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May 29, 2017

9 Car-Inspired Watches That Don't Break the Bank

Cars and watches go together like Sonny and Cher. Linked by the intricate mechanical precision imbued in them, nothing says that you’re into cars more than owning a great timepiece. Whether it’s mechanical or quartz, Swiss or Japanese, having a watch is like having a well-honed machine on your wrist. Plopping down hard-earned money on a watch is daunting to say the least, so here are 9 great car-inspired starter watches that don’t break the bank.

# 1: Seiko 5 Sports 50th Anniversary 

The latest trend among budding watch collectors, this list has to start out with the Seiko 5. Bold, sporty, yet dressy enough for a boardroom meeting (no, those G-Shocks aren’t), the Seiko 5 makes for a great entry into the world of automatic watches. In particular, the Seiko 5 Sports 50th Anniversary features a car-inspired design with the stripe on the dial and the disc brake image carved into the solid bezel. It totally screams JDM. Priced at ~USD 200 to 210.

#2: Orient Speedtech Collection

Another great watch from the Land of the Rising Sun comes from Orient. Less known than Seiko, Orient is known as the “watchmaker’s watch” because of its robust and no-frills movement. In fact, they’ve developed over 40 unique mechanical watch calibers and produce over 1.1 million watches per year. The Speedtech Collection is done in collaboration with Subaru Technica International or STI. The Orient Speedtech Collection comes in three flavors: Automatic, Chronograph, and ERS (Energy Recovery System)—their version of Seiko’s Kinetic. The Speedtech was created in the image of the Subaru BRZ GT300, a car that Orient has sponsored in Super GT. It comes with elements inspired by the racer including the a cutout to resemble the air outlets, an angled power reserve indicator as a nod to the fuel gauge, crowns cut out to look like the horizontally-opposed pistons, and the use of carbon fiber material. Priced at ~USD 795 to 800.

#3: Tag Heuer Formula 1

Tag Heuer and its predecessor, Heuer has been a staple in motorsports for quite some time. Steve McQueen wore one in the movie, Le Mans, Heuer was with Ferrari and then Williams in the 1970s, and even owned 50 percent of McLaren at one point. Today, they’re one of the major sponsors to the Red Bull Formula One team. Among all of Tag Heuer’s collections, the one most synonymous with motorsports has always been the Formula 1 range. Priced at ~USD 1,200 upward. And if you’re lucky enough, maybe you can still snag a Limited Edition Indy 500 Formula 1 that commemorates them being the official timekeeper of the series. Priced at ~USD 1,950.

#4: Oris Williams F1

Boasting a purely mechanical line-up with the distinctive red rotor at the back, Oris prides itself with its “High Mech” approach to watchmaking. The Swiss brand has been making watches since 1904 and today they continue to produce sensibly priced, functional yet innovative watches. As an independent watch company, they turned heads when they partnered with the Williams Formula 1 team starting in 2003. A special collection carrying the team name was then launched in 2015 that’s said to bring the speed, power, and technology of a Williams race car to a wristwatch. Priced at ~ USD 1,500 upward.

#5: Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive Racing Chronograph

The other watches in this list show their connection to cars through aesthetics or design. The Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive Racing Chronograph may not look like a car-inspired watch at a glance, but because it’s capable of measuring up to 1/1,000th of a second—the standard unit of measurement for high-caliber motorsports—it’s more of a professional measurement tool for motorsports. Of course, that hasn’t stopped Citizen from injecting a bit of a cockpit motif in the dial. Priced at ~USD  450 upward.

#6: Tissot PRS 516 Automatic Small Second

In the 1960s-1970s, Tissot and Alpine, France’s legendary racing and sports car manufacturer, were partners. In 2015, that partnership was revived and Tissot introduced the Tissot PRS 516 Automatic Small Second model. Tissot PRS 516 takes inspiration from its 1960s motorsports origins with nostalgic design elements blended together with the latest innovations in Swiss watchmaking. What’s more, the movement can be seen in action through the distinctive case back that’s shaped like a steering wheel. Priced at ~USD 1,050.

#7: Autodromo Group B Evoluzione

Although Autodromo doesn’t carry the panache or heritage as any of the other watches in this list, company founder Bradley Price, an industrial designer by profession had one aim: to craft unique timepieces that express the golden age of motoring. Said to evoke a time when driving required style, panache, and a hint of danger, Autodromo watches commonly feature lugless cases, tropic-style leather straps, and dials that mimic the design of vintage gauges. Evoking the World Rally Championship’s most technically demanding and sophisticated series, Group B, the Autodromo Group B Evoluzione is made CNC milled aerospace aluminum. And get this, in the spirit of Group B racing cars, the Autodromo Group B Evoluzione is limited to a run of just 200 pieces. Priced at ~USD 1,100 (includes a handmade aluminum collectors box).

#8: Edox Chronorally

The official timekeeper of the Dakar Rally, Edox offers a large collection including the Dakar-themed Chronorally. All Chronorally equipment and gear must be tough enough to survive the harshest conditions: speed, mud, snow, shocks, heat, etc. Edox Chronorally timepieces have been designed and engineered to withstand the most extreme environment. Technical materials such as strong rubber straps, solid stainless steel cases and robust, reliable movements are featured on all Chronorally timepieces. Priced at ~USD 1,725 upward.

#9: Frederique Constant Vintage Rally Peking to Paris Limited Edition

Held in 1907, Peking to Paris is a grueling cross-continent challenge that tested both man and machine for 14,994 kilometers. In 2017, in time for the centenary of this one-of-a-kind race, the Endurance Rally Association raced through the classic route once more with period-accurate 126 vintage and classic cars. Disallowing modern day roof top boxes and even requiring drivers to wear period-style wardrobe, it’s only perfect that they partner with an official timekeeper with the same sense of timeless vintage style. Enter Swiss watchmaker Frederique Constant. In 2016, they were chosen to be the official timekeeper of the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge and to commemorate that, Frederique Constant came up with the Vintage Rally Peking to Paris Limited Edition. It displays the roadmap and logo of the famed road race on its case back and is limited to 2,888 pieces. Priced at ~USD  1,595.


  1. You forgot to include Certina, Sir Uly.

    I really like those Oris leather watches, the usual prices that i see in the malls are at around 100-120k regular price.

    1. You're right! Certina is actually another gem waiting to be discovered.

      The Oris are also good watches too. They're tough and reliable. I would say, pick one up second hand :-)

  2. "9 Car-Inspired Watches That Don't Break the Bank"

    They sure dont break the bank... they break the wallet... ouch!

  3. There's also Omologato:


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