People with a passion for cars and speed are usually fans of fine timepieces too – watches and motorsport are inextricably linked. It’s this love of precision timing and wheel-to-wheel racing that inspired us at Brooklands Watch Company. But we’re by no means alone – here is a selection of some of our favourite watches (including ours) that have been inspired by motorsport and the automobile world.
1. The Brooklands Watch Company Triple-Four
When founder Simon Jeffs visited the Brooklands Museum in 2017, he was intrigued to find that the circuit could time cars to within 1/1,000th of a second – in 1907. He’d dreamed about producing a luxury mechanical timepiece and this was just the impetus he needed. Sir Terence Conran agreed to be the designer because of a personal connection with Brooklands – his mother had learned to fly there, and his father was a regular visitor for the motor racing. Sir Terence’s design references the record-holding Napier-Railton racing car built at Brooklands in 1933. Limited to 500 pieces, each individually numbered, the watch’s exhibition back reveals a rotor design representing the master rod and two articulated conrods of the Napier-Railton’s legendary “Triple-Four” engine, while the timepiece’s hands recall the hands of the Chronograph Villa clock at Brooklands. You’re holding a piece of British motorsport history in your hands.
2. Richard Mille RM 029 Le Mans Classic
In 2001 at the age of 50, Richard Mille set out to create a new luxury watch brand, regardless of cost. You may have seen his big, bold, architectural watches on the wrists of F1 drivers and tennis star Rafael Nadal. This is a limited special edition unveiled in 2022 to celebrate the return of the Le Mans Classic, a race for classic cars over 40 years old. The case is a Mille masterstroke – made not of carbon fibre but Quartz TPT – millions of quartz fibres fused together. The sapphire glass pane offers a view into the mechanicals and the automatic winding system with variable geometry that allows the watch to be tuned according to the wearer’s level of activity.
Currently unavailable new – expect to pay around £300,000 for a pre-owned model.
3. Chopard Mille Miglia 2022 Race Edition
The Mille Miglia was known as “the most beautiful race in the world” with a history stretching back to 1927. Held on public roads, its course stretched over a 1,000-mile loop through San Marino, Rome, Siena and Florence. It wasn’t without its dangers, though. The race was banned twice – by Mussolini in 1939, and again in 1957 after a terrible crash that killed two drivers and eleven spectators. Since 1977 the race has been revived as the more sedate Mille Miglia Storica for pre-1957 classic cars, and Swiss watchmaker Chopard (founded in 1860) has been the official race timekeeper since 1988. This elegant chronometer is built to celebrate the race and available as a limited edition of 1,000 pieces in Lucent Steel and 250 pieces in 18k rose ethical gold.
£7,400 (steel) £10,900 (gold) Chopard.com
4. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
This legendary timepiece is named after the historic 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race held at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida, US. Rolex weren’t the only manufacturers to use the track’s name – the Ferrari Daytona (1968-73) was also named after the marque’s historic 1-2-3 victory at the circuit 1967. The Daytona was popularised when seen on the wrist of actor and gentleman racer Paul Newman, who wore it for over 30 years and sold at auction for $17.8 million in 2017. While the watch has a six-decade history, Rolex has continued to keep its mechanicals right up to date – in 1988 the Cosmograph Daytona was fitted with calibre 4030, an adaptation of the world’s first high-frequency self-winding chronograph movement.
5. Tag Heuer Carrera
Jack Heuer is a huge motorsport fan and his company has produced not one, but three racing-inspired watches: the Carrera, the Monza and the Monaco. However, it is the Carrera, launched in 1963, that truly epitomises his passion. It was designed to celebrate the legendary – and incredibly dangerous – Mexican rally held on the north-south section of the Pan-American Highway from 1950-1954. The first 1950 race was won by Hershel McGriff in an Oldsmobile 88 costing just $1,900. Back in the 60s, the Carrera was a massive step forward for racing enthusiasts, as the tachymeter scale allowed drivers and crew to measure speed and lap times using the integrated stopwatch. It was always Jack’s favourite watch, and a gold version was launched to celebrate his 88th birthday in 2020. McLaren Senna GTR Prototype.
£5,200–£18,750 (gold Birthday Edition) tagheuer.com
6. Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Chronograph Automatic
Frederique Constant is a Swiss watchmaker founded by Dutch couple Aletta and Peter Stas in 1992 with the aim of bringing quality but affordable watches to the market. The marque has a long-standing commitment to supporting vintage car rallies such as the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge, and it even has a Vintage Rally collection. For this watch, they partnered with the Austin Healey Club to create this limited edition self-winding chronograph that pays homage to this classic British sports car manufacturer of the 1950s and 60s. With its racing green face and white chronograph counters, it evokes the smell of four-star exhaust smoke and leather seats.
Currently unavailable from the manufacturer – expect to pay around £1,896–£3,285 from third-party sites.
7. Roger Dubuis Hurracán Sterrato
If you like Lamborghinis, you’ll probably like Roger Dubuis watches – they’re expensive, mechanically innovative, produced in very low volumes, geared to “those who live life in the fast lane” and delightfully ostentatious. Dubuis has teamed up with the designers at Lamborghini Squadra Corse to create some of the most in-your-face racing-inspired timepieces, and the Sterrato is their homage to Lamborghini’s robust new Hurracán variant, which has been raised 44mm for a more “rally inspired” ride. Limited to just 28 pieces, this timepiece’s case is engineered in SMC Carbon with sharp lines, hexagonal styling and a camouflage pattern on the strap that all embody the supercar’s aesthetics. It’s powered by the automatic RD630 calibre with a 60-hour power reserve – recognisable by its tilted balance wheel, twin barrels and date at 6 o’clock.
8. Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon Pursuit
Not many watchmakers have also been racing drivers, and Laurent Ferrier is perhaps the last of the “gentleman racers”. In 1978, he came first in his class at Le Mans (and 11th overall) and then calmly packed up his bags to fly back to Geneva to pursue his day job, working as a watchmaker for Patek Philippe. Watchmaking runs in his blood – and today at 77, Ferrier helms the eponymous Swiss brand he founded in 2009. The beautifully understated Grand Sport has a salmon pink face which echoes the sky he saw while racing at dawn on the Circuit de La Sarthe, and it’s cast in titanium for exceptional lightness. But don’t let its elegantly simple looks deceive you – inside it’s a mechanical marvel, featuring a tourbillon device based on the principle introduced by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1801, and complemented for the first time by a double hairspring.
CHF 175,000 (about £157,500), laurentferrier.ch
9. ICON Duesy
The California-based ICON brand is the brainchild of Jonathan Ward, known for making modern interpretations of classic cars using modern technologies and materials. He also loves watches, so it was only a matter of time before he created one. The Duesy is based on the dash gauges of the fabled “great American car”, the Duesenberg SJ. Unveiled in 1929, just as the US stock market crashed, the Model J was extravagantly expensive, and only 481 were made. The Duesy, with its jumping hour at 12 o’clock and minutes shown via a slowly turning disk below, is similarly exclusive – only 50 pieces will be made.
10. IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Edition “Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team”
This is the first official racing team watch that IWC Schaffhausen has produced, which is rather slow off the line considering the been the official engineering partner of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team since 2013. This 41-millimetre Pilot’s Chronograph is crafted from grade 5 titanium. A black dial with printing and luminescence in the team’s signature green complements the design. The bi-directional pawl winding system builds up a power reserve of 46 hours. The chronograph comes with two straps: a black embossed calfskin for evening and a green rubber strap for day wear. Thanks to the brand’s EasX-CHANGE®, the straps can be exchanged quickly without the usual palaver.