If you live your life at full speed, then you’ll need one of these

If you relish the heady smell of petrol, burnt rubber and sun-baked asphalt, and measure success in laps, splits and chequered flags, then you join a fraternity of torque-fixated idols like Ayrton Senna, Mario Andretti and Jackie Stewart in a love of tearing up tarmac. If you preferred the silver screen to reality, then you watched Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, famous men that had high-octane fuel running through their veins. Both groups of men were take-charge kind of guys, the men who navigated their own route through life, complete with heartbreak hills, handbrake turns and full-speed, sanity-defying straights. Men who knew what they wanted, and set about getting it as quickly as possible. These chronographs with their stopwatch subdials and split second timing formed part of a racer’s gear and became as vital as his racing leathers and helmet but were also versatile enough to succeed outside of the track, pairing with a suit as well as it does with sponsor-covered overalls. Leather straps are more elegant compared to the rubber options, but are less practical. If you spend hours wearing down brake pads and hitting the apex on countless corners, then the leather option will become stained and reek. If you’re more of a gentleman racer, with most of your advanced driving techniques used during weekend cross-country escapes, then choose leather. Either way, you’re in the driving seat.

1. Tag Heuer Carrera Auto Chronograph

Mix cutting edge mechanics
(a Calibre 16 movement), three counters, a tachymeter, an elegant black aluminium bezel and the metal etching of Juan Manuel Fangio on the caseback, and you have one of the best racing-inspired watches money can buy. R38 995, picotandmoss.co.za, 011 669 0500

2. Casio Red Bull Racing Limited Edition Edifice

Using carbon taken from the Red Bull RB6 F1 racing car, this is a sleek collector’s item with serious speed-measuring firepower – in a track-ready stopwatch and 1/20 second chronograph. R3 999, jamesralph.com, 011 314 8888

3. Festina F164895

A striking, masculine timepiece with subtle racing accents found in the red stitching on the calfskin leather strap and red-tipped dials and counters. It’s brilliant value for money too. R2 150, sbacher.co.za, 011 372 6000

4. Chopard Mille Miglia GT XL Chrono Rosso Corsa

This beautifully-crafted, limited edition timepiece (only 1 000 units) pays homage to red-blooded Italian racers of the past through colour and the Barenia racing style strap. The latest in design and materials creates a cutting-edge chronograph. R80 750, architectsoftime.com, 011 669 0790

5. Oris Williams F1 Chronograph

A smart mix of carbon, steel and rubber, this is another special edition watch with a proper racing pedigree. This tarmac-inspired timepiece also works beautifully away from the track. R18 500, sbacher.co.za, 011 372 6000

6. Porsche P6620 Dashboard Chronograph

A lightweight titanium piece (coated in PVD) that’s inspired by sports-car dashboards and powered by the accurate Valjoux 7753 movement. For real motorheads – even the rotor on the back is shaped like a Porsche wheel. 
R63 000, porsche-design.co.za, 011 325 5706