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23 of the Coolest Watches Inspired by Iconic Cars

olex Cosmograph Daytona M126529LN

Let’s not beat around the bush too much; cars and watches have a lot in common. They’re both about that particular blending of fine mechanics and iconic design, each with their own famous faces and legendary producers. The only real difference is a matter of scale and more often than not and, while there aren’t exactly any cars based on watches, the opposite is the case in the watch world.

In fact, whether it’s a tribute to a legendary car, the livery of a particular racer, or architectural elements drawn from motors that would the grail of any collection, there’s a lot of automotive inspiration lifted directly from very specific cars. Here then are the frontrunners in that very specific race. Here is our list of the best automotive themed watches of 2023. Click the links below to search by price.

Under £1,000

Omologato Classic Timer 722 Mille Miglia

Omologato Classic Timer 722 Mille Miglia

The new Classic Timer is automotive-led watch studio Omologato’s first automatic and a serious step for the ultra-cool petrolhead brand. And while the entire collection is an ode to racing, it’s the 722 Mille Miglia that’s perhaps most evocative. The 722 in the name and on the dial refers to the starting time of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, driven by the legendary Sir Stirling Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson, which completed the 1,000-mile long race at an average speed of 98.53 mph. It’s a great motorsport moment and dressed in the same red and grey colours as the car, it’s a great-looking watch too.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter stainless steel case, silver dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Miyota calibre 9122 automatic movement with 40h power reserve
Strap: Black leather
Price: £600, limited to 72 pieces

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Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph Vic Elford 1969

Autodromo Prototipo Chronograph Vic Elford 1969 Edition

While the colourful dial of Autodromo’s retro chronograph would be at home on the modern F1 circuit, its inspiration actually comes from the 1960s – specifically the 908/02 of legendary rally driver Vic Elford that he raced to second place at the 1969 Targa Florio in Sicily. It’s a gorgeous mix of white, bright blue, and red highlights, with a racy, tricompax chronograph layout all in a funky case that embodies high-octane vintage style. It’s at the more accessible end of the spectrum with a Seiko movement, but it’s a heavy hitter in looks.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter, stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Seiko VK63 meca-quartz movement
Strap: Leather
Price: £740, limited to 350 pieces

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Yema Rallygraf Alpine Endurance Team

Yema Rallygraf Alpine Endurance Team

The second watch devoted to Alpine racing on this list, Yema have instead opted for the Endurance team, tackline Le Mans over F1. In typical Yema style, the Rallygraf is a 1970s retro racing beauty, complete with a bi-directional rotating tachymeter bezel (to get around not including a chronograph). This time there are a few hints of Alpine blue lifted from the endurance car, mainly on the inner bezel numbering and the central seconds hand, again with the same Alpine A counterweight that we saw on the Bell & Ross. Aside from its good looks, there’s also something that really sets the Yema apart: accessibility. At under £800, it’s a lot of watch for the money and one of the most affordable racing-inspired watches here – and with an in-house movement at that.

Case/dial: 39mm diameter x 11.85mm thickness, stainless steel case, matte black dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Yema2000 automatic movement with 42h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet or black leather
Price: $990 (approx. £770)

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£1,000 – £5,000

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC

Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Healey Automatic COSC

Frederique Constant have been celebrating vintage rallies for 17 years, a good chunk of their time in existence, and the latest in that long line of classic automotive pieces is devoted to none other than Austin Healey. It’s about as restrained as you might expect, complete with a British racing green dial and relatively subtle marque branding. The main event is the caseback, which has a charmingly engraved Healey tearing down a country road. If you ever need inspiration around where to wear this particular piece, all you need do is flip it over.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 10.3mm thickness, stainless steel case, british racing green dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Frederique Constant FC-301 automatic movement with 38h power reserve
Strap: Leather
Price: £1,595

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Farer Chronograph Sport Titanium Bernina

Farer Chronograph Sport Titanium Bernina

The Bernina Chronograph Sport Titanium is a colourway inspired by iconic rally races in the Alpine valleys around St. Moritz. It’s actually a colourway Farer have returned to several times, which is rare for them. The signature colour combination here is white and red with a combination of various white and off-whites across the bezel, dial and subdials providing subtle contrasts. There’s also a hint of sky blue on the small seconds, telemeter scale (unique to the Bernina model) and tachymeter.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 12.9mm thickness, titanium case, matte off-white dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Sellita SW510M b manual winding movement with 63h power reserve
Strap: Leather with buckle fastening
Price: £1,775

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De Rijke and Co Amalfi 1S Vespa White

De Rijke & Co. Amalfi 1S Vespa White

The De Rijke and Co. Amalfi 1S is automotive inspired in a different way to most of the watches here because its inception doesn’t hark back to a car but a Vespa. Specifically, the Vespa that the brand’s owner rode on an incredible roadtrip, hence the name of the white colourway, Vespa White. However, while a scooter was the inspiration, the watch itself is more suited to cars as it has a rotating dial that can be shifted so that you can easily read the piece when your hands are on the wheel.

Case/dial: 38mm diameter, brushed stainless steel, black dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW210, manual, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 40h power reserve
Strap: NATO fabric
Price: €2,145 (approx. £1,865)

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REC 901 GW Chelsea

REC 901 GW Chelsea

Of course, REC were going to be on here somewhere. When they’re not salvaging aircraft and satellites, they’re stripping rare cars for parts to including in their watches. They’re not just inspired by cars; they’re built from them. Case in point, their collaboration with intense automotive customiser Gunther Werks, the 901 GW Chelsea, which includes recycled carbon fibre from the German specialist’s first customer commission, the Chelsea Grey. A big, bold, gloriously over-engineered tricompax chronograph, it’s just as modern and machined as you’d expect from both REC and Gunther Werks.

Case/dial: 44mm diameter x 14.3mm thickness, stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Sellita SW510 B automatic movement with 62h power reserve
Strap: Leather
Price: £1,995, limited to 232 pieces

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Van Brague Bentley Racer No.22

Van Brague Bentley Racer No.22

Taking overt inspiration from vintage Bentley racers, this is a lovely, green-tinted and architectural take on the theme and the kind of elegant yet practical instrument you’d expect from a classic dashboard clock. The theme’s much more obvious on the caseback, a tribute to Bentley of the 1930s – the Double Twelve in particular – and another nod to the Brooklands race track. As is the case with every Van Brauge watch, it also comes in one of the best presentation boxes around; if you mistake it for a marque-focused coffee table book, that’s kind of the point.

Case/dial: 43mm diameter x 13mm thickness, brushed stainless steel, black dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Van Brague VB – 24A automatic movement with 38h power reserve
Strap: Leather with stainless steel buckle
Price: £1,995, limited to 75 pieces

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Reservoir GT Tour

Reservoir GT Tour

Given the aesthetic similarities with speedometers, retrograde displays and cars are natural bedfellows, so it was perhaps inevitable that Reservoir would tackle a racing watch. Of course, Reservoir have also amped up the aesthetic links by including a fuel gauge power reserve and screws that make it look even more ripped out of a dashboard than a Bell & Ross. It wears its inspirations on its sleeve and does so in an easily readable, slick ode to high-speed antics. At 43mm it’s relatively large for such a streamlined dial, but that only serves to amp up the sports vibes, particularly on the perforated leather strap.

Case/dial: 43mm diameter, stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Reservoir RSV-240 automatic movement with 56h power reserve
Strap: Black leather with stainless steel butterfly clasp
Price: £3,950

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£5,000 – £20,000

Bremont Jaguar C-Type

Bremont Jaguar C-Type

Back in 1953, the legendary Jaguar C-Type dominated Le Mans like few others have managed to do, taking first, second and fourth places in one fell swoop. Fast forward 70 years and Bremont are paying tribute to that historic win with their latest automotive partnership watch, the aptly-named Jaguar C-Type. A tachymeter-equipped chronograph a good bit more vintage in personality than Bremont usually opt for. The handsome, bicompax, reverse panda dial is an homage to the racing timers of yore, while the stainless steel bezel is ripped from disc brakes of its namesake car. Unusually though, each will be built to order, so don’t expect to find one in stock anywhere.

Case/dial: 43mm diameter x 15.8mm thickness, stainless steel, silver plated multi-level dial
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Bremont modified BE-50AV automatic movement with 42h power reserve
Strap: Brown leather
Price: £5,695

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Brooklands Triple-Four

Brooklands Triple-Four

If you’ve read our article on Gentleman Racers – or have a penchant for British racing history – Brooklands will be a familiar name to you. The legendary race track made automotive history out of drivers and cars alike, a heritage the Brooklands Watch Company is tapping into with the Triple-Four. Named after the engine of the Napier-Railton racer and designed by esteemed British aesthete Sir Terence Conran, the Triple-Four is one of the more distinctive racing chronographs out there, with a vertically bi-compax layout and a combination of broad, cream dial and white subdials, and rounded date window. Despite the British inspiration, it’s a Swiss-made watch, right down to the Sellita movement – albeit one fitted with a custom, engine-inspired rotor. As debuts go, it’s a confident one.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter stainless steel case with heritage white dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Sellita SW500 BV b automatic movement with 62h power reserve
Strap: Blue leather
Price: £5,754

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Breitling Top Time B01 Classic Cars Thunderbird

Breitling Top Time B01 Classic Cars Thunderbird

Once again Breitling have embraced the classic car world with their racing-inspired Top Time collection, this time welcoming a new grid of automotive liveries. Of the quartet of Mustang, Cobra, Corvette and Thunderbird, the latter is my favourite – a vintage flavoured mix of cream and racing highlighted red. The 1960s-slanted tricompax chrono is defined by its retro, squared subdials and warning highlighted tachymeter for a proper ‘60s-style racing watch. Backed by Breitling’s flagship movement, the B01 and set on a perforated leather strap, it’s one of the coolest Breitlings available right now. Which is saying something, honestly.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 13.3mm thickness, stainless steel case, white dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Breitling calibre 01 automatic movement with 70h power reserve
Strap: Leather
Price: £6,250

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Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono A523

Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono A523

The first of two Alpine watches on this list, Bell & Ross have the honour of collaborating with the Alpine F1 team and the result is the raciest of their usually cockpit-inspired watches yet. Equipping the sports luxe industrial vibes of the BR 05 with a funky, tachymeter-equipped chronograph makes for one of the more interesting racing watches around, even if the Avengers-esque second hand counterweight is a little on-the-nose. Flashes of the Alpine team blue make for handsome highlights and the integrated bracelet really hammers home the sporting inspirations. I’m already a fan of the BR 05 – I think it’s the best of the Bell & Ross bunch, personally – and this is just the icing on the cake.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 14.25mm thickness, stainless steel case, black dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: BR-CAL.326. automatic movement with 60h power reserve
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: £6,600, limited to 500 pieces

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IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Edition Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Edition Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

Unwieldy name aside, IWC’s team watch for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team is a gorgeous take on the Schaffhausen-based watchmaker’s flagship collection. The team’s signature turquoise-adjacent livery is represented aplenty across indexes, numerals, hands, strap and even a dash on the sapphire caseback, which is all good – the more of that colour painted everywhere, the better. Otherwise, it’s the high contrast pilot we know and love, just in a lightweight titanium case. It’s cool enough that I’m already thinking about which other IWC pieces this blueish revamp might work with…

Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 14.5mm thickness, titanium case, black dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: IWC 69385 automatic movement with 46h power reserve
Strap: Black embossed calfskin with additional rubber strap
Price: £7,350

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Chopard Classic Chronograph Mille Miglia

Chopard Classic Chronograph Mille Miglia

If you’re a true petrolhead then you’ll be familiar with the Mille Miglia race, one of the most famous historical motor races of all time. In celebration of this race, Chopard have created a series of sporty watches, the most recent of which is the Chopard Classic Chronograph Mille Miglia. It’s a tricompax chrono with an engine turned finish that gives a sports car-esque appearance across the dial. It’s a cool looking watch in honour of a cool race.

Case/dial: 40.5mm diameter x 12.88mm thickness, stainless steel case, Nero Corsa black dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Chopard automatic movement with 54h power reserve
Strap: Black rubber with stainless steel pin buckle
Price: £8,030

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Tag Heuer Monaco Racing Blue

Tag Heuer Monaco Racing Blue

They may be celebrating 60 years of the Carrera – in case you somehow missed the cover of this issue – but the Monaco is arguably the more iconic racing watch and a Steve McQueen classic. And while Girard-Perregaux embrace British racing green, TAG Heuer have done the same with French Racing Blue, albeit to a slightly lesser extreme. Here the signature colours on the subdials, indexes and strap, a pretty light touch, with an otherwise classic silver dial and a bright yellow chronograph seconds hand. The result is a colourful but wearable take on a racing icon that’s hard not to love.

Case/dial: 39mm diameter, titanium case, sunray brushed grey dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Tag Heuer calibre 11 automatic movement with 40h power reserve
Strap: Leather
Price: £8,050, limited to 1,000 pieces

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Porsche Design Chronograph 1 911 st

Porsche Design Chronograph 1 911 S/T

It goes without saying that Porsche Design and Porsche cars go hand-in-hand. While they’re not quite the same entity, they did have the same designer and to this day hold close case. Hence this, Porsche Design’s horological tribute to Porsche cars’ recent 911 S/T. A streamlined, sharply machined ode to German aesthetics, it has all the racing pedigree you want from a tachymeter-equipped chronograph, taking design cues from the vintage 911 S/T 2.4, a 1970s racing spec version of the iconic original car. The new ultra-speedy 911 S/T will of course be limited, but so will this watch – that’s because to own it, you need to own the car. Not the worst caveat in the world if you can afford it.

Case/dial: 40.8mm diameter x 15.15mm thickness, titanium case, matte black dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Porsche design WERK 01.240 automatic movement with 48h power reserve
Strap: Titanium bracelet
Price: $13,500 (approx. £10,700), limited to 1,963 pieces

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£20,000+

Girard Perregaux Laureato Green Ceramic Aston Martin EditionGirard-Perregaux Laureato Green Ceramic Aston Martin Edition

There aren’t many car and watch pairings more high-profile than that of Girard-Perregaux and Aston Martin, and while in an ideal world it would be a marriage of British brands, it’s hard to argue that the Laureato is a gorgeous model for the legendary marque to make their own. It all kicked off with a green, Aston Martin-flavoured engraved dial and now that British racing hue has been lavished onto the 42mm case too, an uninterrupted stretch of green ceramic. It still has all the 1970s charm of the Laureato and if you couldn’t pick out the dial pattern as Aston Martin it would just be a seriously handsome ceramic watch, right down to the alternately brushed and polished bracelet. The car link is just a heady benefit for any watch collecting petrolheads out there. You know who you are.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 11.08mm thickness, green ceramic case, sunray green dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Girard-Perregaux GP01800 automatic movement with 54h power reserve
Strap: Green ceramic bracelet
Price: £21,900, limited to 388 pieces

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Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921

Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921

One of the coolest driving watches ever produced, at least in my opinion, is the Vacheron Constantin American. Reimagined in modern form as the Historiques American 1921 in white gold. The dial and crown are rotated 45 degrees so that when you’re holding the steering wheel, the dial is in a vertical position. It’s one of the few watches where whether you wear it on the left or right arm has a big impact on how it wears but that just adds to its charm.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 8.06mm thickness, pink gold case, white dial
Water resistance: 30m (3 bar)
Movement: Vacheron Constantin 4400 AS manual winding movement with 65h power reserve
Strap: Alligator
Price: £38,900

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Rolex Daytona Le Mans Edition

Rolex Daytona Le Mans Edition Ref. 126529LN

In the list of famous motor races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is right at the top of the list. And in the list of famous chronographs, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is at the top. So, it makes sense that for the 100th anniversary of the race these two icons to came together to create the Daytona Le Mans Edition Ref. 126529LN. It’s a reverse panda tricompax dial with tachymeter bezel that has the 100 numeral highlighted red for the occasion.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter, white gold case, bright black and intense white dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Rolex 4132 automatic movement with 72h power reserve
Strap: 18k white gold bracelet
Price: £43,300

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Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Huracán Sterrato MB

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Huracán Sterrato MB

For anyone not too well-versed in hypercars, the Excalibur Spider Flyback Chronograph is par for Roger Dubuis’ very particular course: skeletonised high-end watchmaking at its most extreme, with stylised bridges aplenty. In this case however, the petrol-headed among you will notice that those bridges are lifted from the architecture of the Lamborghini Huracan. It’s a partnership made in architectural heaven.

It’s also as big and brash as any hypercar, measuring in at 45mm across, with black DLC contrasting with bright blue highlights and a streetwear worthy off-road camo strap. It’s a limited edition, but so is every Roger Dubuis, so the 28 piece run is actually a decent amount. Either way, it’s not the kind of piece you miss on someone’s wrist.

Case/dial: 45mm diameter carbon case, black DLC titanium bezel, red skeletonised dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Roger Dubuis automatic movement with 60h power reserve
Strap: Fiery camo pattern
Price: £59,500, limited to 28 pieces

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Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron Sapphire Crystal Clear

Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron Sapphire Crystal Clear

There’s automotive inspired horology and then there’s horology as automotives. Which is a slighty weird way of saying that Jacob & Co. have managed to create a working model of an engine using clockwork. It’s a model of the Bugatti Chiron 16-cylinder engine, which is viewable from every angle thanks to the completely sapphire case. An expression of luxury watchmaking at its most extreme and hyper cars at their most extreme too.

Case/dial: 38mm diameter, brushed stainless steel, black dial
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW210, manual, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 40h power reserve
Strap: NATO fabric
Price: Price on request, limited to 7 pieces

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Richard Mille Ferrari UP-01

Richard Mille Ferrari UP-01

The Richard Mille Ferrari UP-01 is mostly qualifies for this article because it has Ferrari in the name and Ferrari on the dial. In practicality it has very little to do with motoring although the argument can be made that much as top car manufactures explore the limits of possibility, so too does the UP-01. It’s the world’s thinnest mechanical wristwatch at time of writing, measuring just 1.75mm thick. To achieve this level of svelte, the ultra-flat calibre features a patented extra barrel and redesigned escapement architecture, which involves removing the small plate of the balance and the dart (guard pin) and replacing them with new anti-reversal elements.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter stainless steel case with DLC coating, white dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Miyota calibre 9015, automatic, 24 jewels, 28,800 vph (4 Hz) frequency, 42h power reserve
Strap: Canvas strap with quick release pins
Price: $1,888,000 (approx. 1,500,000)

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