10 Best Cycling Watches — From High-End to Affordable

This may be surprising to a lot of people, but cycling and horology have a lot in common. Yes, enthusiasts from both communities spend a lot of time admiring gears and machinery — the crankset or full-carbon frame for the cyclists, and the manual movement for the watch fans. Apart from that, both camps put a lot of value in tracking time as accurate as possible. With that said, it is inevitable that these two worlds merge and create a useful tool — cycling watches.

When it comes to professional cycling, timing is important. In fact, a lot of people say that timing is everything in events like Tour de France. As we all know, the cyclists who participate in these competitions are highly competitive that even a split-second difference counts. That is why it is necessary to be equipped with the most reliable cycling watch.

The same goes for beginners who want to take cycling seriously. It is recommended for them to use these sports watches to aid them during practice as they have a lot of features aimed at making your cycling session more efficient. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why a reliable sports watch is important in cycling.

The Importance of a Reliable Watch in Cycling

Whether you’re a beginner or a long-time rider, a cycling watch is something that you must consider adding to your biking checklist. Here are a few reasons why it’s worth investing in one.

Cycling watches, fitness tracker
Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

1. It tracks your progress.

When you want to improve your game or if you want to get into professional cycling, training is important. In fact, you’ll have to keep track of your speed, time, and distance so you know which aspects of your training you have to improve on. Fortunately, a lot of cycling watches offer a built-in fitness tracker.

Apart from being aware of the weaknesses that you have to work on, your fitness tracker can also serve as a motivation. In fact, depending on the software used, some display motivational quotes or even let you share your progress to your friends online.

2. A cycling watch is more convenient to use than a smartphone.

Some people might argue that smartphones can now do whatever cycling watches can do. However, tracking your time with your wrist is easier than getting your phone out of your pocket and unlocking it. And if you have to check your timer while on-the-go, you risk keeping your eyes off the road. With that, simply taking a peek at your wrist will help you save both time and energy.

Famous Cyclists and their Favourite Luxury Sports Watches

When you say cycling watches, however, it doesn’t mean you only opt for beater or affordable watches. Some luxury sports watches prove to be the best cycling buddy. Let’s take a look at these famous cyclists and their favourite luxury cycling watches.

Fabian Cancellara indoor spinning with his IWC watch
Photo from IWC

1. Fabian Cancellara and his IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Edition ‘Galapagos Islands’

If you’re a fan of Fabian Cancellara, you might have noticed his fondness for luxury watches, particularly IWC models. In fact, he has been spotted numerous times wearing those watches in events like the Tour de France. One of those models is the IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Edition ‘Galapagos Islands. Apart from that chronograph, Fabian Cancellara also enjoys sporting a few other timepieces. A few of those are the Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar and the Ingenieur Double Chronograph.

As its name suggests, the Chronograph Edition ‘Galapagos Islands’ from the IWC Aquatimer collection has a chronograph function that features minutes and seconds trackers. Apart from that, it has a SafeDive system which gives it enough water resistance rating in case it ends up raining during a cycling tour.

The watch is also durable, as evident in the materials used. For the case, IWC used stainless steel with vulcanised rubber coating. Apart from that, it has a screw-down crown and a sapphire glass for added durability. Lastly, it comes with a black rubber strap to keep Fabian Cancellara comfortable during his cycling tours.

Richie Porte and TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45
Photo from Sigma Sports

2. Richie Porte and his TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45

Richie Porte, a famous Australian road bike racer, is also known for strapping on luxury watches on his wrist. And his partner in crime is the TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45. This watch is a combination of TAG Heuer’s signature design and the benefits of a high-tech smartwatch.

The famous cyclist has been seen numerous times wearing the watch with different straps. For instance, he was spotted wearing an orange strap during the Tour Down Under. Another example is when he sported a yellow one for the Criterium du Dauphine.

Indeed, the watch’s Strava app helps professional cyclists track their training. Apart from that, the touch screen is a breeze to use especially if you want to toggle the chronograph and stopwatch functions.

When it comes to comfort, the TAG Heuer Connected Modular comes with a titanium finish and a fully-perforated rubber strap. This is easily adjustable and breathable so Richie stays comfortable even during a hot ride.

Julian Alaphilippe and his Richard Mille RM 67-02
Photo from @alafpolak on Instagram

3. Julian Alaphilippe and his Richard Mille RM 67-02

Going on a tour using expensive bikes is not uncommon. In fact, it is normal to see professional cyclists who use all-carbon bike frames that cost at least $2000. But Cyclist Julian Alaphilippe took flexing to the next level as he was spotted spinning with a $120,500 luxury watch at the Critérium du Dauphiné in France.

The watch spotted on his wrist was a Richard Mille RM 67-02. According to the brand’s website, that particular model is “thin, lightweight, coloured, elegant and athletic”. While it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of a smartwatch like a heart rate monitor and fitness tracker, it is durable and light. In fact, it only weighs 32 grams and is made with carbon composite and titanium components.

Apart from that, the model was designed so that it can be adapted to various sporting disciplines. That is why the brand made various RM 67-02 units in the colours of various athletes’ countries. A few examples are Alexis Pinturault for skiing and Mutaz Essa Barshim for high jumping.

Requirements of a Good Cycling Watch

Cycling is a physically demanding activity. With that said, you will need more than just a regular watch. You will most likely need a few features that aren’t found in a time-only watch. Here are some of the few important things that you should consider when out shopping for sports watches.

1. It should be durable.

Perhaps durability is the most important thing to look for when shopping for cycling watches. Indeed, bike watches should be synonymous with tough watches. Whether you’re just going out for a sprint in the city or a long ride in the mountains, it is inevitable that you come across rough roads. Also, add the possibility that you might drop the watch or rub it against a rough surface. 

With that, we recommend looking for bike watches made with durable material. A few things you should consider for your case are stainless steel and titanium. Apart from the case, you should also mind the crystal used for the dial. Sapphire crystals, for instance, are shatter-proof and can resist scratches.

Moving on to the inside of the watch, some brands offer shock-resistant calibres. With that said, it is important to watch out for words like “Parashock” when looking at the watch’s spec sheet. This will help it keep time more accurately even after being subjected to shocks.

2. It should be lightweight.

There’s a good reason why people opt for lightweight materials when it comes to bike parts. Enthusiasts won’t second guess spending all the extra money for carbon materials, etc. And it is for aerodynamics. The same thing can go for your equipment. With that said, it is important to prioritise lightweight watches when looking for your next sports watch.

A timepiece’s weight might seem unimportant, and people might overlook it. However, it is important to note that having a lightweight watch on your wrist can minimize fatigue.

Cycling watch GPS
Photo from Suunto

3. It should be GPS-enabled.

One of the most useful things that bike watches offer is the GPS functionality. With this feature, it would be easier for cyclists to check their speed and distance travelled. This is extremely important if you’re setting cycling goals or tracking your progress and looking to break your record.

Apart from that, it can also provide navigation when you’re going through an unfamiliar trail. And depending on the device you’re using, some maps show the condition of the route. This allows you to avoid damaging your tires in case you are riding a road bike instead of a mountain bike.

4. It should be waterproof.

As mentioned above, you will be wearing your cycling watch while doing intense physical activities. That means that apart from having durable materials, it must have the correct water resistance rating as well. But why would you need a watch with a good water-resistance rating if you’re not going to swim with it? Remember that when you’re out doing exercises, your sweat can drench your timepiece especially when you’re cycling intensely. Apart from that, there is also a chance that you get caught in a rain.

We recommend looking at sports watches that have at least 50m water resistance rating. What this means is that your timepiece can be used to swim with. Additionally, having a watch with a high water resistance rating can be extremely useful if you’re a triathlete who needs to alternate between swimming and cycling.

Watch with a rubber strap
Photo from IWC

5. It should come with a rubber strap.

Last but not least, you should be comfortable wearing your bike watch for hours. Believe us when we say that the ergonomics of your watch strap can play a big role when it comes to performance. You wouldn’t want to compromise a workout by getting distracted with an uncomfortable bike watch.

One of the most recommended straps to get for sports watches are rubber straps. In fact, this is the most common material used for dive watches and other sports watches. Unlike leather or metal bracelets, rubber can handle sweat and dirt better. Additionally, it is easier to clean in case you drive through a muddy trail.

Apart from the material of the strap, you should also look at how it’s built. For instance, some straps offer better breathability. You should also look for straps that have a secure lock system so you don’t have to worry about it falling while riding. 

10 Best Cycling Watches  From High-End to Affordable

Now that we have all the requirements and introductions covered, we go to the best part of this article — the list of our recommended best cycling watches, from luxury to budget-friendly.

1. IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Laureus Sport For Good

The IWC Aquatimer is one of the brand’s sportiest collections. In fact, it was intentionally made for professionals who need a robust and durable timepiece. With that said, you should check out the model called IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Laureus Sport For Good.

IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Laureus Sport For Good

Specs:

  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 45mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 68 hours
  • Water resistance: 300m

Performance-wise, it uses the IWC-manufactured 89365 Calibre. It beats at a frequency of 28,800 BPH, has a total of 35 jewels, and can power the watch for up to 68 hours. Furthermore, it is a chronograph movement with a flyback function. Overall, this watch from IWC is considered a reliable and accurate movement.

Among its features are a water resistance rating of 300m and a chronograph function with minutes and seconds. The sub-dial at the 12 o’clock position shows the stopped minutes. And apart from that, it has an external/internal rotating bezel which guarantees accurate setting of times.

The stainless steel case of the watch is covered with vulcanized rubber. This can protect it from a few bumps and scratches that you may encounter during a ride. Moreover, it comes with a navy blue rubber strap that matches the shade of the dial. And looking closely, it features a basket weave-like pattern. This bracelet is both comfortable and attractive at the same time.

2. Tag Heuer Connected Modular Quartz

Tag Heuer has always been known for its connection with motorsports. This time, they have also caught the attention of the cycling community with the Tag Heuer Connected Modular Quartz. With their experience in making sports watches paired with new technology, Tag Heuer has made a smartwatch that has computerised and mechanical modules which can be useful in various sports.

Tag Heuer Connected Modular Quartz

Specs:

  • Case material: Fine Brushed and Polished Titanium
  • Case dimension: 45mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water resistance: 50m

From afar, it is easy to mistake the display for a mechanical one. But the truth is, it’s made with Amoled Touch Screen Display that features various watch faces. And on top of the screen is a sapphire crystal that directly blends into the bezel. Apart from protecting the touchscreen, it also makes it easy and comfortable to use.

When it comes to software, the Tag Heuer Connected Modular Quartz runs on Google’s Wear OS. Among its features are a fitness tracker, Google Assistant. The fitness tracker includes a special cycling mode that displays the time, calories, and your heart rate data. In my opinion, this is a very useful feature if you want to meticulously track your progress.

Overall, this Tag Heuer Connected Modular is a handy watch for cycling. Apart from offering various features and even a dedicated cycling mode, it also sports an attractive design that is ergonomic.

3. Tissot T-Sport T-Race Cycling Chronograph

Like the previous brand, Tissot is also known for their passion for motorsports. But from four-wheeled vehicles, they also ventured into two-wheeled with the Tissot T-Sport T-Race Cycling Chronograph. Indeed, this watch was driven by the brand’s passion for cycling.

Tissot T-Sport T-Race Cycling Chronograph

Specs:

  • Case material: Stainless Steel
  • Case dimension: 44.5mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water resistance: 100m

Judging by its design, the watch’s details were clearly inspired by racing bikes. To demonstrate, the pushers at the right side look and act like brake levers. Furthermore, its strap and lugs imitate the fork of the bike. Lastly, the icing on the cake is the engraving on the caseback as it depicts a bike cassette.

In terms of performance, it uses a Swiss quartz movement called the ETA G10.212. A few of its functions are the central 60-seconds chronograph hand, EOL (battery end-of-life indicator), ADD, and SPLIT functions. These functions are very nice to have when cycling especially with the quartz movement’s accuracy.

To conclude, this Tissot T-Sport watch is a must-have for serious cyclists. Apart from the plethora of features and the design cues, the watch can handle enough stress. Its sapphire crystal and silicone strap will surely put your mind at ease when the going gets tough.

4. Breitling Superocean Heritage II Chronograph

The Breitling Superocean was created with athletic people in mind. Whether you love swimming, surfing, or even cycling, you should check out the Breitling Superocean Heritage II Chronograph. It is rugged yet modern which is perfect for those who are looking for something they can have an adventure with and bring to formal occasions at the same time.

Breitling Superocean Heritage II Chronograph

Specs:

  • Case material: Stainless Steel
  • Case dimension: 44mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 48 hours
  • Water resistance: 200m

Its blue dial contains three sub-dials — one for the small seconds, one for the chrono minutes, and another for the chrono hours. This chronograph movement is called the Breitling Calibre 13, which is based on the ETA 7750 Valjoux. Furthermore, it is certified by the COSC and it beats at a frequency of 28,800 BPH. This movement is considered as a reliable workhorse due to its high accuracy.

In the durability department, this model stands out as well. For one, it has an ample water resistance rating in case you get caught in the rain while biking. Apart from that, the round hour markers are applied with lume. This will come handy if you’re cycling through a tunnel or if you decided to go on a night ride. Lastly, it comes with a dark blue rubber strap that will keep you comfortable even for hours.

This watch from Breitling is a very versatile timepiece. It has a lot of the timing features that you will find handy during a cycling session. Apart from providing the features you need, this watch is also nice to wear on a casual day. 

5. Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Chronograph Titanium

Undoubtedly, the Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Chronograph Titanium is one of Omega’s most advanced watches. In fact, it was made with aerospace and aviation in mind. However, cyclists can also find its features useful when training for the next ride.

Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Chronograph Titanium

Specs:

  • Case material: Titanium
  • Case dimension: 45mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water resistance: 30m

Just one look at this particular Omega Speedmaster model and you’ll know that it’s made for sports. Apart from the playful blue and green colourway, its materials are made to handle tough elements. The case, for instance, is made of grade 2 titanium that provides a lightweight feel. To add, its dial is covered with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal that has anti-reflective treatment on both sides.

Under the hood, it is powered by a multi-functional quartz chronograph movement called the Omega calibre 5619. It has special functions like chronograph, timer, MET (Mission Elapsed Time), PET (Phase Elapsed Time), three alarms and perpetual calendar among others. All of these features have been tested by the European Space Agency (ESA).

As expected of Omega, the Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Chronograph Titanium is a capable watch for professional cycling. It has a lot of the bells and whistles that you will need while on a tour. Apart from that, it sports a unique design that will surely catch the attention of fellow cyclists.

6. Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition

Named after one of the most prestigious racing events, the Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition was made to conquer sporting events. And while the Chopard Classic Racing collection was particularly inspired by car racing, cyclists can also find its timing features useful.

Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition

Specs:

  • Case material: Titanium
  • Case dimension: 44.5mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 46 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

Undoubtedly, this model is one of the most attractive cycling watches around. Its case and tachymeter bezel both come in two different hues of grey. This colour scheme seems to continue on the three subdials which display the tracker for 60 seconds, 30 minutes, and 12 hours. These timers are useful for recording your speed when doing a few laps.

This watch from Chopard is powered by the ETA-Valgranges Caliber A07.211. It is based on the ETA 7750 and is certified by the COSC for guaranteed accuracy. This allows you to get the correct numbers when tracking your cycling progress. Additionally, it beats at 4 Hz and can power the watch up to 46 hours when fully wound.

Lastly, the nylon strap is something to write home about with its attractive grey and orange combination. With its automatic chronograph function, the Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique 2016 Race Edition will surely be in the spotlight the next time you go on a cycling club fun run.

7. Seiko Astron 5X Series Dual Time GPS Solar

Of course, this list of cycling watches will not be complete without mentioning the Seiko Astron 5X Series Dual Time GPS Solar. In fact, the Seiko Astron collection has gone down in history as the world’s first quartz watch. And now, the Japanese brand has upgraded that watch into something more impressive. They even call the 5X series “the most advanced ever” on their website.

Seiko Astron 5X Series Dual Time GPS Solar

Specs:

  • Case material: Stainless Steel
  • Case dimension: 42.9mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water resistance: 100m

Speaking of advanced features, this watch from Seiko is one of the most accurate timers that you’ll ever encounter. Like the previous Seiko Astron models, it has a GPS feature that connects to different satellites around the globe in order to adjust the time to the dot. This is particularly useful for people who participate in cycling races and need a very accurate timing device.

Apart from the features, this watch also excels when it comes to looks. It comes in a classy black and gold colourway that will definitely blend with most of your wardrobe. Apart from that, the three inner dials and a small date window which are placed strategically to avoid looking cluttered. The three pusher buttons at the right side are all coated with black to complete the look and make it more unique.

Furthermore, this watch is both durable and comfortable to wear during extended periods of cycling. The case’s finishing and materials feel premium and solidly built, offering a water resistance rating of 100m. This allows you to cycle through the rain without worrying about ruining the watch. Lastly, its dial is protected by a dual-curved sapphire crystal so you don’t have to worry about scratching it.

8. Suunto 7 Graphite Copper

The Suunto 7 Graphite Copper is popular with people who are into professional cycling for a good reason. In case you didn’t know, Suunto’s strong suit is in making sports watches and dive computers. And that forte in sports is evident in this model.

Suunto 7 Graphite Copper

Specs:

  • Case material: Glass Fibre Reinforced Polyamide
  • Case dimension: 50mm
  • Movement: Digital
  • Water resistance: 50m

Features-wise, this timepiece has everything you need to make your fitness experience better. It has a built-in GPS so you can track your cycling route and how far you’ve pedalled. Apart from that, it has a barometric altimeter and an optical heart rate sensor which lets you determine your activity’s intensity.

A bonus feature is that the watch supports offline outdoor maps. This means that you can still view the maps even when you’re cycling in a place with poor signal. Additionally, the maps are detailed and show trails, terrain info, and even contour lines. This can be very useful when you’re using your road bike instead of a mountain bike and want to avoid the rocky paths.

Apart from cycling, the Suunto 7 also features around 70 sports modes including running, swimming, and hiking among others. As someone who is serious in improving their cycling skills, training in a different sport like weightlifting can be beneficial especially if you’re targeting specific muscle groups. With that said, there is no doubt that the Suunto 7 Graphite Copper is a great fitness companion.

9. Garmin Forerunner 920XT

It seems that the brand Garmin is a staple for triathletes. So if you’re in the market for cycling watches, don’t forget to take a look at the Garmin Forerunner 920XT in particular. This multisport watch has almost everything you need for your next workout session.

Garmin Forerunner 920XT

Specs:

  • Case material: TPU
  • Case dimension: 45mm
  • Movement: Digital
  • Water resistance: 50m

The watch is jam-packed with advanced features. One of those is the heart rate monitor which helps you dial in your recovery status and your racing potential. To further explain, it provides a recovery time to let you know how long before you should attempt another intense workout to avoid passing out.

Furthermore, you can also connect this watch to your smartphone via Bluetooth. This enables a live tracking feature where your friends can monitor your stats and location on a map real-time. With this, you can see how you rank compared to other cyclists in your age group. In my opinion, this is a nice touch because a sense of competition can motivate you to complete your workout.

All things considered, there is no doubt that the Garmin Forerunner 920XT is an effective training tool. Being from a sports-oriented brand, this watch contains a lot of features that you cannot get from other watches.

10. Casio Edifice Bluetooth Compatible Solar

The Casio Edifice Bluetooth Compatible Solar has a very futuristic design. But this watch is not just for show, its modernity is also evident in its specs and high-tech features. In fact, this smartwatch can compete with other luxury watches in the market when it comes to functionality.

Casio Edifice Bluetooth Compatible Solar

Specs:

  • Case material: Stainless Steel
  • Case dimension: 43mm
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Water resistance: 100m

In terms of power, it gets its source from the sun through a solar panel on the dial. What this means is that you don’t have to change its battery every now and then. That’s a very convenient way to keep your watch ticking. Meanwhile, its dial contains various subdials and gauges that tell the day, date, and timers.

One of its highlights is its Bluetooth feature. Casio released their own mobile application that can synchronize your timepiece with your phone. Apart from the World Time function, the app allows you to set alarms. It also has various timer functions and stopwatches which you can find handy when calculating your speed when cycling. And most importantly, it includes a range of race tracks which you can check out.

Lastly, this watch from the Casio Edifice collection can handle all the stress you put it through. It is made with stainless steel and has a screw-down crown that protects it from water ingress. Apart from that, its indexes and hands are all applied with lume to aid you even when you’re cycling in the dark.

Final Notes

It should be clear by now that cycling watches are extremely helpful for people who are into cycling. Indeed, it is a tool that when maximised, can bring you a lot of benefits. For one, it helps you track your strengths and weaknesses in the sport. Apart from that, it gives you the tools to navigate unfamiliar roads in case you want to spice up your workout.

To add to that, a lot of these sports watches are considered as luxury watches, too. These have evolved into something more durable and suitable for athletic environments. If you’re a watch lover, it’s like hitting two birds with one stone as you have an excuse to show off your timepiece during a cycling session.

 

 

Photo Credit: Featured photo from Garmin

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