The rise of the big watchmakers and diversification of watches.
While Rolex, as previously stated, was one of the first companies to capitalize the relation between timekeeping and races, it was Heuer (now TAG Heuer) that was most closely associated with racing through the second half of the 20th century.
It all started with dashboard timers, and Heuer’s, particularly the Master Time and Monte Carlo, were common sights on rally and race car dashboards. Pilots would use the clocks to track progress through a rally course or endurance racing event. The Heuer Autavia, one of the brand’s most popular watches, began its life as a dashboard timer. Originally, Ferrari, Lotus, Maserati, Lancia and other big Formula 1 teams depended on manually-wound chronographs to record their performance.
1969 saw the rise of the self-winding watches, and it was once more Heuer who pioneered on the field, creating the first automatic chronograph.
But it wasn’t just Heuer or Rolex that was involved in motor racing through the 20th century, since the iconic Omega Speedmaster, which is best known for its use by NASA during the Apollo program, was originally designed as a racing watch.
Even considering the fact that we’re in the digital age, Swiss manufacturers and watchmakers still create timepieces to provide for reliable timekeeping for the most iconic races around the world. I guess you could say that some things will never change, and this is particularly true in the tradition-bound world of timekeeping.