Seven affordable watches for auto enthusiasts
Cars and watches have a truly symbiotic relationship. Watchmakers and horologists have long been inspired by the automotive realm, its drivers and, often, the top-performing vehicles that have come to represent speed and agility.
For example, Swiss watchmaker Parmigiani has a piece dubbed the Bugatti Type 370 Mythe; and Rolex literally crafts its Cosmograph Daytona with professional drivers in mind—the watch can measure speeds up to 400 kilometres per hour.
So, what makes a timepiece “driving”-specific? Basically two things. A nod to automotive or motorsport history, and/or the presence of complications like chronographs and tachymeters.
The chronograph is the traditional driving watch, with precise timing features often shown on multiple sub-dials on the face; the tachymeter measures speed and distance, and is located around the bezel of the watch. And though every single smartphone has these timing features and more built in, some purists still prefer to have the timing tool right there on the wrist. That, plus they look cool as hell.
But not everyone can or is willing to drop thousands on a Breitling for Bentley Supersports or a Tag Heuer Monaco V4. Instead, here are seven watches that look great on the wrist and won’t leave you unable to afford gas.
This timepiece is powered by a piece of tech that Citizen calls Eco-Drive, which uses any light source – like the sun beaming down on your wrist when your hand’s on the wheel, or even artificial indoor lighting – to keep it running. The sleek aesthetic – a stainless steel mesh band is a fresh take on the traditional linked look – is one thing, but the digital perpetual calendar, which is radio-controlled for 26 time zones, means even if you trade the Trans-Canada for the autobahn, this watch will keep you on time.
Citizen Navihawk, $555 at Best Buy.
GUESS Black Sport Watch
At just over $200, this sports watch from GUESS gives off the same vibe as a luxury driving timepiece without sending your savings into the red. As with others on this list, this option is a chronograph with three sub-dials, but it’s the brushed matte black finish that makes it stand out. If Bond was on a budget, this is what he’d wear.
Black Sport Watch, $235 at GUESS.
Swatch Night Flight
Swiss watchmaker Swatch has been crafting affordable timepieces since the ’80s. Its Night Flight model is a sleek stainless steel chronograph with a black dial and three sub-dials, as well as tachymeter for tracking things like how quickly you made it from the driveway to your office, or how long it takes you to brush each tooth.
Swatch Night Flight, $245 at Swatch.
Fossil Gen 3 Q Explorist Smartwatch
Fossil does have some great chronographs under $500, but it’s their digital Gen 3 Q Explorist Smartwatch with the leather band that we’re recommending for the economizing modern driver. It’ll tell the time, easy, but it also connects to your smartphone to control music, receive messages, track fitness and more. Just remember that using a smartwatch behind the wheel is considered distracted driving in much of Canada.
Fossil Gen 3 Q Explorist Smartwatch, $235 at Fossil.
Tissot T-Race Chronograph
Yes, Tissot’s T-Race collection is on the high end of price the spectrum here, but it’s worthy of a mention since it clocks in below the $1,000 mark and will make a truly special gift for any motorcycle enthusiast. The entire T-Race collection is a nod to the watchmaker’s involvement in moto racing – it’s had a long-standing relationship with MotoGP – right down to the flashy rubber strap.
Tissot T-Race Chronograph, $795 at Tissot.
Timex Weekender Chronograph
Want to give off the impression that you attend the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance annually? Wear this on your wrist. Timex does affordable timepieces well, and this weekender chronograph with its brown leather strap with baseball stitching is no exception. And at just $110, it costs less than filling up most pickup trucks these days.
Timex Weekender Chronograph, $110 at Timex.
Seiko Spirit Giugiaro Design Chronograph
Japanese watchmakers Seiko and Italian automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro of Giugiaro Design have partnered on a number of timepieces in the past. Their latest limited-edition creation? A brushed metal chronograph with an asymmetrical face and a futuristic aesthetic.
Seiko Spirit Giugiaro Design Chronograph, $429 at Creation Watches.