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In Depth

Beyond The Bezel: Motorsport-Inspired Watches

By Sarah Jayne Potter | 3 minute read

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Worn by Formula 1 world champions and weekend warriors alike, certain timepieces are an iconic choice whether worn on or off the track. We explore a trio of high-octane professional tool watches with motor-racing heritage in abundance: Rolex’s Cosmograph Daytona, TAG Heuer’s Formula 1 Calibre 5 and IWC’s Portofino Chronograph.

A race against time

Engineering excellence and the need for speed. Those words are synonymous with motor racing – a sport in which beating the clock is a burning obsession. No surprise, then, that watch companies today sponsor some of the greatest events, tracks and teams. Like that of a race engineer, the work of a modern watchmaker is never complete – there are always new innovations to seek out and gains to be made over the competition. Here are some of our favourite timepieces in the genre.

The icon: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

When it comes to motorsport-inspired chronographs, we think it’d be hard to find a more worthy watch to assume the top step of the podium than the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. Named after one of the birthplaces of motorsport, Daytona Beach in Florida, the Cosmograph Daytona is equipped with calibre 4130. This automatic mechanical chronograph movement was developed and manufactured by Rolex for increased reliability and has a power reserve of approximately 72 hours. With a tachymeter scale, two screw-down pushers and three sub-dials, the 40mm model seen here in Oystersteel and yellow gold is one of the finest examples of a motoring chronograph – the perfect mix of form and function.

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The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona represents the pinnacle of race chronographs

Modern performance: TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 5

Much like the category of motorsport with which the TAG Heuer Formula 1 collection shares its name, the Formula 1 collection of chronographs was designed for a life in motion. Manufactured using the brand’s latest technology and inspired by the extreme performance of modern Formula 1 teams and race machines, this line of timepieces caters for everyone from professional racing drivers to those looking for a watch for everyday use. Tough enough for Max Verstappen, yet comfortable and refined enough to wear to work for those used to a more sedate commute, the 43mm stainless-steel model is a constant reminder of the brand’s racing DNA. This high-performance sports watch, with its screw-down crown and unidirectional bezel, would be a great place to start for racing and timepiece fans alike, in our view.

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TAG Heuer’s motorsport credentials come to life in the Formula 1 Calibre 5

An elegant classic: IWC Portofino Chronograph

Inspired by one of motor racing’s most glamorous eras, the IWC Portofino Chronograph takes its design cues from the 1960s. We reckon it’ll appeal if you’re a fan of all things retro, but don’t want to compromise on contemporary quality. Its elegantly sporty and sleek push-buttons create a traditional chronograph silhouette, enhanced by three sub-dials set within its silver-plated dial, all protected by a convex sapphire glass. Driven by the automatic calibre 75320, with an approximate 44-hour power reserve, this 42mm model in steel comes on a dark brown retro alligator-leather strap. A watch for enthusiasts that would look completely at home within the cockpit of a vintage racer on the grid at any of the world’s greatest classic-motorsport events.

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The IWC Portofino Chronograph is a refined choice for connoisseurs of classic motoring

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