5 iconic car inspired watches

And yes, the Rolex Daytona is here, too

In the golden era of motorsport, especially in the 50s, 60s and 70s, watch brands would traditionally give winning drivers and teams a special edition watch to celebrate race victories. This is still common practice, by the way, Ricky Tailor, winner of the 2017 24 Hours of Daytona, was given a two-tone Rolex Daytona ref. 116503.

Former F1 driver Mario Andretti, for example, has an amazing collection of watches, all of which were obtained by winning a race.

To cut a very long story very short, the overlap between watches and cars is huge and in fact, several flagship models from the world's most popular brands were named after an important racing event. There's a million of them and one day, I'd like to write a book about it but in the meantime, I'll start with five, in no particular order. And yes, the Rolex Daytona is one of those watches.

1. Rolex Daytona

The Daytona is one of the most sought after Rolex models in the pre-owned market, as well as one of the most difficult to get new from an AD, and the crazy thing is this watch wasn't particularly popular when it first came out in the 60s. It was relatively easy and cheap to get. I mean, it was expensive of course, it was still a Rolex, but it was attainable. The price had already been going up at a constant rate but things got worse (or better, if you already own one), after the 'Paul Newman' Daytona was sold at auction for a record-breaking $17.75m in 2017.

In 1962, Rolex became the official timekeeper of the Daytona International Speedway in Florida and a year later, in 1963, the Swiss brand unveiled the Reference 6234, followed by the Cosmograph Reference 6239, nicknamed the 'Daytona', after the Speedway. It started out as a simple nickname but it stuck and the rest, as they say, is history.

2. TAG Heuer / Heuer Monaco

In 1966, Edouard Heuer began working on a new project, codenamed Project 99, for the world's first automatic chronograph and then, in 1967, in a world premiere at Geneva Intercontinental, the "Calibre 11" is unveiled, integrated into a square and waterproof case. The production version of the watch was eventually introduced in 1969. It was called the Monaco, as a tribute to the Monaco GP.

The Monaco was widely popularized by Steve McQueen, who wore it the 1971 film Le Mans, and earlier this year, TAG Heuer partnered up with the Automobile Club of Monaco to produce a special version of this timepiece, as a tribute to the Principality of Monaco. By the way, Steve McQueen's actual watch, the one he rocked in the film, is going up for auction on December 12 in New York.

3. TAG Heuer Formula 1

The Formula 1, released in 1986, is a rather important piece in the history of TAG Heuer because it was the first watch ever created by the company following the acquisition of Heuer by TAG. It was a funky and colourful quartz watch, a slightly upmarket alternative inspired by the Swatch watch.

The Formula 1 is one of TAG's best-seller and over the course of the years, they've released a plethora of different variants including upgraded automatic models. They've also released a Gulf-liveried variant and Drivetribe is currently holding a competition (one of many, we hope), giving you the chance to win a Tag Heuer Formula 1 Gulf Chronograph Gulf, worth £1,350. You can click here to enter the competition. UK residents aged 18+ only. See entry page for terms, purchase necessary, ends 23:59 GMT 17/12/20.

4. Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron Tourbillon

Jacob & Co. was founded by Jacob Arabo, an Uzbek-born American diamond designer, in 1986, which means that it doesn't have the same history and heritage as brands like Rolex or Heuer but this particular watch has to be on the list, although it's definitely not in the same breath as the Daytona or the Monaco, because it has an actual working W16 engine in the movement.

Yes, you got that right. The Chiron Tourbillon has a miniatured W16 engine, made of 578 individual parts, as part of the watch movement. This is just another day in the office for Jacob, the brand often releases unique pieces with crazy design and attention to details, such as the Astronomia Art Three Monkeys and the one-off models, Art in Moscow and Art in India.

5. Chopard Mille Miglia

The Mille Miglia started out as an open-road endurance race in 1927. It gave the world top class drivers like Stirling Moss and Tazio Nuvolari but it was also very dangerous, which is why it was eventually discontinued in 1957 for safety reasons. Twenty years later, the Mille Miglia Storica, a regularity race, was created.

In 1988, Chopard became partner and official timekeeper of the race, and the love story between Chopard and the Mille Miglia produced far more than just one timepiece. In fact, the Swiss manufacturer regularly releases Mille Miglia-inspired timepieces as a homage to the 'most beautiful race in the world'.

Join In

Comments (20)

  • So then the lust for cars and watches DO go hand-in-hand.

    That Bugatti Chiron movement is nuts. LOVE IT. Can't afford to even smell it.

      1 month ago
  • What a great collection!!

      1 month ago
  • Chopard for last... I was getting worried it was missed! I remember on the 80’s and 90’s everyone had a tag.

      1 month ago
    • yeah, these watches are listed in no particular order and there so many that deserved a place here but I don't think I could leave the Chopard+Mille Miglia combo out

        1 month ago
  • What about Breitling? Haven’t they been cozy with auto racing for a while?

      1 month ago
  • Great collection! 👍🏻 love that chopard and that Add! 👌Excellent 👏. Afraid I’d get sod all done if I had the Bugatti one cos I’d be sitting there staring at it all day! Mesmerising 😳😳.

      1 month ago
20