Racing cars and watches have always been an interesting combination, having more in common than meets the eye. Both mechanical in nature and the result of amazing craftsmanship and engineering, cars and watches share similar bits of history.
Back in the days, when racing drivers had no electronic way of measuring their lap times, they resorted to chronographs and tachymeters that they strapped to their wrists.
Over time, watchmakers from all over the world were influenced by the automotive industry, and started incorporating the much needed features of the racetrack into their designs, plus some lovely little extras borrowed from racing car aesthetics. That’s how the racing watches were born.
Today, with all the modern and super accurate timing systems and technologies, the racing watch has moved from being a much needed tool on the racetrack to a nice to have, great looking timepiece, that pays homage to the racing days of old.
Despite the uselessness of a chronograph with tachymeter scale in the modern electronic world we live in, we can’t deny their appeal and racing heritage.
For those who still have the racing bug, here are the 20 best racing watches of 2023. We tried to include both affordables and high-end options in this list, so there’s a little bit for everyone here. Enjoy!
- 20. Tissot Supersport
- 19. Seiko X Giugiaro SCED057
- 18. Autodromo Group B Series 2
- 17. Oris Williams F1 Team Skeleton
- 16. Yema Speedgraf
- 15. Oris ChronOris
- 14. Giuliano Mazzuoli Manometro
- 13. Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic
- 12. Reservoir Supercharged Sport
- 11. Meccaniche Veloci Quattro Valvole Modificato A
- 10. Raidillon 41-CIC-301
- 9. Nomos Autobahn Neomatik Datum
- 8. Porsche Design 1919 Chronotimer Sport Chrono
- 7. Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control
- 6. TAG Heuer Monaco x Gulf Automatic
- 5. Giuliano Mazzuoli Contagiri Steel
- 4. Roger Dubuis Excalibur Huracan Black
- 3. Icon Duesey
- 2. Singer Reimagined Track1 Emirates Edition
- 1. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
20. Tissot Supersport
With its vintage racing inspired aesthetic and masculine sized case, the Tissot Supersport Chrono is a perfect match for those with a weakness for large, bold watches and fast cars.
Its design boasts sharp edges and straight lines, with plenty of details that give depth to the rich dial. The 45.5 mm stainless steel case hides a Swiss quartz movement and gives it a 100m water resistance rating.
The bezel features a tachymeter scale that is a perfect fit with the rest of the sporty design. The dial looks wonderful with its three large sub-dials and 6 o’clock date window below the sapphire crystal glass. The brown leather strap compliments the rest of the watch, rounding off the serious sporty look.
19. Seiko X Giugiaro SCED057
The result of a collaboration between Japanese watchmaker Seiko and the Italian design house Italdesign Giugiaro, the Seiko X Giugiaro SCED057 is an interesting timepiece aimed at motorcycle riders, with its dial turned 15 degrees clockwise and tilted 5 degrees inside.
The design choice to turn and tilt the dial is supposed to improve readability while riding a motorcycle. The piece is powered by a Seiko 7T12 quartz movement, encased in a 43mm case with a water resistance of 100m.
The watch is not overly stylish, but it certainly has its flair.
18. Autodromo Group B Series 2
The Autodromo Group B Series 2 features a minimalist overall design that puts the 80’s rally racing inspired dial in the spotlight.
Looking more like a racing car dash gauge than your traditional watch dial, the Group B looks good enough if you’re an automotive enthusiast. Paired with the integrated steel bracelet, it sure makes for a nice sight.
The Miyota 9015 automatic movement inside is also something that gives it value, especially since it’s priced below the $1,000 mark.
17. Oris Williams F1 Team Skeleton
At first glance, the Oris Williams F1 Team Skeleton might not even give you the feeling it’s a watch, with its bizarre dial.
But when you take your time to really understand what the Swiss watchmakers in collaboration with the Williams F1 team have done there, it’s impressive. The watch certainly has that racing vibe to it, with its skeleton center dial that shows a little bit of the Oris calibre 733 automatic movement that powers the watch.
Adding to the beauty of the design is the inner rim with date numerals and the black outer rim for the hour and minutes.
16. Yema Speedgraf
Powered by a rare Seiko NE86 automatic movement and having an elegant dial design with a sporty attitude, the Yema Speedgraf is a racing watch worth taking into consideration.
It looks retro and comes with all the little details that give it the racing feel, without being too much. The case is only 39mm and should be pleasant and comfortable to wear on smaller wrists.
15. Oris ChronOris
The contemporary variant of the Oris ChronOris first introduced back in 1970 is a stunner. Available both in a Chronograph and a Date version, the ChronOris comes with twin crowns at two and four o’clock, for time setting and the other for operating the chronograph.
Inside the 39mm stainless steel case there’s a Swiss Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement with a power reserve of 38 hours and 4Hz frequency. Under the double domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal glass sits a nice black dial with rose gold accents.
14. Giuliano Mazzuoli Manometro
The Giuliano Mazzuoli Manometro watch is a bizarrerie, but one that fascinates both the Tuscan craftsmanship fans around the world and those who haven’t heard of the name before.
Inspired from a simple pressure gauge, the Italian timepiece, Manometro, has been launched back in 2004, and its latest embodiment comes with a brushed bronze finish and blue, ivory, green, white or black dial.
Designed in Italy and made in Switzerland, the Manometro makes for a stunning sight.
13. Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic
Frederique Constant partnered with the Austin Healey Club to create the Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic, a limited edition self winding chronograph that pays homage to the British sports car manufacture of old.
The latest incarnation of the timepiece celebrates the 2018 European Healey Meeting and gets its inspiration from the elegant automobiles of the 1960 decade.
The watch comes in a 42mm stainless steel case with white chronograph counters, red chronograph hands, and silver toned hands and markers on a superb deep green. Paired with a green leather racing strap, it makes for a gorgeous sight.
12. Reservoir Supercharged Sport
The Reservoir Supercharged Sport has reinterpreted what a watch dial can be. Drawing inspiration from dashboard gauges, it’s probably the closest representation you can find in a watch.
The piece comes with a 0 to 60 minute three-quarter long outer rim and a retrograde minute hand which jumps back to 0 when it reaches 60, mimicking the likes of a real speedometer. The hour is shown at the bottom of the minute rim, in a window. Below the hour window, there’s the power reserve indicator, which looks exactly like an analog gas level indicator present in older cars.
Despite not having a chronograph, the Reservoir Supercharged Sport is probably one of the most interesting designs when it comes to racing watches.
11. Meccaniche Veloci Quattro Valvole Modificato A
Another interesting addition to the racing watch world is the Meccaniche Veloci Quattro Valvole Modificato A, which features not one, but four smaller dials which represent automobile gauges.
Each dial comes with its own rotating crown for time setting and its various options. Inside the huge 49mm case, there’s a in house MV8802 mechanical self-winding movement.
10. Raidillon 41-CIC-301
The Raidillon 41-CIC-301 from the Belgian watchmaker Raidillon brings forward a modern design, an idea of Belgian product designer Axel Enthoven.
The timepiece features a 41mm case with a flat side on the right and jagged crown and a brushed metallic dial that make for a firm, yet elegant look.
9. Nomos Autobahn Neomatik Datum
The Nomos Autobahn Neomatik Datum is a subtle and elegant take on the automobile gauge inspired watch design.
The timepiece features a track of lume from eight o’clock to four o’clock which looks like a highlighted speedometer and a date window at the bottom which resembles a car’s odometer.
A Nomos DUW 6101 automatic movement comes encased in a 41mm case with a water resistance rating of 100m.
8. Porsche Design 1919 Chronotimer Sport Chrono
With the designer of the iconic Porsche 911 behind the Porsche Design watch brand, the 1919 Chronotimer Sport Chrono benefits of all the great engineering that makes Porsche cars so good.
The watch features a Porsche Design caliber WERK 01.100 and looks its best in titanium with black coating.
7. Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control
Drawing inspiration from the world of classic cars, the GTS Power Control is the result of Chopard being a long time partner of the Mille Miglia Italian road race.
The 43mm piece features a COSC certified automatic movement with a deep blue dial and bezel that look impressive paired with a blue perforated calfskin strap. Interesting details such as the fuel gauge style of the power reserve indicator and the date window in the form of the Mille Miglia logo reveal the racing heritage of the watch.
6. TAG Heuer Monaco x Gulf Automatic
TAG Heuer is well known for their race themed timepieces as the brand was a regular presence in the racing scene of the past century.
Their Monaco watch was made famous by actor Steve McQueen who wore it in the 1970 film Le Mans. The Monaco x Gulf Automatic is a homage to the original versions of the watch, powered by the groundbreaking TAG Heuer Caliber 11 automatic movement and sporting the Gulf stripes and logo and the livery that McQueen wore in the film.
5. Giuliano Mazzuoli Contagiri Steel
Another intriguing timepiece from the Italian watchmaker Giuliano Mazzuoli is the limited edition Contagiri Steel.
It comes with a speedometer-like style dial, with hour numerals spread at 270 degrees, from the normal eight o’clock to the four o’clock position and an hour hand that jumps back to the start after it has completed a 12 hour run.
The dial is original, with only essential lines and a simplicity that leaves room to elegance, without becoming flashy. The watch serves as a reminder of Giuliano Mazzuoli’s race driver past.
4. Roger Dubuis Excalibur Huracan Black
One of the biggest names in the watchmaking world, Roger Dubuis teamed up with the legendary designers at Lamborghini Squadra Corse to design some of the most amazing racing-inspi timepieces.
The most recent of them, the Excalibur Huracan Black, comes in a black DLC coated titanium case and a dial inspired by the design of the Italian supercar it was named after.
The angled balance wheel, the rotor inspired from a Huracan wheel and the bridge that reminds of a strut bar from a V10 engine all give the watch a unique style.
3. Icon Duesey
Icon Duesey looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before. A creation of well known auto restorer Jonathan Ward, the watch draws inspiration from the art deco style of the Duesenberg SJ.
It features a dial with two windows for the hour and minutes, which spin behind on rotating disks, resembling the SJ’s “drum style” tachymeter. The ETA 2892 automatic movement with the Dubois-Depraz jump hour module is housed inside a 42mm titanium case, with a superb polished Onyx stone on the right side as its crown.
2. Singer Reimagined Track1 Emirates Edition
The Singer Reimagined Track 1 Emirates Edition brings a novel take on the traditional styled chronograph, with a central chronograph display and peripheral time display.
Coming in a 25 piece limited edition, the watch features a 43mm ceramic aluminum case in a matte black main color with gold touches and a superb khaki dial and strap for stunning contrast.
1. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is a legendary timepiece named after the Daytona International Speedway. The chronograph is a trophy given for winning the challenging 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race and has been worn by many iconic racers during the past, among which the famous Paul Newman.
The watch has been through a redesign several years ago, but still keeps true to the style and the heritage of its earliest iterations.
The all steel piece comes with a Rolex 4130 automatic movement inside a 40mm case with a water resistance rating of 100m, and with the stainless steel bracelet that Rolex has used us with, making for a stunning and unmistakable style.
These are our favorite 20 racing watches for 2023. From intriguing designs, inspired by car gauges, to legendary timepieces worn by famous racing drivers who made history on the racetrack, there are options to fit just about any style of driving enthusiast out there.