Since the Benz Patent Motor Car rattled its way out of Karl Benz’s garage in 1886, there has been a centuries-long connection between car enthusiasts and watch nerds.
Whether it’s down to the individual’s love of aesthetics, the creative use of exotic materials, a love for mechanical engineering, or something else completely unexplored, the link between the two parties isn’t going anywhere soon.
With that in mind - and to align with the fact we’ve just opened the Dyler Shop - these are some of the greatest modern-day automotive inspired watches you can buy today.
Arguably the most famous motorsport-inspired watch of all time, the Rolex Daytona has been a staple in The Crown’s catalogue since 1963 and takes its name from the Daytona International Speedway. Since its introduction, only three generations of this eponymous chronograph have been released in 1988, 2000, and 2023. Alongside its motorsport heritage, the Daytona is widely-regarded for its accuracy, and its iconic design featuring three sub-dials at three, six, and nine o’clock displaying a 30-minute counter, small seconds and a 12-hour counter respectively. From the first running of the Rolex 24 in the early 1960s, it has since been awarded to the winners of the race. Subsequently, it has been seen on many a famous racer’s wrist including Fernando Alonso, Juan-Pablo Montoya, Mike Rockenfeller, and actor-turned-driver Paul Newman. There is no such thing as an affordable Rolex Daytona. In fact, waiting lists for brand new extend into the years. If, however, you are in the market for a previously-worn piece, then the early “Paul Newman” models and/or one of the later black or white-dial ceramic Cerachrom bezel watches are the most desirable amongst collectors.
As iconic as the Rolex Daytona-yet-much more wallet friendly, the TAG-Heuer Monaco shot to fame after being worn by Steve McQueen in the 1971 classic, Le Mans. The unique square-form case of the Monaco is what separates it from the rest of the other luxury motorsport watches on this list, and a testament to its timeless design is that it has barely changed in its appearance over the last five decades. From introduction in 1969, the Monaco has been powered by a series of TAG-Heuer and outsourced movements. The latest iterations of the watch are driven by the Swiss brand’s calibre Heuer 02; an automatic movement boasting an impressive 80-hour power reserve. TAG-Heuer’s motorsport credentials are underlined by associations past and present with Red Bull Racing, Audi Sport, Porsche, and Aston Martin. Should the angular, retro appearance of the Monaco not appeal, TAG-Heuer offers the Formula 1 and the Carrera as other racing-inspired alternatives.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Aston Martin
A grand master of high-end watchmaking, Girard-Perregaux joined forces with Aston Martin after the Swiss company emerged as one of the leading sponsors of the British carmaker’s F1 team upon its return to the sport in 2021. The Laureato was first introduced in 1975 as an answer to the “quartz crisis” which arose as a consequence of several Japanese brands fitting their watches with more reliable, more accurate quartz movements than their Swiss rivals, thus forcing the world’s foremost watchmaking nation to rethink its entire ethos. Once-overlooked by comparable sports watches of the era such as the epochal Gérald Genta-penned Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus, the Laureato has also stood the test of time and has remained a regular fixture on the Girard-Perregaux landscape. Now available with a series of self-winding, Girard-Perregaux engineered movements, the watch is also available as a sports chronograph. In Aston Martin guise, the latest-gen Laureato is finished with a dial inspired by the automotive manufacturer ‘AM’ logo it used from 1921-1926. It’s also finished in hard-wearing ceramic; a material lighter than steel. It’s also green. Very, very green…
Nicknamed the “Speedy” and a legend in watch collecting circles, the Omega Speedmaster is best-recognised for its intergalactic adventures; after all, this was the watch worn by the team of astronauts who took part in the NASA moon landing of 1969. Yet when the Swiss made Speedmaster launched in 1957, it was created as a sports and racing chronograph to complement Omega’s position as the official timekeeper of the Olympic games. Whilst the Moonwatch pictured above is the most recognisable version of the Speedy - since its arrival in 1965, changes to its design have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary - Omega has also created a series of motorsport-inspired Speedmasters including a Michael Schumacher edition, and the reimagined Speedmaster 57 - the latter of which features the Broad Arrow hands and dual-chronograph layout first seen on the original watch. Yet despite its retro appearance, the Speedmaster ‘57 is a thoroughly contemporary sports chronograph thanks to Omega’s use of its highly-regarded manual-winding Co-Axial movement as a power source.
Breitling Top Time B01 Ford Mustang/Chevrolet Corvette/Shelby Cobra/Ford Thunderbird
First launched in 1962, the Breitling Top Time was the Swiss brand’s affordable, youth-orientated answer to its much-more serious Navitimer; a legendary timepiece proudly worn by professional pilots around the world since the early 1940s. The Top Time was discontinued for a period, but reappeared in 2020 with all the bold colours, and playful personality of the original. For 2023, Breitling introduced a series of automotive-inspired Top Time watches inspired by the Ford Mustang (green dial), Chevrolet Corvette (red dial), Shelby Cobra (blue dial), and Ford Thunderbird (white dial). Each watch is powered by Breitling’s own calibre B01; an automatic movement with a 70-hour power reserve. Completely unrelated, but the Top Time is also a “B-Side” Bond Watch and appeared on Sean Connery’s wrist in 007’s 1965 adventure, Thunderball.
Bremont Jaguar MkII
You wouldn’t know it from their branding or anything, but Bremont is a staunchly British brand and proud of it - the George Russell of the luxury watch world, if you will. The majority of Bremont’s line of sports watches are inspired by aviation, sailing, and automotive culture. With its E-Type instrument-inspired hour markers, subdials, and Jaguar heritage logo at six o’clock, the Jaguar MkII chronograph combines one of the Big Cat’s greatest designs with contemporary British luxury watchmaking. Unlike an E-Type, you can expect this piece to be reliable thanks to the Swiss made, British developed chronometer-certified automatic movement in the back.
Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control
Chopard is one of those names that flies happily under the radar. Whilst other luxury Swiss watchmakers make a big thing about their motorsport heritage, one of the oldest names in watch circles (Chopard was founded in 1860) just gets on with it. For over 30 years, the Swiss brand has sponsored Italy’s Mille Miglia road race and in 2019, it launched its GTS Power Control to celebrate the occasion. Just 500 pieces of this limited edition watch were produced, and it incorporates design cues from iconic mid-20th century race cars into its construction. Think Porsche 550, Ferrari 315, and Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. The watch’s aesthetic cues include the steel grey dial, ‘Full-to-Empty’ power reserve indicator, and the ‘1000 Miglia’ date window indicator. A further nod to the relationship between Chopard and this historic road race is an engraving of “Brescia > Roma > Brescia” on the rear casing; a nod to the historic event’s route. At the heart of the watch beats Chopard’s very own chronometer-certified calibre 01-08-C movement.
Richard Mille RM UP-01
Created in close cooperation with Ferrari, the Richard Mille RM UP-01 is the world’s thinnest mechanical wrist watch, measuring just 1.75mm in height It is also the most expensive and most exclusive on this list thanks to a listed price of $1.8m USD and a production run of just 150 units. Despite the watch’s thinness, Richard Mille has followed a traditional movement and case construction. This is one of the many reasons why the UP-01 is considered by luxury watch experts around the world to be a technological masterpiece. Like all Richard Mille pieces, the case and manual-winding movement are crafted from high-tech materials. In the case of this ItaloSwiss collab, the material in question is high-end grade 5 titanium, which gives this intriguing-looking thing a wrist weight of just 2.82 grams. Astoundingly, the UP-01 is also water resistant to 100 metres and can withstand forces of up to 1,000G.
IWC x Mercedes AMG Petronas Pilot’s Watch
Once upon a time, IWC were a brand specialising in functional - if not especially attractive - timepieces capable of withstanding a battering. Yet in recent years, IWC has been creating some of the most popular luxury watches around. The brand’s eponymous Pilot’s Watch has been part of the IWC story since the 1930s, and contemporary versions of this characterful piece have earned the brand plenty of fans around the world thanks to its high-quality construction, and a broad range of options in terms of colours, dials, and construction materials. This particular piece, the IWC x Mercedes AMG Petronas Pilot’s Watch, was created to celebrate the successful partnership between the Swiss watchmaker and the multiple championship-winning Formula 1 team. Crafted from brushed titanium, this 41mm watch is finished with the same turquoise detailing found on the Mercedes AMG Formula 1 team’s cars. If the rubber turquoise strap should prove too eye-catching, IWC also supplies the watch with an interchangeable black variant. This automatic watch with its in-house developed movement offering a 46-hour power reserve has also been spied on the wrists of team-members including Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, and Toto Wolff.