Call it fact or phenomenon; car people love sport watches, particularly mechanical chronographs and diver’s models. There are several makes and models that command the most popularity (and often the highest prices) but at least three kings of this road.  

At or near the top of this heap is the Rolex Daytona Cosmograph, a 3-dial Chrono available in all stainless steel, steel/gold “bimetal” combination, or solid yellow or white gold. 

 Launched in 1963, it is named Daytona in recognition of Rolex’s longtime sponsorship and association with Florida’s Daytona International Speedway, which to this day awards winners of the 24-hour sports car endurance race at this famous race track with Rolex watches along with their trophy and prize money.  

Gold Ferrari Chrono

 Another longtime player in the motorsport watch scene is the Omega Speedmaster Professional, a 3-dial Chrono with a tachymeter bezel. Even though this is the watch that went into space and to the moon with NASA astronauts, the original Speedy (and its derivative models) is a favorite among enthusiast drivers and racers. It’s tough, purely mechanical, and looks much the same now as it did when launched in the 1960s. Also available in steel or gold.  

The third member of this desirable triumvirate is the square-cased Heuer (now TAG Heuer) Monaco. The Monaco was designed and introduced in the late 1960s as the world’s first self-winding mechanical two-dial Chrono that featured a calendar. The original “pure” Heuer version’s most unique design feature, besides the shape of its case, is that of the earliest versions. They put the chronograph pushbuttons on the right side of the case while the winding stem is on the left. 

Original Heuer Monaco of 1969 with winder on left and pushbuttons on right.

This watch was made instantly famous when Steve McQueen wore one as Porsche racing driver Michael Delaney, in his motorsport magnum opus Le Mans of 1971. Ultimately the winder and the pushers were redesigned to be located together to the right side of the watchcase.

The original Heuer company and brand was later reborn as TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde) Heuer. TAG is an advanced technology holdings company involved in aviation, hospitality, and motorsport. Some of you will remember seeing the all caps TAG logo on certain F1 engines in the late 80s.  

Today TAG Heuer is wholly owned by the Louis Vitton Moet Hennessey (LVMH) luxury goods brand. TAG Heuer, in a move to update and reissue several of the more iconic Heuer models, launched a new line of Monacos, available with the original sapphire blue main dial, black, and even a Gulf liveried edition to connect to the Porsche 917s that McQueen drove in the film. 

Steve McQueen watch
Steve McQueens actual Submariner

The car/watch connection is logical; cars, of course, are very mechanical, and watches are mechanical things too. Cars have engines, and watches have their own “engines,” particularly in terms of complex mechanical movements. While this enthusiasm is in no way restricted to males only, it is certain that for many men, a watch is their only, or at least primary, form of expressive jewelry. 

With that in mind, we asked Ulrich Wohn, TAG Heuer CEO, what makes this connection so strong? Is the “car guy watch” thing because of the mechanicalness of these watches, more about design and metallurgical aspects, or perhaps emblematic of a “racy” type of lifestyle. Wohn agreed that all of these reasons are logical and likely legitimate, but added that “we believe it’s much more the emotional connection to owning and wearing fine timepieces” that really drives this enthusiasm.  

Carmakers have jumped big-time onto this bandwagon. Nearly all premium automotive brands have some sort of official watch brand connection. Ferrari, since the 1950s, has commissioned or licensed a wide variety of watches wearing its world-famous logo. Initially, these pieces were made in small quantity, most often given as gifts from company scion Enzo Ferrari, to Ferrari team racing drivers, certain employees, friends, sponsors and others inside Signore Ferrari’s inner circle.  

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By: Matt Stone
Title: MotorSport Watches – Your Road to Automotive-Inspired Watches
Sourced From:
Published Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2021 02:43:37 +0000

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