The Best Affordable (and Not-So-Affordable) Driving Watches
If you're anything like me, you have some sort of interest in cars, whether it's gawking at the latest Ferraris or other hypercars the ballers and speed demons of the world seem to enjoy. Perhaps you are a guy who loves tinkering and modding your cars for that perfect cruise, drift or ¼ mile time.
One thing that I believe is a must-have for anyone with an interest in cars is a driving watch, whether its a chronograph, or even just a very sporty time-only watch.
Some of the most famous racing drivers out there have worn iconic timepieces, Mario andretti wore many over the years, whether they were won through winning races or through setting lap records or just being Mario Andretti!!
Some notable watches in motorsport are the Heuer Autavia, Heuer Carrera, Heuer Monaco, and the Rolex Daytona, to name a few. They even present a new watch to the winner of the 24hrs of Daytona endurance race as well as at the 24hrs of Le Mans.
Speaking of Le Mans, it is easily the crown jewel of endurance races, various classes of cars race and have raced here. Plenty of classic and priceless cars have been driven there - such as the Ferrari 250 GTO, Aston Martin DBR1, as well as the Ford GT-40 and in modern times, prototype cars (specifically made for endurance racing) as well as modified GT cars. To this day, owners of classic Le Mans racers come back to relive the glory days.
Therefore, with Le Mans starting soon, let's briefly review some watches that can make you feel just a little bit more like a racer while you watch the race… or in my case, feel like a racer while I time my commute!
The Seiko Spirit SBTR series is a great watch to give you the best of both worlds - you get a mecha quartz movement that resets the chrono like a vintage mechanical one, but with high accuracy of a quartz watch. If you search online, they can be had for around $200 CAD plus fees. It has the added benefit of having a Rolex Daytona vibe. I own one, myself!
Some microbrands also produce watches for driving. For example, Omologato watches have a lineup of time only and chronograph watches inspired by racing.
Their chronographs are a great choice, they use a mecha-quartz movement like the Seiko Spirit chrono mentioned above. The dials take inspiration from various classic racing livery and are sometimes even officially licensed and associated with a track. They even have one named after Le Mans. My personal favourites are pictured below:
Now on the less affordable side of things, there are a lot of watches to choose from as well. The Rolex Daytona is an iconic chronograph that is still gifted to winners of 24hrs of Daytona that's where the watch got its name. New models as well as vintage examples are great, if you can afford them.
Heuer and the Tag Heuer reissues of their vintage watches are also great!
The Monaco is associated with Le Mans in another way, it was worn by Steve McQueen in the film of the same name. Originally, the watch wasn't meant to be a racer watch, but it became known as one because of this association.
Heuer also made other notable chronos, such as the Autavia and Carrera. So again if you can afford a vintage or modern reissue of one of these watches you'll also have a killer motoring timepiece.
So, no matter where the road or track takes you, a chronograph on your wrist might just help you feel a little bit more like one of your favourite drivers!
Written by Alex Hooper
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hello! I'm Alex, watch collector, wine enthusiast and amateur chef.
When I'm not working, I'm usually found cooking, wine tasting or finding that next piece for the collection! I've been a watch collector for 5 years, and my collection has had its ups and downs, but I've learned a lot along the way. So I'll be here, sharing my knowledge and opinions on watches - whether it's about what goes with a suit or shorts...