Tag Heuer, Rolex and more: Best watches inspired by car racing

For the past many decades, the irresistible combination of fast cars and luxury timepieces has been driving petrol heads crazy. Right from Rolex to IWC, Jaeger-LeCoulture to Richard Mille to Hublot, here’s a look at some of the most outstanding watches inspired by car racing.

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1. Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer 02

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First introduced in 1963, the famed Carrera collection takes its name from the week-long "Carrera Panamericana" road race held in Mexico during the 1950s, a thrilling competition revived in 1988 as an annual rally for pre-1955 collectors' vehicles, and for which TAG Heuer is both partner and official timekeeper. The first ever Carrera watch featured a ring securing the dial with the indispensable seconds scale. The larger display, easy push buttons and improved legibility of the watch made it a favourite of race car drivers. Over the last 55 years, the chronograph has occupied pole position in the world of motor. The new generation of TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 automatic chronographs features the stylish lines of the 21st century models, rendered distinctive by their modular case and bezel with tachymeter scale. The skeleton dial is integrated in a 43 mm diameter modular case, water-resistant to 100 metres and is available in 13 new versions, including one with a GMT function, and a range of straps and bracelets in rubber, leather, metal or ceramic with deployant buckle.

2. IWC Ingenieur

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Shortly after Mercedes took charge of its high-performance division AMG in 2005, IWC relaunched its Ingenieur range with watches modelled after the world of Formula One racing. The first Ingenieur (Reference 666), introduced in 1955, was a simple, round watch with high precision, shock resistance, water resistance and anti-magnetic protection. It also had an advanced pawl winding system that was named for its inventor, Albert Pellaton, then the technical director of IWC. Last year, when AMG celebrated its 50th anniversary, a commemorative timepiece—the Ingenieur Chronograph Sport Edition “50th Anniversary of Mercedes-AMG"—was launched to mark the milestone. To show its kinship with motorsports, IWC has equipped the watch with a tachymeter scale, which when used together with the chronograph hand, allows the wearer to calculate the average speed over a one-kilometre distance. Even the protection against magnetic fields on the case back is inspired by the carbon brake discs that feature in Mercedes-AMG cars.

3. Rolex Daytona

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One of the most coveted chronographs, named after the Daytona speedway in Florida, the watch has been an unattainable status symbol for aficionados for over five decades. With its three subdials for timing laps, the Daytona turned out to be a racing-inspired triumph for Rolex in the 1960s. Spotted on the wrists of Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, Adam Levine and Eric Clapton, the storied chronograph has had collectors going down the rabbit hole on many occasions. Two years ago, when Rolex announced the launch of the fourth iteration of this classic chronograph, retailers got into a frantic rush to book orders for their most loyal customers across the globe. Inspired by the first Daytona with a black plexiglass released in 1965, the new model features a corrosion-resistant, scratch-proof cerachrom bezel in black. Each piece comes with a five-year warranty and is a certified Superlative Chronometer, in accordance with the new guidelines set forth by Rolex in 2015 that brings the accuracy to -2/+2 seconds per day.

4. Chopard Mille Miglia

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Led by its co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, who is also a racing enthusiast, Chopard has been strengthening its game in the sports watch segment with the Mille Miglia collection, named after the famed rally that turned 90 last year. While the Mille Miglia models have always been wristwatches, in 1990 Chopard introduced the first mechanical movement, driving a split-second pocket chronograph in steel. The company started using the mechanical self-winding chronograph movements for all models two years ago and at Baselworld 2015, Chopard launched the Mille Miglia equipped with the first in-house mechanical movement. To mark the 90th anniversary of the race, the brand rolled out the Mille Miglia Classic XL 90th Anniversary Limited Edition chronograph. For the first time, the watch bears the Poinçon de Genève seal and is equipped with a splendid L.U.C flyback chronograph movement entirely developed, crafted and assembled in-house in Fleurier, Switzerland. 

5.Hublot Big Bang Ferrari

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Hublot first created magic with Ferrari in 2012. It was the beginning of a new era for the watchmaker known for its edgy timepieces and creative collaborations with a slew of artists, sports stars and Hollywood top shots. Modelled after the dashing Ferrari cars, the collection has a range of awe-inspiring watches including the super sexy Big Bang Ferrari Magic Gold. Developed in partnership with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Magic Gold is the hardest variety of gold in the world. While the standard 18-carat gold has a resistance of 400 Vickers and hardened steel 600 Vickers, Magic Gold has a resistance of 1,000 Vickers. Entirely produced in-house at the Hublot Manufacture in Nyon the scratch-resistant alloy has been cleverly used in the Unico model bestowed with elements from the world of motor racing.  While the date aperture is displayed in a gear selector mode, there is a prancing horse at 6 o’clock and a second counter designed like an air extractor at 9 o’clock. The watch is strapped onto black alcantara sewn onto black rubber and has the red topstitching of the Ferrari upholstery. The HUB1241 movement guarantees a power reserve of 72 hours and beats at a rhythm of 28,800 vibrations per hour.

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