It goes without saying, but certain industries rely heavily on time. It’s easy to forget in a world of effortless digital timekeeping, but historically when humankind has pushed itself to its limits, it has tended to design and innovate the recording of time, creating some of the most beautiful and complex pieces of engineering. That is how we ended up with the iconic racing watch. A luxury horological piece built for accurate timekeeping and quantifying the elements of racing.
Digital timekeeping may well have left analogue in it its wake but the persistent allure of a racing watch remains. If you’re on the hunt for a stylish, timeless luxury watch with added features, look no further. We’ve got you covered. Scroll on for our pick of the best racing watches for men in 2024.
What is a racing watch?
A racing watch is a watch that was originally designed for the recording of time in racing. Originally it was motor racing, but the popularity of this style of watch soon transferred to the likes of motorcycle racing, horse racing and sailing. Racers needed a watch that was able to record and measure time, speed, laps and distance and the luxury watchmakers delivered. Design and visuals mirrored the challenges and variables of racing itself. Rubber and leather watch straps reflected the interiors of cars and racing attire, whilst perforated leather driving gloves or clean metal interiors were also represented by materials on the wrist.
Features were practical. Chronographs (in-built stopwatches) were integrated for simple one-touch start, stop and reset timekeeping. Tachymeter scales measured the speed at which the wearer was going whilst dials were made with visual contrast in mind so that glancing drivers could quickly note the time when traveling at high speed.
Best racing watches for men in 2024
IWC IW357001 Ingenieur Automatic
Let’s take it right back to the 1950s. This IWC Schaffhausen is a minimalist, stylish ode to the iconic design of the original Ingenieur series from the post-war era. The IW357001 Ingenieur Automatic is an automatic, self-winding timepiece with brushed stainless steel case and silver-plated dial. The beauty is in its modesty. The contrast of a steel body and sleek black alligator leather strap. Made in Switzerland, it’s an iconic piece showcasing the finest watchmaking, the ideal racing watch for those that prefer a cleaner dial and a simpler but nonetheless sleek timepiece.
Breitling Tom Time Deus
If the slightest whiff of anything petrol-fuelled excites you then you’ll be more than aware of the brand Deus Ex-Machina. The Australian lifestyle brand, with a penchant for riding to tropical surf spots on wonderfully rogue dirt bikes, has teamed up with horological big hitter Breitling and the result is a sight to behold. The Top Time Deus is a luxurious racing watch with the care-free fun of the motorcycle brand, all bright-faced and calf-skin leather strap. The Top Time was launched in the 1960s and carries a distinctive care-free spirit. The watch features a stainless steel case, a self-winding mechanical movement and 48 hour power reserve. The ideal racing watch for the travel-minded person on the go.
TAG Heuer Monaco
A striking square face defines the TAG Heuer Monaco chronograph, a timeless vintage watch design. The first Monaco to be fitted with an in-house Heuer 02 movement, the metallic sunburst blue dial with silver and white details stands out with two subdials punctuating a watch supercharged for performance. A stylish rebellious timepiece favoured by none other than Steve McQueen in his 1970s racing heyday. A blue leather watch strap only adds to the watch’s striking display and a complimentary travel case in black leather (when bought online) adds to the brand’s iconic offering. If it’s good enough for Steve, it’s certainly good enough for us.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
We couldn’t put together a list of racing watches without including the Rolex Daytona. A true work of art, as iconic as any piece of design out there. The Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona was designed to be the ultimate timing tool for endurance racing drivers and it certainly looks the part in Oystersteel with a white dial and oyster bracelet. The black Cerachrom bezel with tachymetric scale is the icing on the cake. Fifty years on from its creation, the popularity of this timepiece has done nothing but increase. That bezel is able to measure average speeds of up to 400 miles per hour with a 4130 movement inside for performance at all costs.
Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer Chronograph
If ever there was a high-performance chronograph that did what it said on the tin, it’s Omega’s Speedmaster steel chronograph. Steel on steel. The first Omega timepiece to feature the brand’s Spirate™ System (released in 2023), the watch has a black sandwich dial with honeycomb pattern, black ceramin bezel ring with tachymeter scale and a yellow contrast dial that packs serious visibility. Date, timezone, chronograph and small second functions provide multiple performance options in what is a highly technical piece from Omega. A performance piece doesn’t take away from the sleekness of classic stainless steel strapped racing chronographs.
G-Shock Watch Worldtime Alarm
On the digital side of the racing watches spectrum, the G-Shock is an icon for a reason. Look at it. That extra large case will take a beating and whilst digital might not be as favoured in motor racing, you’ll certainly see them on the wrists of athletes, adventurers and military personnel. The G-Shock Watch Alarm chronograph GD-100MS-3ER is packed full of features including a split LCD display for viewing simultaneous data, an auto-LED light, world time and mute functions and 200-metres water resistance. It’s also shock, vibration and low-temperature resistant.
Tissot T-Race Chronograph
The Tissot T-Race is a handsome chronograph indeed. Bold but no less elegant. A black and rose gold colour combination defines a piece inspired by the brand’s long-term involvement in motorcycle racing. A Swiss quartz movement, sapphire crystal, a stainless steel case and comfortable black rubber strap make for a serious all-rounder. There’s innovation in there too. Superluminova-covered hands and dials ensure the best possible visibility in all conditions so that readability is optimised.