Petrolhead, gearhead, or otherwise motorsport obsessed? These watches are for you Petrolhead, gearhead, or otherwise motorsport obsessed? These watches are for you

Petrolhead, gearhead, or otherwise motorsport obsessed? These watches are for you

Buffy Acacia

The thing about being a watch nerd, like with being any kind of nerd, is that the nerdiness rarely confines itself to one area. It’s more like a way of life, and watches are just one channel through which we funnel our obsessive energies. It just so happens that many watch nerds tend to share similar interests, and they can all be linked to watches in one way or another. For fans of motorsport, the crossover is obvious. Not only do watch sponsorships play a fairly large role in the business side of race teams, but the two fields also share a thirst for performance, high-tech development, and vintage nostalgia. If you want to cross the streams, here are some of the best watches to choose.

TAG Heuer Monaco

TAG Heuer Monaco 39

When it comes to TAG Heuer, it’s really dealer’s choice for the best racing watch. Almost all of their models have motorsport running through their very DNA, ever since Heuer’s first dashboard chronograph back in 1911, and their first wrist-worn chronograph for drivers in 1914. Their legendary status as we know it today was born in the ‘60s however, and although the Carrera, the Formula 1, and the Autavia could all take this spot on this list, I believe that the Monaco is the most iconic. Released in 1969, this automatic chronograph with its signature square case and subdials commemorates the Monaco Grand Prix – one of the most challenging and prestigious motorsport events of all time. It was also made famous by Steve McQueen in the ‘70s film Le Mans, and then somewhat recently as a symbolic gift in Breaking Bad. In any case, if you turn up to any racing event with a Monaco on your wrist, you’ll probably be able to spot a few more. Price: A$11,700

Breitling Top Time Triumph

Breitling Top Time Triumph

It’s easy for people to jump straight into F1 when discussing motorsports, as it is debatably the pinnacle of racing on four wheels. But, two-wheelers are unjustly ignored so often. Even if you’re not into the sheer thrills of MotoGP, motorbikes offer a personal connection with their riders which cars can never hope to achieve. This edition of the Breitling Top Time is another reinterpretation of a 1960’s chronograph, now honouring the baby-blue colour of a Triumph Thunderbird 6T bike from 1951. Besides the Triumph logo proudly echoing the Union Jack, the hourglass split of blue tones and the black squircle subdials provide a firmly vintage personality. Combine all of that with Breitling’s long history of racing chronographs, and you’ve got a beautiful yet unusual watch for a motorsports fan. Price: A$10,890

Yema Rallygraf Meca-Quartz Reverse Panda

Yema Rallygraf Meca Quartz Reverse Panda

If you’ve got a limited budget but don’t want to sacrifice heritage, then the Yema Rallygraf Meca-Quartz Reverse Panda is a great solution. A Yema Rallye was famously worn by Mario Andretti when he won the 1969 Indy 500, a watch that he’d actually purchased himself. This modern version is a relatively faithful reissue of that watch with a few tweaks, but of course complete with the crossed chequered flags on the dial. The mechaquartz movement offers a sweeping central seconds hand even though it’s powered by a battery, retaining some of the old-world user experience with contemporary affordability. It’s also available in a range of punchy colours if you don’t want to go down the vintage-worship route that’s so prevalent among racing watches. Price: US$369

Omega Speedmaster Super Racing

omega speedmaster super racing nato strap

No matter what form of racing you prefer, it’s the stopwatch which decides the winner. Even someone crossing the chequered flag first can be overturned if they receive a time penalty, so timing is what matters most. The Omega Speedmaster is easily one of the most famous racing watches of all time, even if it’s remembered more for the lunar missions, but it’s the recent Speedmaster Super Racing which really puts the pedal to the metal. I’m not saying that the watch runs fast, but it’s one of the most accurate watches that Omega have produced thanks to their Spirate System which guarantees accuracy within -0/+2 seconds per day. The watch itself embraces the high-tech angle with a black honeycomb dial and highlights of yellow, with a chequered pattern of minute markers calling back to the older Speedmaster Racing models. Price: A$19,300

Autodromo Group B Safari

Autodromo Group B Safari

Nothing strikes as much awe and fear into the heart of a retro racing fan than the words Group B. For a few short years in the 1980s, some of the most ferociously quick rally cars were built for this spec, and it was rightfully scrapped when both driver and spectator casualties continued to grow. Even with that morbid and dark history, for many fans of rallying, Group B was a golden era. The Autodromo Group B Safari celebrates the design language of those boxy, turbo monsters, in a titanium case which echoes the lightweight sentiments of rally engineering. The deep green colour and the simplicity of its dial and case design make it extremely alluring, although there are other colour and complexity combinations should you prefer. This watch is also the only non-chronograph on the list, making it a great option if you just want the pure flavour of racing without pretending you actually need to time anything. Price: US$1,650

Rolex Daytona

Rolex Daytona 2023

It’s difficult to talk about any list of truly iconic watches, especially ones connected to racing, without talking about the Rolex Daytona. Though it was known by different names back in its pump-pusher infancy (be it Le Mans, Cosmograph, or Daytona), it has become the ubiquitous grail watch, some of its appeal surely thanks to its heritage as a racing tool. Named after what is arguably the most famous race track in America, the Daytona was first introduced in 1963, around the same time when Rolex became the official timer of the race. Though not always a collectible model, the Daytona’s desirability skyrocketed in the last decade, most notably thanks to the US$17.8 million sale of Paul Newman’s Paul Newman. Whether you’re into hype watches or not, the impact and importance of the Daytona cannot be overlooked. Price: starting from A$24,250