A Watch For Every Type Of Car Guy

Link Copied


A Watch For Every Type Of Car Guy

Words by Mr Chris Hall

20 October 2021

Cars and watches are age-old bedfellows. And like any long-term relationship, they have settled into a comfortable groove. By which we mean that motoring-inspired watches tend to draw from a narrow pool of established influences: tyre-print straps, red-white-and-black chronograph dials and steering wheel-shaped automatic rotors. Well, not any more. These days, we’re seeing watches with an automotive bent that are – let’s go there – completely off-road when it comes to breaking with expectations. Here are some of our favourites, starting with IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN’s most recent collaboration with Mercedes-AMG, as well as a couple of new releases that still do things a little more conventionally.

Yes, this is inescapably, squarely and unashamedly a pilot’s watch. IWC used to keep its work with Mercedes in the Ingenieur line, but this year has opened up access to its most popular range, to give us an aviator chronograph for those who prefer to keep their wheels on the ground. Mr Lewis Hamilton has been wearing IWC Pilots’ watches for years – including ones made just for him so perhaps it isn’t too surprising. What wasn’t expected was a return to the days of carbon-fibre weave dials, making this is a watch where you need to look past the press pictures.

Taking a break from reinventing watch design at its most basic level (Ressence’s tagline could easily have been “where we’re going, we don’t need hands”), the Belgian brand surprised us with a motoring watch as part of its 10th birthday celebrations in 2020. The Type 5 X is a collaboration with cult petrolheads Automobili Amos, and came with such oddities as a rubber “spacer” to allow it to be worn on the side of your wrist if you’re driving. Like IWC’s carbon Pilot, it’s a genre-bending idea that works better than you expect – the base Type 5 is actually a diving watch.

Back on slightly more familiar territory now, with Bell & Ross’ latest racing chronograph. It marks the watchmaker’s long-running association with Renault F1. However, as fans of the sport will know, the team rebranded at the start of the 2021 season as Alpine F1 and adopted a blue livery, which we now see on the dial (and a large “A” as the counterweight on the seconds hand). It’s not an earth-shattering move, but the shift from yellow and black to something a bit more genteel has resulted in a more sophisticated look.

We include this, the latest “race edition” Mille Miglia chronograph from Chopard, as something of a baseline – a masterclass in the classical form that is the motoring chronograph. The perforated leather strap, tachymeter scale on the bezel, chequered flag case back engraving and high-contrast layout with touches of red are all present and correct. Extra character comes from the Mille Miglia logo, its enthusiastic arrowhead discreetly incorporated on the dial and given pride of place on the reverse of the 250-piece edition.

Has MR PORTER lost it? This elegant slice of horology – a driving watch? Well, yes and no. The Vacheron Constantin 1921 is one of those remarkable designs that, although much celebrated today in its centenary year, is of somewhat unknown origin. Many theories have been advanced to explain the curiously rotated dial design, but one of the most persistent is that it emerged to suit the newly minted generation of gentlemen drivers, allowing you to read the time without taking a hand from the wheel of your Packard, Studebaker or Duesenberg. As the most romantic story by far, we’ll take it.

Drive time