Motorsport and timekeeping have been intertwined for ages, and as much as either scene evolves, the two realms shall never be parted. Decades ago Steve McQueen fell in love with the Heuer Monaco and the Rolex Submariner, and just this past year Richard Mille announced their sponsorship of Mclaren-Honda’s F1 efforts.
Whether we’re talking about the use of innovative materials, or simply drawing visual inspiration from the design of dashboard gauges and other auto styling cues, there are plenty of ways to show your love of motorsport with a new piece of wristwear. Most of our picks are new releases for 2016, however there were a couple gems in the pack that really couldn’t be glossed over.
Baume & Mercier Capeland Shelby Cobra
While Baume & Mercier doesn’t actually have any standing history to speak of with Carroll Shelby and his glorious (not to mention fast as hell) Cobras, this limited-edition Capeland is a welcome addition to the brand’s collection that includes a number of other pieces with a fairly vintage vibe to them.
A contrasting tachymeter around the outside of the minute ring and a set of very simple legible, and dashboard-esque subdials give the piece a tasteful dose of motorsport in a substantial 44mm stainless steel case.
Oris Williams Chronograph Carbon Fibre Extreme
Oris takes a quite different approach with their automotive-inspired watches, and for good reason — the brand is an official sponsor of Valtteri Bottas and the Williams F1 team (as well as the Audi Sport team that competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship).
A lightweight carbon fiber case houses a modified ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement lurking behind a clean and legible black dial with bright blue accents. The parallel of a strong and reliable engine in a lightweight structure is hard to ignore when you really think about it.
Zenith El Primero Classic Cars
Zenith put a great deal of time into their motorsport-based endeavors for 2016 (including a limited release series of watches for the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association that was launched in Manhattan this spring), but the true standout release of the year is easily the El Primero Classic Cars.
A bit of a twist on the El Primero Original, the Classic Cars model boasts a larger 42mm, but most notably its dial boasts a vertically striped brushing that’s an interesting take on the honed finish of the inside of an engine’s cylinders. Zenith calls this a “brushed engine pattern,” but no matter what you call it, anyone who’s ever torn down an engine will appreciate the design cue.
TAG Heuer Monza
TAG’s new Monza was one of our favorites of Baselworld this year, not to mention one of the brand’s biggest hits in years. We love a good vintage reissue any day of the week, of course, but the Monza is one of the best we’ve seen in ages. The reissue tips its hat to the original black PVD Monza that Jack Heuer designed to celebrate Niki Lauda’s first championship in 1976.
Instead of using PVD-coated steel, it uses a more modern grade 5 titanium case that is coated in titanium carbide, which is expected to last much longer than the old coatings used back in the day.
Bulgari Diagono Magnesium
This Bulgari is a bit of an unconventional choice when talking about motorsport inspiration, but there’s a method behind our madness here. Nicola Bulgari is absolutely obsessed with classic cars — something we learned when invited to explore his car collection — and that passion frequently trickles into the brand’s timepieces.
Opting for magnesium as a case material both for its lightness and its strength is a bit of a motorsports play, but more than that, the red coating used on its dial and case is the exact same that is used by Bulgari’s Italian friends over at Maserati.
Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Titanium Carbon
Hublot and Ferrari have been collaborating on limited edition watches for ages, and year after year Hublot continues to push their design and materials innovations to new heights. The sapphire cased MP-05 LaFerrari Sapphire is of course the penultimate of the line, but even this latest Big Bang model showcases an interesting variant on forged carbon that we’ve yet to see elsewhere.
By adding a dusting of either titanium or King Gold into the bezel material during the manufacturing process, we end up seeing something similar to natural rock formations with veins of metal running through them — it’s really something to see in person!
Much in the same way Rolex has been heavily invested in racing over the years, Tudor has recently thrown their hat in the motorsport sponsorship arena with heavy involvement with the International Motor Sports Association. Aside from this, the brand has launched a pair of stunning variants of their Fastrider Chronograph in partnership with Ducati that I’ve long been fond of.
This trio of colorful dials (I’ll take the yellow, please) that was launched alongside the Ducati Scrambler just screams modern racing chrono, making it the perfect fit for this list.