In motorsports, time is the essence of every race track. Watches have become an unexpectedly essential part of racing, as these timekeepers are crucial in order for you to keep track of your speed and distance. Regardless of what car you drive or the protective gear you wear, one of the most important elements in racing will always be the racing watch. This is why most watchmakers have a sports collection that includes a wide range of automotive-inspired racing watches.
Considering the sheer variety of racing watches available in the market, people can often find it difficult to settle on a specific piece. That is why we have curated a list of the 20 best racing watches in 2022. From vintage-inspired models to modern chronographs, you are bound to find a racing watch that is just right for you.
What Are Racing Watches?
Racing watches have been a popular phenomenon since the 1960s. However, these timepieces actually date back to 1821, when the first racing timepiece was created for King Louis XVIII, an avid horse racer. Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec built a watch with a little ink dot that you could activate using a press button. This button would be pressed each time a horse passed the finish line, effectively using this watch to time the horse races.
In the early 1890s, as watch technology advanced, racing watches evolved to incorporate mechanical chronograph complications. TAG Heuer built a reputation for itself and became known as the top brand that produced automotive-inspired racing watches. In 1911, the brand created the Trip of Time, which was the first dashboard chronograph.
Up to this point, these so-called “racing watches” that had been produced were all effectively stopwatches that you had to hold in your hands. It was not until 1913 that Longines made history by producing the first-ever chronograph wristwatch, which incorporated both a time display and a chronograph complication in one. Half a century later, another breakthrough in racing watches was made as Hamilton, TAG Heuer, and Breitling worked together to invent the first automatic racing watch with a chronograph complication.
Today, racing watches are used to refer to sports watches that can track time remarkably accurately. They are typically used in sports races, including horse, car, or motorbike races. Modern racing watches tend to show off practical, highly legible designs, bulky cases, and high-caliber movements.
What Should the Best Racing Watches Have?
There are a lot of factors to keep in mind when purchasing a watch. Some consider style and design, some look at the price and the brand, and others go for the specifications. If you are thinking of buying a racing watch, however, here are a few crucial features you should keep in mind:
The tachymeter scale is an essential function in racing watches. It helps you estimate your average speed and time over a constant distance, allowing you to calculate the speed you are travelling at. There are three different types of tachymeter scale: circumferential on a fixed bezel, circumferential on a moving bezel, or snail-type. Snail-type tachymeter bezels are typically used for slower speeds, while most racing watches today adopt the circumferential tachymeter on a fixed bezel.
The chronograph function works like a stopwatch during a race. It usually takes the form of two or three sub-dials. Most of the time, one sub-dial will display the small seconds counter, so wearers can keep track of every split second in a race. The other counters are typically used to track the elapsed minutes or hours, depending on the model you are looking at. Pushers, which are located on the sides of the case, are used to stop, start, and reset the chronograph counters.
Angled and High-Contrast Dial
All racers want a hassle-free way of checking the time, right? Nobody wants to have to move their arm around while holding the steering wheel just so they can check the time. As such, an angled and high-contrast dial should be a priority when choosing a racing watch. A dial like this would be more legible and easier to read, especially when you are checking the sweep seconds and chronograph displays. Make sure to check if your racing watch’s crystal comes with an anti-reflective coating, too, so you will not get any light glares that hinder your view of the dial.
Straps and bracelets that are resistant to sweat, impacts, and corrosion are the best choices for racing watches. Racing is a vigorous sport and you need a watch that can withstand those kinds of extreme situations. The strap should also be comfortable, so it will not distract you while you are on the track. In general, rally-style straps and metal bracelets made of stainless steel or lightweight titanium are the best choices.
20 Best Racing Watches in 2022
1. Jacob & Co. Twin Turbo Bugatti Furious 300+
Let us start with the most expensive and elite watch on the list, the Jacob & Co. Twin Turbo Bugatti Furious 300+. This is a limited edition racing watch created in collaboration with the iconic supercar manufacturer, Bugatti. Its exorbitant price is a testament to this watch’s astonishing capabilities, such as the reference time indicator on its chronograph and its two accelerated triple-axis tourbillons, which cannot be found in most racing watches. In addition, this watch is equipped with a decimal repeater and a 300-meter depth rating, which is the highest water resistance capacity of any watch on this list.
This Jacob & Co watch also comes in a 57mm case made of forged carbon and black DLC Grade 5 titanium, coupled with a black cordura fabric strap. Although this watch is quite bulky, its use of titanium ensures that it has quite a lightweight build, so you will not have much trouble wearing it all day.
With its rugged all-black exterior and sophisticated dial, this watch retails at $580,000 USD.
2. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116519/4
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona always ranks high on racing watch lists. This motorsports-inspired piece became especially popular after it was worn by famous car racer Paul Newman, who is known for owning multiple models of the Cosmograph Daytona. This Rolex racing watch is even named after the Daytona Speedway in Florida, which is the world’s first, and arguably most famous, race track.
One exceptional model from this collection is the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116519/4. This watch is housed in a 40mm case made of luxurious 18K white gold and a suave leather strap in light brown. On the case, you can find a sizeable screw-down crown, two chronograph pushers, and a robust tachymeter scale bezel, also made of white gold. The watch’s gorgeous white gold exterior is also complemented by its clean white dial. This dial comprises pronounced white gold Arabic numeral markers, slender blunt hands, and three chronograph sub-dials in black and red, which allows them to stand out more strongly against the white dial.
Driving this watch is an in-house Rolex Caliber 4130. This is a self-winding mechanical movement that uses a vertical clutch to control its chronograph functions. In addition, it can last for up to an incredible 73 hours when fully charged.
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116519/4 sells at around $53,299 USD.
3. Hublot Classic Fusion Ferrari GT
The next watch on our list is the Classic Fusion Ferrari Gran Turismo (GT) Ref. 526.NX.0124.VR, which is the result of a collaboration between Ferrari and Hublot. This is an exceptionally modern watch, with its sophisticated skeleton dial and its 45mm case made of lightweight micro-blasted titanium. A Schedoni leather strap in black and two pushers in contrasting black and bright red shades complete this watch’s sporty aesthetic.
The skeleton dial of this watch might look complicated at first glance, but it is actually very legible, thanks to the large Arabic numeral markers printed around the dial. It also contains a small seconds sub-dial, a 30-minute chronograph counter, and a small date window at 3 o’clock. Driving all these functions is an in-house caliber HUB1281 UNICO. This movement has a beat frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour and a substantial 72-hour power supply.
This Hublot Classic Fusion watch sells at $17,359 USD.
4. IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Sport Edition Ref. IW380801
In collaboration with another famous car company, Mercedes, IWC was able to create a modern Ingenieur model. The IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Sport Edition Ref. IW380801 draws inspiration from the 1950s Tissot V8 Alpine. It is a striking and elegant model, featuring a gorgeous all-white style with its 42.3mm stainless steel case and matching stainless steel strap. Fixed on top of the case is a layer of protective sapphire crystal, which has been treated with anti-reflective coatings to ensure a clear view of the dial.
The white dial of this watch blends in well with its exterior. On the rim of the dial, you can find an internal tachymeter scale, which comes with a stopwatch hand so you can calculate speed more accurately. The dial is also furnished with exquisite gold-tone hour indices, baton hands, three chronograph counters, and a date aperture at 3 o’clock. This watch is driven by an in-house IWC 89361 Caliber. Held together by 38 jewels, this movement has a 68-hour power supply.
You can purchase this IWC watch for approximately $9,125 USD.
5. Breitling Bentley Ref. EB043335-BD78
As you can tell by now, many racing watches are the product of a collaboration between a watchmaker and a car company. The Breitling Bentley GMT Ref. EB043335-BD78 is another impressive example of this. This Breitling Bentley watch comes in a 45mm lightweight titanium case. This is coupled with a comfortable black leather strap and a distinctive knurled bezel that resembles the instrument panels of racing cars.
The black dial of this watch is simple enough, with a pattern of circles radiating outwards across the dial. It is also decorated with silver hour indices and sword hands, pronounced Arabic numeral markers, three chronograph sub-dials, and a date display. On the rim of the dial, you can find an internal tachymeter bezel, a slide rule, and indicators for 24 different cities, which you can use to access 24 different time zones. This watch is powered by a COSC-certified Breitling Caliber 04 with a 70-hour power reserve.
This Breitling watch sells at approximately $7,519 USD.
6. Chopard Mille Miglia GTS
The Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Ref. 168566-6001 is an interesting race watch. Instead of being inspired by a car company, this Chopard watch draws its inspiration from the famous Italian Mille Miglia Endurance race. It utilizes a 43mm stainless steel case and a handsome brown leather strap. This watch also does away with the chronograph function. Instead, its ruthenium galvanized grey dial is adorned with applique hour indices, bold Arabic numerals, thick sword hands, and a unique signboard-shaped date complication at 3 o’clock. At 9 o’clock, you can also see an intriguing fuel-inspired power reserve indicator.
This cleverly-designed Chopard Mille Miglia watch retails at $7,299 USD.
7. Tudor Heritage Black Bay Ref. 79360N-0006
For a top-notch watch with a high-contrast dial, check out the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Ref. 79360N-0006, with its classic black-and-white panda dial. This model is probably one of the most popular racing watches from the brand. It uses a 41mm stainless steel case, paired with a rugged leather bund strap in black and a matching black tachymeter bezel made of anodized aluminum.
The dial of this watch comes in white and consists of luminous circular hour indices, the signature Tudor snowflake hands, and a date window at 6 o’clock. The two chronograph counters come in black, standing out against the snow-white dial like the black eyes of a panda. This watch runs on a Tudor Caliber MT5813, which has a solid 70-hour power supply and a 200-meter depth rating.
This Tudor Heritage Black Bay watch has an estimated price tag of $6,479 USD.
8. Omega Speedmaster Ref. 310.32.42.50.01.002
The Omega Speedmaster, which was first introduced in 1957, is another collection of incredibly popular racing watches. In particular, we recommend the quintessential Omega Speedmaster Ref. 310.32.42.50.01.002. This watch utilizes a classic combination of a 42mm stainless steel case and a sleek black leather strap. This is complemented by its black anodized aluminum tachymeter bezel and matching matte black dial.
The dial of this watch follows a very straightforward layout, with slender sword hands, slim hour indices, and three chronograph counters for the small seconds, 30-minute, and 12-hour displays. The highlight of this watch, however, is definitely its Omega Caliber 3861. This is a Co-Axial Master Chronometer with METAS-certified anti-magnetic components, bolstering this watch’s durability against strong magnetic fields.
This Omega watch sells at approximately $6,429 USD.
9. TAG Heuer Monaco
The TAG Heuer Monaco is one of the only square-cased racing watches in existence today. First released in 1969, this stylish range of vintage-inspired racing watches was inspired by the Monaco Grand Prix. One model we recommend is the TAG Heuer Monaco Ref. CBL2113.FC6177. This watch comes in a 39mm square stainless steel case with a classy black alligator leather strap. The dial of this watch is also quite unique: instead of having round sub-dials, the chronograph counters of this watch are square, like the case itself. This dial also comprises slender applique hour indices, luminous sword hands, a compact date display at 6 o’clock, and a printed tachymeter track.
This watch is also notable for being the first TAG Heuer model to come with an in-house movement. It runs on the Caliber Heuer 02, which has a whopping 80-hour power supply.
You can get your hands on the TAG Heuer Monaco Ref. CBL2113.FC6177 for just $6,049 USD.
10. TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Special Edition
Another sleek racing watch from TAG Heuer is the TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Special Edition. Created in collaboration with the car icon, Porsche, this watch is presented in a 44mm stainless steel case with a matching three-link bracelet. Fixed on top of the bezel is a robust black tachymeter bezel.
The dial of this TAG Heuer Carrera watch shows off a rugged grey asphalt-like texture, enhancing the industrial aesthetic of this timepiece. It is adorned with double-digit Arabic numeral markers in luminescent silver, luminous hands, three black chronograph sub-dials, and a date window at 6 o’clock. The red accents scattered across the dial add to its handsome, sporty style. Like the aforementioned TAG Heuer model, this watch runs on a Caliber Heuer 02.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Special Edition sells at just $5,949 USD.
11. Tudor Fastrider Chrono
Unlike the other racing watches that are inspired by cars, the Tudor Fastrider Chrono Ref. 42000CR-BKRS is the result of a collaboration between Tudor and Ducati x Diavel, a famous motorbike manufacturer. This robust timepiece boasts an all-black exterior, from its 42mm stainless steel case and bezel to its rubber strap. The hints of red splashed across the dial and on the rim of the tachymeter bezel add to the watch’s rugged sportiness.
The dial of this watch also comes in black and is accented by red applique hour indices, silver and red skeletal hands, and a small date aperture with red text. The hands of the three chronograph counters also come in vibrant red. All of these features are powered by an ETA-Valjoux Caliber 7753, which has a 150-meter depth rating and a 42-hour power supply.
This Tudor Fastrider Chrono watch sells at an estimated price of $3,589 USD.
12. Montblanc Timewalker
Montblanc watches never fail to give off an impression of dressy elegance, and even their racing watches are no different. The Montblanc TimeWalker Automatic Chronograph is a vintage-inspired model for auto racing that manages to pull off being sporty and classy at the same time. It comes in a 43mm stainless steel case with a rugged perforated leather strap in black. Fixed on top of the case is a minimalistic tachymeter scale bezel made of lustrous aluminum.
The dial of this watch boasts a silvery-white finish that simply screams elegance. It is furnished with Arabic numeral markers in a stylized typeface, simple hour indices, silver dauphine hands, and a small date display at 3 o’clock. You can also find a small seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock and two larger chronograph counters at 6 and 12 o’clock. Inside this Montblanc TimeWalker piece, you can find an in-house Caliber MB 25.07, which has a 46-hour power supply.
This Montblanc watch has an estimated price of just $3,349 USD.
13. TAG Heuer Formula 1
For a more playful racing watch, take a look at the Formula 1 Ref. CAZ101P.FC8245. This watch comes in a 43mm stainless steel case and a handsome calfskin leather strap in black with vibrant yellow stitching. Its black tachymeter bezel and dial are all highly legible, with pronounced Arabic numeral markers.
Aside from that, this Formula 1 watch’s black dial also consists of applique hour indices, luminous sword hands, and three chronograph sub-dials. Yellow accents are peppered all around the dial, on the minute track, sub-dials, and even the watch’s seconds hand. This combination of yellow against black is incredibly stylish and adds a quirky edge to the watch face. Unlike the other racing watches mentioned above, this timepiece uses a quartz chronograph movement. Despite its affordability, the reliability of this Swiss-made quartz caliber is beyond doubt, as it has undergone 60 different quality control tests.
This TAG Heuer watch retails at just $1,899 USD.
14. Oris Chronoris November Edition 2019
Looking for a simpler racing watch? Take a peek at the Oris Chronoris November Edition 2019. This handsome Oris watch is housed in a 39mm stainless steel case and a suave brown calfskin leather strap. Its dial follows a very straightforward layout, containing simple rectangular hour indices, luminous blunt hands, and an outlined date window at 3 o’clock. On the rim of the dial, you can also find an internal rotating tachymeter bezel. Driving all of these functions is the Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement, which can last for up 38 hours when fully wound.
If the chronograph function is not essential to you, then this Oris Chronoris watch would be a great option. It sells at around $1,539 USD.
15. Citizen Promaster Bullhead Racing Chronograph
For a solid mid-range racing watch, the Citizen Promaster Bullhead Racing Chronograph is an excellent pick. This limited edition piece utilizes a 45mm stainless steel case paired with a perforated black leather strap. As a bullhead watch, the pushers of this Citizen Promaster timepiece are unusually placed at the top of the case, like the horns of a bull.
This Citizen watch also showcases a charming forest green dial that is quite busy. It comprises luminous hour indices, silver sword hands, a square date complication, and four sub-dials, which serve as the chronograph counters and power reserve display. On the rim of the dial is an internal tachymeter bezel in black. These functions are all powered by a handy Citizen Eco-Drive movement, which enables the watch to be charged using any light source.
This Citizen watch can be purchased at around $930 USD.
16. Tissot V8 Alpine
For another fun and sporty racing watch piece, consider the Tissot V8 Alpine. Hailing from the brand’s Special Collections line, this watch is inspired by the Team Renault Alpine during the Monte Carlo rally in 1973. It shows off a black carbo-colored dial that recalls vintage race cars from the 70s’. This dial also contains silver dauphine hands, luminous blue indices, three chronograph sub-dials with blue and white highlights, and a date display outlined in blue. The blue accents help the dial components stand out more strongly against the black backdrop, creating a very satisfying contrast.
This Tissot watch comes in a 42.5mm stainless steel case and a vibrant, metallic blue tachymeter bezel. This is coupled with a rally-style calfskin leather strap in black which gives wearers an airier, more comfortable feel. Inside this watch, you can find an ETA G10.212 quartz movement with an outstanding three-year lifespan.
This watch sells at just $459 USD.
17. Casio Edifice
Another affordable racing watch that stands out is the Casio Edifice EQB-800BR-1AJF. This is a highly functional timepiece. Aside from its chronograph capabilities and tachymeter bezel, this watch also comes with a dual timezone display, a world time function for 300 global cities, and even a Bluetooth connectivity feature.
This robust Casio timepiece uses a bulky 49mm stainless steel case coupled with a black rubber strap and a black dial with playful neon highlights. It is equipped with a quartz movement that has Tough Solar technology, which allows you to charge the watch using any light source.
This Casio Edifice watch costs around $429 USD.
18. Tissot PRC 200 Chronograph
One of the best affordable racing watches is the Tissot T-Sport PRC 200 Chronograph. This watch is suitable not just for racing, but also for professional watersports, with its impressive 200-meter depth rating. It is presented in a 42mm stainless steel case and a matching five-link bracelet. Fixed on top of the case is a slimmer fixed bezel, while the watch’s tachymeter scale can be found on the rim of the dial. The contrast of the silver and yellow hour indices, blunt hands, and Arabic numerals also serves as a perfect contrast against the jet-black dial, allowing for better legibility during races.
Underneath the watch face is a quartz ETA Caliber G10.211. Held together by four jewels, this movement has a fantastic three-year battery life.
You can buy this Tissot T-Sport piece for around $399 USD.
19. Omologato Fiorano Chronograph FIORCH
For a more vintage racing watch, check out the Omologato Fiorano Chronograph FIORCH. This has been a popular race watch for drivers since the 1950s. It is presented in a 42mm stainless steel case with an Italian grain leather strap. The watch’s striking wine red bezel and dial contrast sharply against its more quintessential exterior. On the dial, you can find rounded Arabic numeral markers, slim luminous sword hands, and a date window at 6 o’clock. There are also two chronograph sub-dials, which are made to resemble race car number roundels.
This is one of the few racing watches that is powered by the Japanese Miyota Quartz Chronograph caliber. Despite their affordable prices, Miyota movements are highly respected for their reliability and accuracy.
This Omologato watch sells at around $522 USD.
20. Seiko SSB
Finally, we have the Seiko SSB Ref. SSB343P1. This sleek Seiko timepiece is encased in a 44mm stainless steel case and matching steel bracelet. Fixed on top of the case is a highly legible ion-plated fixed bezel, with black-printed markers in a neat typeface for the tachymeter scale. Its textured white dial blends well with the all-silver exterior. This dial also showcases dauphine hands, three large chronograph sub-dials, a compact date aperture, and large luminous indices that are painted blue for a clearer time display.
This watch stands out for being the only mechaquartz timepiece on this list. It runs on the Seiko Caliber 8T63, which has a solid three-year lifespan.
You can get your hands on the Seiko SSB Ref. SSB343P1 for just $299 USD, making this the most affordable racing watch in this article.
Watches have always been an essential tool for any activity. Whether you are driving around a race track or just going to the office, it serves as a necessary tool. That is why we made sure that all the racing watches we listed are not just good for sports races but can also make your daily life more convenient. Indeed, every one of the racing watches mentioned above comes with versatile, stylish designs and functions. Simply pick one that best suits your tastes and get to it!
Phots are from Watchshopping unless stated.
Are you interested in the Top 20 Eco-Friendly Watches? Check out the list and see how you can make an impact on the environment through your style.