The 10 Racing-Inspired Watches Your Wrist Deserves

Steve McQueen wore one. Paul Newman, too. Where’s yours?

May 4, 2017 9:00 am

Nowadays, it’s patently illegal to take your eyes off the road.

But back in the day, professional racers depended on their wristwatches: without them, there was no way a driver could gauge lap times or where he stood in a time trial.

And while you probably don’t need a motorsporting watch for practical purposes in 2017, they still exist, and they’re still among the most handsome timepieces a man can own.

Below, you’ll find 10 of the best, including two that were once worn by Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, respectively. While some have been updated to incorporate current trends and technologies, we can assure you none of them will ever go out of style.

Limited Edition Brian Redman DLC Prototipo
Named after one of the most prolific motorcar drivers of this age, only 50 of these pieces were made. Like the other works in the Prototipo collection, this watch is inspired by vintage ‘60s and ‘70s racers, but also integrates accents directly from Redman’s Porsche Salzburg 908. Comes with a Redman-signed booklet and in a special collector’s box. ($775)

Limited Edition Classic Car Club Timepiece
Created exclusively for the world famous automotive club, this Chopard timepiece is a 44.5mm case constructed of either steel, titanium or 18K rose gold with a self-winding mechanical movement, 46-hour power reserve, 25 jewels, a chronograph that measures hours, minutes, seconds, dates, and counters for 30-minute and 12-hour increments. The blue dial honors the official racing colors of America, and an emblazoned NATO strap makes it distinctive to the one-and-only Manhattan car club. Available at Chopard’s New York Boutique or CCC’s Pier 76 HQ. (steel, $7,130; rose gold, $22,240)

Chronomaster El Primero Range Rover Velar Special Edition
The second installment from an El Primero collaboration series between Zenith and Range Rover, this number celebrates the newest and fourth member of the Rover SUV family, the Velar. Lightweight and fitted with a custom aluminum case, it functions with a high-beat movement of 36,000 vibrations per hour (VpH). And the strap’s calfskin is of the same fine Scottish leather they use for Rover interiors.

The Chronoris Date Automatic
A 1970 revival, the Chronoris was the first motorsport watch from one of our favorite Swiss watchmakers. It’s appropriately race-styled, with a versatile 39mm stainless steel case and dial, Superluminova-coated center hands, date window, date corrector, fine-timing device and stop-second function. A retro classic reborn. ($1,750)

Legendary Drivers Edition Capeland Shelby Cobra 1963 Chronograph
Anything inspired by a Shelby is bound for greatness. Released in four 15-run limited-edition series, each honors a racing great: Ken Miles, Dan Gurney, Allen Grant and Dave MacDonald. This 44mm number has yellow-and-green accents, racing stripes and an hour and minute hand meant to evoke the Cobra’s steering wheel. And the chronograph is a stylistic homage to cockpit gauges. ($4,450)

Jaguar MKIII
So British. The latest in a series of six collaborative pieces from Bremont and Jaguar, the MKIII is an ode to the legendary E-Type. The closed caseback recalls the E-Type’s wheel detail, while the heritage logo is nestled right above the date window. It’s charismatic and a little sexy. ($4,795)

Monaco Calibre 11 Automatic Chronograph
Leave it to Mr. McQueen. In the epic ‘70s film Le Mans, the track virtuoso wore an original Heuer Monaco. And thus, it was etched in time. Still an ultra-popular model today, this number is an aesthetic ode to the classic, but with obviously updated bells and whistles. ($,5,726)

Cosmograph Daytona
Dubbed Daytona after the International Speedway in Florida, this model was born in 1963. It was crafted with pro racers top of mind, and it was a favorite of one Mr. Paul Newman, who is said to have strapped this very model on from 1972 till his death in 2008. ($38,600)

Bentley Supersports Automatic Chronograph
They only made 1,000 of these gems. It comes in three Supersport variations, each aligning with the ever-fancy Bentley Continental, the maker’s zippiest model and champion ice racer. ($9,600)

Design Chronograph Automatic
Named after the very tricky corner in the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, this one’s a go-to for the F1 and 24-Hour events that corridor hosts every year. It’s Swiss-made and oh-so-crispy. ($3,255)

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