: Crafted from durable materials, a rally-style strap, in either leather or rubber, is frequently equipped to a high-performance racing watch. Holes in the surface of a rally strap were brought in during the 1950s.’ It stuck with the iconic look and feel of a luxury wristwatch for racing.
For an alternative to a material strap, there are also several motorsport-inspired timepieces developed on a rugged stainless steel bracelet. They come with links that effortlessly mold to the shape of the wrist, enabling the watch to double up as a sophisticated statement piece for those occasions when you plan on joining friends at the bar after a session in the gym. Others are crafted from titanium for a lightweight finish on the arm, and you can also choose from several NATO-style straps that exude a masculine, sporty look.
Did You Know?
The expertly developed Omega Speedmaster watch was initially created for motorsport racing before it was worn on the wrist of Walter Schirra during his trip into space as part of the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission in 1962.
Whether you enjoy the classic look of the Omega Speedmaster – a design instantly recognizable thanks to its desirability and status within the Swiss luxury watch world – or something technical-looking. One example being the more affordable Citizen Eco-Drive timepieces, you’re certain to find a racing watch that provides you with the key features you need to know.
Remembering the characteristics of a true motorsports watch will ensure you don’t go far wrong when preparing to part with your money. A watch with tachymeter bezel, chronograph functions, a sporty rubber strap, high contrast dial, and a robust weather-hardy case are starting points for when you search for “the one.”
With such a wide variety of watches for the motor industry out there at the moment, color, sizes, and materials can be tailored to suit your every need. Figure out whether you want a lightweight titanium model, or whether you enjoy the rugged feel of a solid and ultra-masculine stainless steel watch on your wrist.
Do you sway towards the look of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona or prefer watches like the TAG Heuer Formula 1 watches collection, with detailing inspired by the dashboard of a racing car? Find a size that won’t swamp your wrist, but that’s also is boastful and confident enough to get people asking questions about it.
And always consider whether you need to display all the features of a racing watch, or just some. Living with a cluttered dial if you’re in favor of minimalist, clean watches can be a hard decision to live with. Most of all, enjoy growing your collection of racing watches.