Buckle up, racing fans! It’s time to talk about the ultimate accessory for any motorsport enthusiast: the racing watch. These timepieces have been a part of the racing world for over a century, evolving from simple chronographs to high-tech machines designed to withstand the most extreme conditions. Whether you’re a fan of vintage-inspired designs or cutting-edge technology, there’s a racing watch out there for you. So rev your engines and join us as we take a deep dive into the top racing watches of 2023 and explore what makes them the perfect companions for anyone with a need for speed. Want to learn more about the intricacies of these watches and their unique features? Check out our guide on Watch Styles & Types. Moreover, if you’re exploring options that are friendly in your pocket, don’t miss our budget watches buying guide for some valuable insights. Let’s shift gears and start this exhilarating ride!
Table of Contents
Best Affordable Chronograph Watches Under $2000
1. Casio Edifice chronograph
- Affordable for less than $200
- Equipped with a precise quartz movement.
- Constructed with a stainless steel case and bracelet.
- The additional date function provides extra utility.
- Water resistant to 100 meters
- 45.5mm case diameter, it might be too large for those with smaller wrists.
- Lack of Luminosity
The Casio Edifice EF-527D1A is an excellent choice for an affordable chronograph or racing watch due to its blend of style, durability, and functionality. It embodies the brand’s reputation for robust quality and is part of Casio’s Edifice line, known for its racing and speed-inspired designs. The watch boasts a quartz movement ensuring precise timekeeping, a chronograph feature for recording elapsed time, and a slide rule bezel for quick calculations – a nod to its racing spirit. The stainless steel case and bracelet further enhance its durability, while the date display adds an extra layer of utility. Despite its rich feature set, the Casio Edifice EF-527D1A comes at a budget-friendly price, making it a superb value-for-money proposition. Check out our guide on Choosing the Right Chronograph Watch.
2. Seagull 1963
- Affordable for around $250
- Employs the reliable, hand-winding Seagull ST19 column wheel chronograph movement.
- Carries a strong connection to its origins with the Chinese Air Force in the 1960s.
- Sports a distinctive dial and is available in 38mm and 40mm case sizes suitable for various wrist types.
- The specific ST19 movement may be more challenging to service in regions where Seagull watches are less common
The Seagull 1963 is a standout choice for those seeking an affordable chronograph or racing watch. Straight from the storied Seagull Watch Company in Tianjin, China, this watch perfectly marries history, functionality, and design. Initially designed for the Chinese Air Force in the 1960s, the Seagull 1963 exudes an aura of historical richness. The watch is driven by the Seagull ST19 movement, a genuine column wheel chronograph movement, a feature that is often found in high-end chronographs, which gives it a unique charm for watch collectors. This hand-winding mechanical chronograph movement operates at a frequency of 21,600 beats per hour and boasts a power reserve of approximately 42 hours when fully wound and the chronograph is not in operation. With an elegant dial design and chronograph sub-dials, it ensures optimal readability while adding a touch of retro elegance. Furthermore, it comes in case sizes of 38mm and 40mm, catering to a broad spectrum of wrist sizes. Despite its impressive features, the Seagull 1963 is very reasonably priced, making it a valuable proposition for those stepping into the world of mechanical chronographs.
3. Seiko PROSPEX SPEEDTIMER
- Affordable, with solar versions priced around $500
- Heritage design with modern updates
- Comes in both more economical solar-powered and more premium automatic versions
- Features a clean, compact design with a sporty color selection
- Subtle in size, wears like a 38.5mm watch despite larger case size options
- 100 meters of water resistance and curved sapphire glass add durability
- The port orientation on the lume of the dial may make orientation challenging in low light
The Seiko Speed Timer is a delightful mix of heritage and modern craftsmanship, positioning itself as a splendid pick for an affordable chronograph or racing watch. The Speed Timer is an updated version of the 1969 original, and presents itself in both budget-friendly solar V192-based models and higher-end limited editions powered by the automatic caliber 8R46A. The design is clean and compact, with a V-shaped layout for the subdials and stick hands that echo the brand’s mil-spec chronos of the 1980s. Its sporty color schemes and a case shape reminiscent of Seiko divers and Hamilton W10 military watches enhance its visual appeal. Despite its robust size options – 39 millimeters for quartz versions and 42 millimeters for mechanical ones – it wears comfortably like a 38.5mm watch. With a price tag just over $500 for solar versions, the Seiko Speed Timer offers a significant value proposition for anyone seeking an affordable, reliable, and stylish chronograph watch.
4. Bulova Lunar Pilot
- Affordable, making it accessible to a broad range of consumers.
- Historically significant, having been worn on the moon during the Apollo 15 mission.
- Durable and reliable, as proven by its spacefaring history.
- Stylish and versatile, suiting a variety of styles and occasions.
- Currently only available in larger sizes, which may not suit all wearers.
The Bulova Lunar Pilot is an exceptional chronograph or racing watch, not only for its affordability but also for its historical significance. This is a watch that quite literally has journeyed to the moon and back, stepping in when an Omega watch failed during the Apollo 15 mission. With a storied past like that, it’s a timepiece that’s bound to kindle conversations. The Lunar Pilot is powered by Bulova’s High-Performance Quartz movement, ensuring impressive precision and reliability. While it comes in a larger 43mm size, the expressed desire for a smaller, 38mm variant shows its popularity across different wrist sizes and styles. For those interested in a chronograph with an intriguing backstory and a reasonable price tag, the Bulova Lunar Pilot is indeed an excellent choice.
5. Bulova Chrono A
- High-Performance Quartz movement ensures accurate timekeeping.
- Good value for the price is often found discounted for less than $400.
- Strong water resistance of 200 meters and domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating add durability.
- Comfortable and stylish black perforated silicone strap.
- The vintage design may not appeal to everyone.
The Bulova Chrono A is a stylish and versatile pick for those seeking an affordable chronograph or racing watch. This watch features a design inspired by Bulova’s popular diver chronographs from the 1970s, often referred to as the “Surfboard” for the distinctive blue oval encircling the two sub-dials. Retailed around $695, but often found at a discounted price of around $400.00, it provides a balance of functionality and vintage charm. The updated version boasts a 40.5mm stainless steel case with black and red accents and an off-white dial. The watch operates on a High-Performance Quartz movement, ensuring accurate timekeeping. Additionally, its water resistance of 200 meters and domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating add to its robustness. A black perforated silicone strap with deployant closure completes the package.
6. Orient Panda Neo 70’s
- Offers remarkable value for its price of $200.
- Stylish design inspired by the classic Rolex Panda Daytona.
- Reliable Orient Solar-powered movement
- Water-resistant up to 100 meters, making it suitable for swimming and snorkeling
- Some might find the strap uncomfortable for prolonged wear.
The Orient Neo 70’s Solar Panda reimagines the timeless chronograph with modern efficiency and a dash of style, all within a budget-friendly range. Exuding a classic black and white color scheme, the dial comes equipped with date functionality and a chronograph, neatly presented to ensure a clean, uncluttered look. The watch is driven by a solar cell mechanism that seamlessly converts light into energy, eliminating the need for winding or battery replacements. Boasting a water resistance of up to 100 meters, it’s perfectly suited for swimming and snorkeling. However, the larger size may not suit everyone, and some might find the strap lacking in comfort. Despite these minor drawbacks, the Orient Neo 70’s Solar Panda offers an irresistible blend of style, function, and affordability that’s perfect for daily use.
7. Tissot Couturier
- Reasonably priced for a Swiss-made chronograph watch.
- Sturdy and masculine design
- Self-winding automatic movement
- Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal
- Water-resistant up to 100 meters
- Tachymeter scale for measuring speed
- May not be suitable for those with smaller wrists due to the generous size
The Tissot Couturier is a robust and stylish choice for those seeking an affordable chronograph or racing watch. With its 43mm stainless steel case and bracelet, the Couturier boasts a masculine appeal that’s matched by a set of practical features. Stick hands, hour markers, a date window, and a tachymeter scale adorn the silver-tone dial, all protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Its automatic self-winding movement guarantees precision and reliability, while the 100-meter water resistance offers a degree of durability suitable for various environments. The Tissot Couturier is a reliable chronograph that combines style, functionality, and value. However, its relatively large size may not accommodate smaller wrists comfortably. At around $800, it provides a solid entry into the world of Swiss-made chronograph watches.
8. Hamilton Intra-Matic
- Reasonably priced for a chronograph with automatic movement.
- Sports a distinctive, eye-catching panda dial.
- Reliable and exclusive H-31 automatic movement.
- Generous 60-hour power reserve.
- Water-resistant up to 100 meters
- Classic, sporty look that appeals to a broad range of watch enthusiasts.
- Slightly longer lug-to-lug measurements may not fit comfortably on smaller wrists.
The Hamilton Intra-Matic makes an excellent choice for those looking for a chronograph or racing watch that balances affordability with high-quality construction and a classic, sporty aesthetic. A reinterpretation of a 1968 hallmark, the Intra-Matic Auto Chrono pairs a distinctive panda dial with the highly regarded H-31 automatic movement, resulting in a timepiece that’s as functional as it is visually appealing. Its 40mm case comfortably fits most wrists, and a water resistance of 100 meters provides durability in various environments. With a power reserve of 60 hours, the watch, driven by a modified Valjoux 7753 movement, ensures consistent timekeeping even during periods of rest. Available for around $1500 despite retailing near $2100, the Intra-Matic Auto Chrono offers a unique combination of history, style, and value.
9. Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster
- Versatile design is suitable for land, sea, and air use.
- Popular among various professionals.
- Modern material upgrades while maintaining its vintage appeal.
- Reliable and precise due to the manual wind or automatic Salita caliber.
- A perfect balance in size with a 38.5mm case and 46.4mm lug-to-lug dimension.
- Stylish mid-century design.
- May not appeal to those seeking a more contemporary design.
- The manual wind might be inconvenient for some users.
The Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster is an excellent choice for those seeking an affordable and versatile chronograph or racing watch. First designed in 1963 as the premier sports chronograph for land, sea, and air use, it quickly became popular among professionals from different fields. The watch boasts a modern material upgrade while preserving its vintage charm. The timepiece is powered by a manual wind or automatic Salita caliber, providing reliability and precision. The stylish mid-century design, alongside the 38.5mm case size and 46.4mm lug-to-lug dimension, gives it a perfect balance between modern style and vintage appeal. Though established in 1926, Nevada Grecian made a significant mark in the 1960s with the unveiling of this collection, further emphasizing its timeless charm.
10. Tissot PRS 516 Automatic Chronograph
- Stylish and sleek design with motorsport-inspired elements
- Automatic movement for reliable timekeeping
- Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and exhibition caseback
- Luminous hands and hour markers for easy reading in low light conditions
- Relatively large case size at 45mm, may not be suitable for all wrist sizes
- Leather strap may not be as durable as a metal bracelet in the long term
The Tissot PRS 516 Automatic Chronograph is a motorsport-inspired watch that pays homage to the brand’s history in racing. It features a sleek black and bright red design with twin registers in white, a Tachymeter bezel, and a striking stainless steel case. Ref. T100.427.16.051.00 has an automatic ETA Caliber A05.H31 movement, black dial with luminous hands and floating index hour markers, and a black perforated leather strap with red stitching. The watch has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and an exhibition case-back. The regular price is $1,332 but can be found at a discount of around $900.
Best Luxury Chronograph Watches
1. Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph “Tuxedo”
- Classic, timeless design
- Equally appropriate in business or casual settings.
- Quality construction
- Offers high-end watchmaking at a comparatively accessible price point.
- Ideal for a ‘one-watch’ collection
- Limited to 50 meters, not suitable for swimming or diving.
- Lacks hacking seconds
The Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph Tuxedo, retailing around $3000, delivers a blend of timeless style, versatility, and impressive watchmaking. Echoing a classic era with its black dial, white sub-dials, and red seconds hand, this watch stands as an homage to the distinguished chronographs from the 1950s and 1960s. Driven by the Longines L888 caliber automatic movement, it boasts a substantial 54-hour power reserve. While it sports an elegance suitable for dressier occasions, its design versatility ensures it can comfortably transition to less formal settings. However, it’s more suited for the boardroom than a swim, with water resistance up to only 50 meters. This watch represents a significant investment in affordable luxury, serving as a perfect option for anyone seeking a versatile, well-crafted timepiece.
2. TAG Heuer CARRERA
- The Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic movement provides accurate timekeeping and a smooth, self-winding experience.
- The domed, beveled sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective treatment offers excellent visibility and scratch resistance.
- The gray skeletonized dial and black ceramic fixed bezel create a bold and distinctive look that’s sure to turn heads.
- The brown leather strap is comfortable and stylish, making this watch suitable for both formal and casual occasions.
- The watch is water-resistant up to 100 meters, providing ample protection against accidental splashes and exposure to water.
- The price tag of $5,650.00 may be too steep for some buyers.
- The 42mm case size may be too large or too small for some individuals, depending on their wrist size and personal preferences.
The TAG Heuer CARRERA racing watch is a sleek and stylish timepiece that features the Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic movement. With a domed, beveled sapphire crystal, a gray skeletonized dial, and a black ceramic fixed bezel, this watch is a statement piece that’s perfect for any racing fan. The brown leather strap secures with a push-button fold-over clasp, and the watch is water-resistant up to 100 meters.
3. TAG Heuer Monaco
- Unique limited edition inspired by Steve McQueen and his iconic role in “Le Mans”
- Automatic chronograph with two sub-counters and date window for accurate timing
- Beautiful ocean blue crocodile leather strap for a luxurious look
- Durable stainless steel case
- Water-resistant for up to 100 meters
- The high price point may not be affordable for everyone
- The square shape of the watch may not be everyone’s preferred style
- The Perspex crystal might not be as durable as a sapphire crystal
The TAG Heuer Monaco is a limited edition men’s watch inspired by Steve McQueen and his Porsche 917K in the 1970 film “Le Mans”. It features a precision automatic chronograph with two sub-counters at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, and a date window protected by a Perspex crystal. The watch comes in a 38mm square stainless steel case and has a luxurious ocean blue crocodile leather strap, making it a high-fashion racing timepiece. The watch costs $6,100.
4. Tudor Black Bay Chrono
- Contemporary and fashionable design
- Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal
- COSC certified automatic movement
- Removable bund
- Available in two dial colorways
- Higher price point
- Only available in one case size (41mm)
The Tudor Black Bay Chrono ref. 79360N is a fashionable and contemporary version of a Tudor classic. It features a black leather bracelet and removable bund with a thinner profile than the original model. This watch blends retro and modern design elements with its scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, aluminum Tachymeter bezel, and Tudor’s iconic Snowflake hands and applied hour markers. Powered by an automatic self-winding Calibre MT5813 (COSC) movement, which is COSC certified for accuracy, this watch serves as an exemplification of why many ask: Is Tudor a good watch? .Available in two dial colorways, white panda and black reverse panda, this timepiece epitomizes Tudor’s dedication to quality and style.
5. Omega Speedmaster
- Eye-catching blue dial with a “spiral” track and silver registers
- Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement
- Elegant design with Tachymeter bezel, side pushers, and twisted lyre lugs
- Three timing scales: Tachymeter, pulsometer, and telemeter scale
- Stainless steel case and bracelet with an exhibition case back
- Ideal for dressy or casual occasions
- Larger size may not be comfortable for some wearers
The Omega Speedmaster Chronoscope is a manual-winding, Co-Axial Master Chronometer watch that features a blue dial with a “spiral” track, silver registers, and rhodium-plated Arabic numerals. The watch includes a Tachymeter bezel, side pushers, and twisted lyre lugs. The watch boasts three timing scales, including a Tachymeter, pulsometer, and telemeter scale. The 43mm stainless steel case and bracelet feature an exhibition caseback and a foldover clasp with comfort settings. This timepiece is ideal for dressy or casual occasions. The Pros include an eye-catching blue dial, Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement, and elegant design. The Cons could be the relatively high price point and the watch’s larger size that may not be comfortable for some wearers.
6. Rolex Daytona
- Stainless steel case and bracelet for durability and longevity
- Stainless steel bezel adds to the sporty look
- White dial with silver registers and luminous hour markers for readability
- Tachymeter bezel for timing speed and distance
- Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal for durability
- Movement produced entirely in-house for reliability
- High price tag may be a deterrent for some buyers
The Rolex Daytona is a highly sought-after sports watch with several metal options available. The ref. 116520, a newer secondhand Rolex Daytona, features a stainless steel case and bracelet, along with a stainless steel bezel. The watch has a white dial with silver registers, luminous hour markers, and central sweeping hands filled with lume. The Tachymeter bezel and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal complete the sporty look. One of the first Daytona models to offer a movement produced entirely in-house, it is a reliable and durable watch. However, the watch’s high price tag may be a drawback for some buyers. But do the benefits outweigh the cost? Here, we explore the question: “Do Rolex Watches Hold Their Value?“
What is a racing watch?
A racing watch is a timepiece designed specifically for motorsports enthusiasts and race car drivers. These watches are typically built to withstand high speeds, shock, and extreme conditions while providing accurate timekeeping and other useful features such as tachymeter scales, chronograph functions, and date displays.
What watch do racers wear?
Professional race car drivers and motorsports enthusiasts typically wear high-performance racing watches from well-known luxury brands such as Rolex, Omega, and Tudor. These watches offer a range of features such as chronograph functions, tachymeter scales, and high-precision movements that can accurately measure lap times, speed, and other racing-related data. However, the type of watch that racers wear may vary depending on personal preferences, the type of race or event, and other factors.
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