A number of luxury watch brands have gotten involved in sponsoring sailing teams and events. Some brands have even developed timepieces specifically suited for competitive sailing and other nautical activities, often incorporating some version of the all-important regatta countdown function. Here we run down seven yachting and regatta watches and reveal why they’re ideal companions out on the waves.
1.Corum Admiral’s Cup AC-One 45 Tides
Corum has been making watches for yachtsmen since 1960, when it debuted the first Corum Admiral’s Cup watch, named after and inspired by the famous yacht race of the same name. The Admiral’s Cup has since grown to become an entire collection, one of Corum’s core pillars. Numerous variations on the Corum Admiral’s Cup have been introduced over the years, including the Corum Admiral’s Cup AC-One 45 Tides. This watch’s movement, Caliber CO 277 — which Corum spent three years working with the Astronomic Observatory of Geneva and French Navy’s oceanographic institute to create — contains a mechanical complication that is eminently useful for someone piloting a boat: a moon-phase-like function that informs the wearer of how strong and how high the tides are, and when high and low tide will next occur. (Tides, of course, are affected by the moon’s relation to the earth and sun.) A hand on the subdial at 12 o’clock indicates the tidal coefficient, or range between high and low tides. A subdial at 6 o’clock tells when the next two tides will occur. Meanwhile, the 9 o’clock display tells the wearer if tides are rising or falling. The date is displayed at 3 o’clock. The Corum Admiral’s Cup AC-One 45 Tides has the collection’s hallmark 12-sided case, which is made of titanium coated with blue PVD and measures 45 mm in diameter, and comes on a vulcanized blue rubber strap.
2. Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Titanio
Panerai is much better known for making watches for use underwater rather than above the waves, but the Swiss-Florentine brand began sponsoring the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge in 2005 and introduced its first dedicated yachting watch at SIHH 2013. (AT SIHH 2017, the brand took its support of sailing sports to the next level, becoming Official Timekeeper of the America’s Cup.) that The Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Titanio (PAM00526) has a lightweight, brushed titanium case, 47 mm in diameter, and is outfitted with Panerai’s in-house Caliber P.9100/R, which powers not only a flyback chronograph but a user-friendly regatta countdown function.
To start the countdown to a regatta (in which perfect timing is crucial, with all boats required to line up behind an imaginary line without crossing it), the owner pushes an orange push-button at 4 o’clock to move the central orange chronograph minute hand back, one minute at a time, until it is at the correct position in relation to the length of the countdown. Next, he presses the chronograph stop/start button at 10 o’clock, which starts the chronograph hands moving, indicating first the minutes and seconds remaining until the start, and then, when the countdown has finished, the time elapsed since the start of the race. At the end of the interval being measured, the push-button at eight o’clock returns all the chronograph hands to zero; if it is operated while the hands are still moving, it activates the return-to-zero (flyback) function of these hands, enabling the wearer to start timing a new interval immediately, without using the stop and reset buttons. The flange around the dial displays a 15-minute scale for the regatta countdown, with the five final minutes distinguished in orange, along with a tachymeter scale that is measured in knots, which enables a sailor to determine the speed of his boat over a defined distance. For more details on this Panerai watch, including the price, click here. The price of the watch is $17,200.00 excl. sales tax (July 2017).
3. Rolex Yacht-Master II
The Rolex Yacht-Master II — the successor to the original Rolex Yacht-Master — debuted in 2007 and introduced a Rolex-exclusive regatta countdown function that can be “programmed” from 1 to 10 minutes and incorporates a mechanical memory that allows it to be reset to the same countdown duration used previously. Once launched, the countdown can also be synchronized on the fly, enabling adjustment to match the official regatta start-time countdown. Programming the countdown is easy, by means of the rotatable Ring Command bezel, a Rolex-developed system linking the bezel to the movement.
The Rolex Yacht-Master II has a 44-mm Rolex Oyster case (available in several precious metals, in Rolex’s proprietary “Rolesium” material, or in a new stainless steel version with blue Cerachrom bezel, shown below.) The watch contains the Rolex manufacture Caliber 4161, which has a COSC chronometer certification and includes a column-wheel chronograph. For more on the Rolex Yacht-Master II, click here.
4. Alpina Sailing Yachttimer Countdown
Not everyone who owns a boat is a millionaire, and the Alpina Sailing Yachttimer Countdown is a yachting watch for those on a slightly tighter timepiece budget. For under $5,000, the owner of this watch gets a clever yachting-specific complication, namely a moving countdown window that counts down from 10 to 1, gradually revealing a red “START” indicator for the start time of a regatta. The Alpina Sailing Yachttimer is a limited edition of only 8,888 pieces. The watch has a 44-mm stainless steel case, with a see-through caseback offering a view of the in-house movement, Caliber AL-880, and comes on a black rubber strap. The price of the watch is $3’695 (July 2017).
5. Perrelet Turbine Yacht
Introduced in 2014, the Perrelet Turbine Yacht — another new complication for the distinctive Turbine collection, which has swiftly become Perrelet’s flagship family — combines the spinning dial-side turbine-style rotor with an integrated windrose function, inspired by the world of yachting, which helps to orient sailors by points of reference and the position of the sun. The Perrelet Turbine Yacht has a substantial, 47-mm-diameter stainless steel case, also available with either black or bronze-toned PVD coating. The turbine rotor on the dial, made of titanium, has 11 blades, echoing the look of a submarine propellor, and rotates above a surface with a maritime-themed parallel-line pattern reminiscent of the teakwood deck of a yacht. The windrose — according to Wikipedia, “a graphic tool used by meteorologists to give a succinct view of how wind speed and direction are typically distributed at a particular location” — is on a bidirectional rotating ring surrounding the dial. prices for the Perrelet Turbine Yacht range from $6,550 to $7,200.
6. Bremont Regatta OTUSA
The U.K.-based Bremont brand has also served as Official Timing partner to the America’s Cup and to the competition’s defending champion, Oracle Team USA. To commemorate the races, Bremont brought out at this year’s Baselworld this COSC-certified regatta timer, the Bremont Regatta OTUSA. The watch has 15- minute and 5-minute countdown displays at 12 o’clock, a 12-hour counter and date aperture at 6 o’clock and running seconds at 9 o’clock. Bremont has incorporated into the crown a bit of carbon fiber taken from one of the foils of a 2013 Oracle Team USA AC72 yacht. The case is titanium, 43 mm in diameter, and water resistant to 100 meters. It has a transparent back through which you can see the rotor, decorated with a wave-like pattern and the words “America’s Cup.” Price: $6,895 (July 2017).
7. Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta Chronograph
Ulysse Nardin tapped two professional yachtsmen, Loïck Peyron and Iain Percy from the Swedish Artemis Racing team (which the brand sponsors), to help design its new regatta timer, the Marine Regatta Chronograph, which debuted at SIHH 2017. The watch is a bi-directional chronograph counter that automatically begins timing the race once the countdown is complete, thus eliminating the need to hit the restart button at the precise moment when the race begins. Official fleet yacht races begin with either a five-, seven- or 10-minute countdown to the starting signal, during which time boats jockey for a position as close to the starting line as possible without crossing it and thus facing major penalties. The movement, Caliber UN-155, is based on the manufacture automatic chronograph Caliber UN-153 and has a three-day power reserve. The 44-mm case is stainless steel and has a fluted bezel with rubber inserts, molded rubber pushers, a screw-down crown and 100-meter water resistance. There are two dial variations, one in ocean blue with signature Artemis Racing yellow and the other in sea foam. There is also a limited-edition series of 35 Marine Regatta Chronographs with black champlevé enamel dials. The regular series is priced at $15,900, and the special edition, at $29,800.
This article was originally published in 2014; prices are subject to change.