Cars and Chronographs

There's something ineffable about nice watches. Perhaps it's their mechanical complexity, the precious metals, or just the fact that they're usable artwork – like your 1965 Jaguar E-Type. Or maybe it's the fact that for years, accurate timekeeping was critical to your success as a pilot, astronaut, diver, submarine captain, and, of course, a racing driver. And that's why it's perfectly justifiable to spend $5,900 on a fully automatic TAG Monaco chronograph, because it's a celebration of that Paul Newman and Steve McQueen-like heroism we need more of. So with that said, here are a few watches every car person should appreciate.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

A wildly popular watch, even today, the Daytona has been the watch of racers and enthusiasts since it was first offered in 1963. It's also known as the Paul Newman watch because he famously wore his every day from 1972 until his death in 2008. Right now, prices on new Daytonas range from $12,400 up to $37,450. If you happen to be the original owner of a vintage 1970 Daytona in good shape with all the papers and the box, you'll want to insure it for about $100,000. As for Paul Newman's personal timepiece, it sold in 2017 for $17.8 million – a wristwatch auction record.

TAG Heuer Monaco

  Named after the Monaco Grand Prix, this watch was made popular by the other legendary racer-actor, Steve McQueen, who wore it in the 1971 film Le Mans. Plus, editions can be had in trims that directly tribute racing (e.g. the Monaco Twenty Four – a piece that was named in honor of the 24 hours of Le Mans race and sports the legendary Gulf Oil colors found on the iconic Porsche LeMans cars of the 70s.). A fully automatic Monaco chronograph can be had for $5,900, but you can opt for a less-expensive quartz movement.

Omega Speedmaster

Originally designed for race car drivers and crewmembers in 1957, this chronograph isn't synonymous with racing, but with space travel. This was the watch worn by the astronauts of the Apollo missions, and it remains one of several watches approved by NASA for space flight. Okay, maybe it's not as well known for its motorsports heritage, but I think anyone can appreciate the 'Moon Watch'. The Speedmaster will set you back at least $8,700.

Chopard Mille Miglia Chronograph

The watch has been married to the Mille Miglia for a while now, and each participant receives a special edition to commemorate the race. For those who can't afford to participate in the race, Chopard will offer slight variant you can purchase. The coolest part of this watch? The signature tire-tread strap. One of these will set you back $5,260. Okay, I know it's not reasonable to expect people to spend that kind of money on watches. And if you're actually a racer we know cash is in short supply, so if you're looking for something that's a little more reasonable, try one of these on for size:

REC Mark I

Rec watches are made from old iconic vehicles that are beyond repair. It's what they call recover, recycle, reclaim – or REC. The Mark I M1 is reasonably priced (compared to the others) at $395 and is made from salvaged Mini Coopers. Other models incorporate parts from 60s Ford Mustangs and, rumor has it, they're about to start making watches from iconic aircraft as well.

Shinola Runwell Chrono

Although they don't outwardly market to a car crowd, Shinola assembles their watches in the Motor City and they're proud of it. Thus, their Detroit-cool brand identity definitely makes it an acceptable timepiece for wrestling your Shelby GT350 around a road course. A Runwell Chrono will set you back $750.

Timex Blackjack

Designed in collaboration with NYC designer Todd Snyder, the Timex Blackjack takes its inspiration from roulette wheels, fast cars, speedometers, and the midcentury casinos of Monaco. Best of all, its simple quartz movement makes it an affordable yet stylish option for those who don't want to take out an extra insurance policy on their watch. You can get a Blackjack for $138. What do you think? Did we miss any? If so, let us know in the comments below!

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