Three racing-inspired watches, ideal for motorheads and those who can’t drive alike

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The Classic Chronograph Zagato 100th Anniversary edition from Chopard’s Mille Miglia line.

My terrible summer continues and, at the rate I’m going, 2019 might just be my annus horribilis.

After losing my drone over the Indian Ocean, I had what can only be described as my own Suez Crisis at Kowloon City’s Speedway Diner a few weekends ago. No, scratch that, it was the humiliation of Suez plus the debacle of Brexit, with the added calamity of Black Monday. Long-time readers will know I can’t drive, so, unsurprisingly, I was pretty wretched at go-karting, finishing dead last against the big boys and frightened for my life. But that’s not the source of the shame.

Spying the opportunity for an easy win and convincing the staff to let me drive the smaller karts, I took on several under-10s. Alas, it was an utter disgrace. Not only was I getting lapped by children but my accelerator leg gave way and I kept going in circles. It was Slow & Ridiculous: Kowloon Drift. With the entire speedway watching, and laughing, my shame was compounded by having to high-five all the kids who finished ahead of me out of some arcane sense of sportsmanship.

My ego is rather fragile right now, but I console myself in the knowledge that under-10s know nothing about watches. And this week’s column is about motor racing-influenced watches as once again I was hoping to link the theme to a victory that never came.

Vroom! Three automotive-inspired watches

We’ll start with one of the latest addi­tions to Chopard’s Mille Miglia line, the Classic Chronograph Zagato 100th Anniversary edition (above). A tribute to Zagato, the Italian car design company that has created iconic silhouettes for the likes of Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin, the watch has been created to be gawped at in an undignified manner. The deep red of the sunburst dial is a not-so-subtle nod to classic Alfa Romeo sports cars but Chopard has elevated things with the recurring “Z” pattern.

Racing motifs on watches can veer towards the tacky or gimmicky but, with this piece, Chopard has walked the fine line and I’m a big fan of the racing-wheel etch­ing on top of the crown. The 42mm steel watch, which is limited to 100 pieces, features the chrono­graph of the name as well as a date indica­tor. The leather strap comes with a sporty “bund” attachment, which comes off easily for an elegant evening look.

The Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres(COSC) certified ETA 2894-2 movement is visible through the clear caseback. Yes, it is an ETA movement, so perhaps the expectation would be a reasonable price. Alas, that’s not the case, with the price tag reading HK$53,000 (US$6,775).

The Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Bentley Centenary Limited Edition in rose gold.
The Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Bentley Centenary Limited Edition in rose gold.

Next we have the Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42 Bentley Centenary Limited Edition. A mouthful and an eyeful. This watch oozes luxury and is one of the best pieces to come out of the collaboration between Swiss watchmaker Breitling and Britain’s Bentley Motors since they started the partnership, in 2003.

Made to celebrate 100 years of Bentley, the watch is an amped-up version of the 2018 British Racing Green edition. But instead of green and steel, we have a brown burl effect dial and a 42mm case in either 18-carat rose gold or steel. Yes, elm has been used for the dial, evoking a dash­board.

Inside is the excellent B01 move­ment with 70 hours of power reserve, and the watch has a COSC-certified chrono­graph and a date window. The rose-gold version is limited to 200 pieces and priced at HK$216,000; the steel version is limited to 1,000 and priced at HK$80,000.

The limited-edition Bremont Jaguar D-Type.
The limited-edition Bremont Jaguar D-Type.

Finally, we have the latest offspring of the alliance between two British companies, watch brand Bremont and car­maker Jaguar. The limited-edition Bremont Jaguar D-Type is a tribute to the D-Type racing car from the 1950s. Building on earlier watches in the collection, the design is kept simple, with a focus on retro 50s/60s styling and legibility.

I love the use of the old-school Jaguar logo and placing the date window at the six o’clock position. As with the Chopard watch, Bremont does a great job of adding racing motifs without overpowering the design and the tyre-track crown is a nice, playful touch.

The 43mm case is made of steel and inside is a BE-50AE movement. Limited to 300 pieces, the watch is priced at £5,495 (US$6,684).

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