A race car is a work of art, and so too are the watches they inspire.
The world of watches has historically intersected with other circles of passion: Diving flourished hand in hand with new waterproof watches, aviators who were pioneers of flight needed specifically designed easy-to-read watches, and the necessity to time every lap intertwined the history of auto racing and timepieces. It’s easy to imagine that after the first time someone jumped into the driver’s seat of a car and sped away, they were wondering how fast they were going. Clocks in cars turned into chronographs in race cars, capable of timing laps and accurately keeping track of pace around the circuit. These in-car chronographs inspired the first racing chronographs for both the pocket and the wrist. Companies like Heuer were involved in racing from the very beginning, making specialized watches to time the race. They then became one of the first companies to sponsor teams and races, with a particular focus on Formula 1. Today, Formula 1 has an overall watch sponsor, Rolex, and each individual team is also sponsored by a different watch brand ranging from Casio to Richard Mille. With the 2022 Formula 1 season coming up on its last race of the season, it’s a great time to show off some of the pre-owned watches we have in the Hodinkee Shop that originate or are inspired by the world of car racing.
OMEGA Speedmaster Reduced Michael Schumacher 3510.61.00
Mixed in among the many Speedmaster watches out in the world, there are ten different versions dedicated to one of the greatest racing drivers of all time, Michael Schumacher. In 1996 OMEGA jumped into the world of Formula 1 by bringing in Schumacher as their spokesman and launched the Speedmaster Reduced line in red, yellow, and eventually blue. The smaller 39mm size and automatic movement made the standard Speedmaster Reduced a popular watch, but the colors on the Schumacher versions were not initially as popular. Today, colors on watches have become more the norm, and as a result, some older watches like these OMEGA Schumacher watches are seeing a resurgence in interest. For a more in-depth history of Schumacher watches, check out
this video, featuring yours truly.
TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 Steve McQueen CAW211P
Heuer has one of the longest histories in racing, as they were the first watch company to sponsor a Formula 1 team in 1972 with Ferrari. They went on to sponsor drivers like Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, and Ayrton Senna. This tradition continues today with the sponsorship of Red Bull Racing and its two-time world champion Max Verstappen. With this storied history in their back pocket, TAG Heuer has developed memorable watches, like the Monza and Silverstone, that are named after Formula 1 circuits. TAG Heuer also has a collection of watches simply called Formula 1. The Monaco, however, is the most famous of them all – a watch named after one of the oldest races that still takes place on the streets of the fabulously wealthy micronation. This edition of the Monaco is a modern take on the watch made famous by Steve McQueen when he wore it for LeMans, a movie about the grueling 24-hour endurance race that takes place every year in LeMans, France.
OMEGA Speedmaster Racing Co-Axial Chronograph 3188.8.131.52.06.001
It’s well known that the Speedmaster was originally meant for the racetrack before it beat out the competition – and went on to time the lifesaving rocket burn of Apollo 13. With that level of bragging rights under its belt, the original Speedmaster Professional evolved to become the moon watch, but OMEGA still didn’t give up on making wristwatches for the track. This generation of Speedmaster Racing was part of the early Co-Axial watches released by OMEGA. They came in white, blue, red, black, and my personal favorite: The black with yellow accent is paired with a matching tire tread rubber strap. The yellow is easy to read with the black background of the dial, and it’s reminiscent of the OMEGA Dynamic watches from a decade earlier. With classic twisted lugs, a tachymeter bezel, and three registers, this watch lets you know it’s a Speedmaster, this time made for Earth’s atmosphere.
IWC Pilot Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One™ Team” IW3881-08
IWC has enjoyed being the watch sponsor of the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team during their seven consecutive driver championships, and eight consecutive constructor championship titles. In May 2022, the inaugural Miami Grand Prix took place. This event was celebrated by IWC and Mercedes with a new watch inspired by the city. This special edition comes with a Miami-inspired teal blue on every hand number and piece of stitching. The result is a colorful watch with enough Miami flavor to have you confidently going into Versailles and ordering your cafecito and pastelito before heading out to Ocean Drive.
Rolex Daytona 116520
The Daytona has had many lives. The original name of the watch was the Cosmograph, but with the Rolex sponsorship of the 24-Hours of Daytona endurance race, the watches began to have the Daytona name on the dial as well. The Cosmograph script never left the dial, but the watch is now simply referred to by the name racing gave it – the Daytona. It was one of the watches that fell short in NASA’s testing for spaceflight and languished in dealer’s cases for most of its production run. There are even ads in newspapers with dealers looking to buy any Rolex – except the Daytona. it’s also important to point out that the watch had some early fans, like the famous actor, philanthropist, and race car driver Paul Newman. But in the 1990s, things changed. The Daytona began to pick up interest from the general public, and as the Rolex brand grew, steel watches became more popular, along with automatic versions of the watch that were finally made available. Today, the Daytona is one of the hardest watches to find and is undoubtedly one of the most famous racing watches. The 116520 comes with the in-house 4130 movement and is part of the last generation of steel bezels.
For more pre-owned watches, check out the Hodinkee Shop.