Timing is everything in the world of racing, and in a sport where victory can be determined by milliseconds, precision is key. It’s no surprise then that the universes of watchmaking and motoring have been so closely associated for decades.
Unlike diving or aviation watches, these race-inspired watches can veer towards the flashier side, though more conservative car enthusiasts are also enjoying a surge in less jazzy options today. The rugged yet stylish aesthetics — often inspired by a particular car — are now applied to classic designs, giving old favourites a new lease of life.
In the spirit of speed, racing, and a rambunctious amount of noise and fumes, here are the best race-inspired watches to celebrate Singapore’s iconic Formula One night race with.
Those still invested in the era of vintage sports car motor racing will appreciate Bremont’s MKII Black timepiece. Taking cues from 1960s’ Jaguar sports cars – obvious from the Jaguar heritage racing logo at the 6 o’clock position – the watch’s details, such as the hour markers, resemble the numerals on the E-Type instrument dial. The automatic watch boasts a power reserve of up to 42 hours, with racing chronograph functions in the form of a 30-minutes counter and seconds sub-dial at three and nine o’clock respectively.
Limited to 500 watches, the IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Sport is a clever exercise of both form and function. Inside, the 89361 Calibre heralds from the 89000-calibre family, now synonymous for its powerful chronograph movements with flyback function. The tough sportiness of motor racing is conveyed via its substantial 44-millimetre titanium case, black dial and black calfskin strap, and — as an Easter egg — the small seconds hand at 6 o’clock that’s shaped like a bolt of lightning serves to remind its user of the watch’s anti-magnetic properties.
Named after the city that’s made motor racing the prestigious sport that it is today, the TAG Heuer Monaco continues its legacy 50 years later with the limited edition Calibre 11. The watch first made waves for having two world firsts under its belt: Being the first automatic chronograph and the first water-resistant timepiece with a square case.
While it’s seen plenty of variations, this 169-piece Monaco special stands out by rendering its iconic square face with a deep crimson hue, accented only by silver and black accents throughout. At the back, the ‘80s-inspired accessory is engraved with the original “Monaco Heuer” logo, alongside other commemorative details.
Bugatti makes one of the most technically complex cars out there, so imagine translating this aptitude for engineering and design into a timepiece. Parmigiani Fleurier has done just that for the past 13 years — since the Veyron-inspired Type 370 watch — and continues to celebrate this partnership today.
The Type 390 first made the news simultaneously with its inspiration — the Bugatti Chiron — in 2016. Its newest version, however, takes cues from the Chiron Sport. Like its predecessors, time is driven by an unconventional movement architecture, with a dial that’s tilted for easy reading when you are — presumably — driving the above-mentioned car. Technical excellence is achieved here with stacked layers of gears and bridges, part of which can be seen through the watch’s side and skeletonised dial.
As the official timekeeper of the Mille Miglia open-road endurance for more than 30 years now, it was only natural that Chopard brought its legacy to the forefront with special edition timepieces annually. This year, its 2019 Race Edition pays homage to the classic Italian car race with a 44mm steel iteration.
Reflecting the dogged determination and panache that these drivers exude, the watch sees a snailed grey dial with a legible chronograph functionality for easy reading. The self-winding chronograph movement within is COSC-certified chronometer, and offers a two-day power reserve with remarkably accurate short time measurements.