Chronograph watches share a rich and enduring relationship with the world of motor racing that dates back to the early 20th century. As automobiles gained popularity and racing competitions emerged, chronograph watches became indispensable tools for drivers and teams to accurately measure time during races. With their stopwatch function, these timepieces allowed drivers to track lap times, calculate speeds, and precisely measure intervals, offering a practical advantage. But beyond their utilitarian purpose, the bond between motor racing and chronograph watches evolved into a profound stylistic and symbolic connection, capturing the excitement and precision intrinsic to both realms.
Today, this relationship continues to thrive, with luxury watch brands releasing special edition timepieces that pay homage to legendary racing events. These watches not only celebrate the heritage and spirit of motorsports but also showcase the craftsmanship, innovation, and design excellence synonymous with both worlds. In this article, we explore three recent special edition chronographs that serve as tributes to iconic racing events.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Le Mans 100th anniversary
Rolex has introduced a special version of the Cosmograph Daytona watch to celebrate the 100th year of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, the oldest endurance race in the world. This white gold model is based on the updated references unveiled at Watches & Wonders. It features a reverse panda dial with white sub-dials on a black background, reminiscent of vintage Daytona 6263 models. The dial is accompanied by a black ceramic tachymeter scale displaying the “100” mark in red. Notably, the watch houses a modified version of the 4131 movement called the calibre 4132, allowing for a 24-hour chronograph measure suitable for the endurance race. The 40mm timepiece comes with an Oyster bracelet and a display case back. The special edition is priced at $51,400.
Richard Mille RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic
Richard Mille has been a partner of the Le Mans Classic event since its inception in 2002. To mark the 11th edition of the race and to commemorate the 100th year of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, the Swiss watchmaker has introduced a limited edition of the RM 72-01 Flyback Chronograph dubbed the RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic. This special timepiece features a white and green Quartz TPT case, a matching dial, and a rubber strap. Limited to 150 units, the tonneau-shaped case measures 38.4mm x 11.68mm x 47.34mm and houses the CRMC-1 flyback chronograph movement. The titanium dial incorporates a Le Mans Classic nameplate and references to the race, including a red “16” symbolising the 4 pm race start time. The RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic is priced at $335,000.
Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph
Chopard has given the Mille Miglia collection a remodel for 2023, introducing the Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph in a smaller case with their proprietary Lucent Steel. The case size has been reduced from 42mm to 40.5mm, featuring a new ‘glass-box’ sapphire crystal and a thinner polished bezel, creating a more vintage-inspired look. The watch is available in four variants: Verde Chiaro (light green), Rosso Amarena (cherry red), Nero Corsa (racing black), and Grigio-Blue (gray-blue). The dials display circular satin-brushed finishing or an engine-turned finish (perlage) on the black dial. The new model retains the layout of two chronograph registers, running seconds at 3 o’clock, and a colour-matched date wheel. While Chopard doesn’t specify the movement, previous models used an ETA 2894-2 automatic chronograph. The Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph is priced at $9,030 for the steel variants and $10,700 for the two-tone variant.