Comparative Reviews, Watch Information

The Most Iconic Marine Watches

The Most Iconic Marine Watches

Today marks the start of the Formula 18 (F18) Sailing Americas Championship, which will be held at the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach, California. Luxury watches are closely associated with the highly competitive world of sailing, with many of the industry’s top brands sponsoring professional teams and creating timepieces designed specifically for sailing. Since the F18 Americas Championship is held right on the shores of our Newport Beach headquarters, and because we love great dedicated sports watches, we’re going to take a closer look at some of our favorite regatta timers, as well as some of the best sailing watches for when you’re not racing.

Before we get started, it may be necessary to clarify what we mean by “regatta timers” and “sailing watches” here. For the purposes of this guide, a sailing watch is a nautical-themed watch inspired by the world of sailing and designed for the luxury yachting lifestyle, including wear on land, below deck and in the water. However, within the larger category of nautical timepieces, regatta timepieces are specialized chronographs and countdown timers designed specifically for the highly competitive world of sailing. So, without further ado, here are some of our favorite watches for life on the water.

About Regatta Timers

The purpose of the boat race timer

Being able to keep track of time is an important part of most sports, and this is especially true for any activity that involves racing. However, unlike regular races on land, the start of a regatta (collectively referred to as a regatta) is a bit more complicated because the boats involved cannot simply stand perfectly still at the start line and take off quickly once the race begins.

Given that they are already subject to the natural movement of the wind and currents, boats participating in a regatta can move before the race begins. However, they are not allowed to cross the actual start line until the race has officially begun, or they may be penalized. Therefore, the core purpose of the regatta timer is not to measure the time it takes for a boat to finish the race, but actually to help the crew measure the time until the start of the race.

This countdown phase (usually between 5 and 10 minutes) is crucial in determining the overall result, and in some races can even be decided before the official start. The goal of this phase is to gain as much speed as possible and get as close to the start line as possible before the race begins. However, since boats cannot cross the line before the start, nor can they suddenly stop to avoid crossing the line when the countdown is miscalculated, knowing exactly how much time is left until the official start is a critical part of a team having a successful race. Rowing timers are specifically designed to help keep track of this rather complex countdown phase, and here are some of the best timers in the industry.

Rolex Yacht-Master II


– Reference Number: 116680

– Case Size: 44mm

– Materials: Oystersteel (904L Stainless Steel)

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Flyback/Fly-Forward Regatta Timer w/ Mechanical Memory

– Dial: White w/ Luminous Hour Markers

– Bezel: Ring Command, Blue Cerachrom Insert w/ 10-Minute Countdown Scale

– Crystal: Sapphire (Flat)

– Movement: Rolex Caliber 4161

– Water Resistance: 100 Meters / 330 Feet

– Strap/Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

While the original Yacht-Master models were designed more for spending time on the boat, the Rolex Yacht-Master II was designed from the ground up specifically for regatta racing, and it may just be the most capable and purpose-built regatta timer currently available (excluding quartz and digital models). The vast majority of mechanical regatta timers are powered by standard timekeeping movements that are paired with specialized displays that help track the countdown phase. However, for the Yacht-Master II, Rolex has designed a dedicated programmable countdown timer with mechanical memory that features flyback and fly-in functions so its users can easily synchronize it with the official race clock.

When Rolex first released the Yacht Prestige collection, it was only available in solid 18-carat gold. Over the years, however, the two-tone Everose Rolesor model and a stainless steel version have joined the lineup, the latter best suited to actual boat racing. Most notably, accessing its advanced functions is surprisingly simple thanks to its circular instruction bezel, which links the external rotating surround to the internal movement to facilitate the setting of its adjustable countdown timer.With a 44mm case and Oyster bracelet made of highly corrosion-resistant 904L stainless steel and an ample 100 meters of water resistance, the Rolex Yacht-Master II ref. 116680 might be the ultimate mechanical regatta timer.

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M ETNZ


– Reference Number:

– Case Size: 44mm

– Materials: Titanium (Grade 5)

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, 12-Hour Chronograph w/ Regatta Timer Display

– Dial: Sand-Blasted Titanium w/ Luminous Hour Markers

– Bezel: Unidirectional, Black Ceramic Insert w/ 60-Minute Scale

– Crystal: Sapphire (Domed)

– Movement: Omega Caliber 3330

– Water Resistance: 300 Meters / 1,000 Feet

– Strap/Bracelet: Black Rubber Strap

OMEGA has long supported the New Zealand Chiefs (ETNZ) and the world of competitive sailing. Over the years, the historic Swiss watchmaker has created a number of special edition models (most often the Seamaster) to celebrate the brand’s association with the championship team. The OMEGA Seamaster Diving 300m Chronograph ETNZ was originally launched in 2015 as a watch that expanded the standard Seamaster Diving Chronograph platform to include a regatta-oriented display, nautical-inspired features, and the iconic colors of the New Zealand Chiefs.

Rather than being built from stainless steel like the normal Seamaster Diver 300M, the ETNZ edition features a case constructed from satin-finished grade 5 titanium that is fitted with a sand-blasted grade 5 titanium dial and a matte black ceramic bezel. Although the Co-Axial Caliber 3330 movement that powers the watch is a standard chronograph movement, it has been fitted with a specialized chronograph minute hand that works in conjunction with the corresponding scale on the sub-dial to help track the countdown to the start of the race. Despite being intended for the world of competitive sailing, the fact that the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M ETNZ Chronograph was built upon a dive watch platform means that it retains many of its professional diver features such as a unidirectional timing bezel, helium escape valve, and 300 meters (1,000 feet) of water resistance.

Panerai Luminor Yachts Challenge


– Reference Number: PAM00764

– Case Size: 44mm

– Materials: Titanium

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, 12-Hour Flyback Chronograph w/ Regatta Timer Display

– Dial: Black w/ Luminous Hour Markers and Nautical Tachymeter Scale

– Bezel: Fixed, Brushed Titanium, Smooth Style

– Crystal: Sapphire (Domed)

– Movement: Panerai Caliber P.9100

– Water Resistance: 100 Meters / 330 Feet

– Strap/Bracelet: Black Rubber Strap

Another brand with strong ties to the sea, Panerai today sponsors professional divers as well as the Luna Rossa yacht racing team. Panerai began producing waterproof compasses and other diving instruments for the Italian Navy over a hundred years ago, and waterproof watches are still a major part of the brand’s contemporary catalog. Not only does Panerai have a dedicated line of dive watches in the form of submersibles, but it also produces many other nautical-inspired models such as the Panerai Luminor Yachts Challenge.

Released in 2019 to celebrate the brand’s relationship with the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the watch boasts a large and light 44mm titanium case with a high-tech flyback chronograph movement. On the right side of the case is Luminor’s signature crown-protected bridge, while a pair of pushers for operating the chronograph protrude from the other side of the case. Powering the watch is the caliber P.9100, a 12-hour flyback chronograph movement that includes centrally mounted hour and minute hands for maximum readability. cal. P.9100 also features Panerai’s “seconds reset” function, which automatically zeroes the chronograph seconds hand when the crown is pulled out to facilitate the time setting process.

About Sailboat Watches

The watchmaking industry’s intertwined relationship with the earth’s oceans has been central to its development over the past three centuries. Following the Shipley disaster of 1707, the British Parliament enacted the Longitude Act in 1714, providing a lucrative financial incentive for anyone who could figure out how to accurately determine longitude at sea.

After years of research, development and different “sea clocks,” British watchmaker John Harrison invented the marine chronometer (now known as the H4 watch) to keep time even during turbulent sea voyages. This groundbreaking marine chronometer not only paved the way for today’s “certified chronometer” luxury watches, but it also cemented horology’s ongoing fascination with life at sea. For all those who love nautical style watches and spend their time on board – but don’t actually race every day – here are some of our picks for luxury nautical watches.

Patek Philippe Nautilus

Named after Captain Nemo’s submarine in Jules Verne’s novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and featuring a case that replicates the ship’s porthole, the Patek Philippe Nautilus has an undeniable connection with the sea. Indeed, the man behind the Nautilus design, Gerald Genta, knew that the Stern family (owners of Patek Philippe) were passionate about sailing, and no doubt the designer used this as inspiration for his groundbreaking Patek Philippe timepiece. the Nautilus made its debut in 1976 as a large stainless steel luxury sports watch, directly in line with the then (also Gerald Water-resistant to 120 meters, the Genta Nautilus can be worn by even the most active and affluent of people.

While the Nautilus began as a 42mm stainless steel men’s watch with a simple time and date dial, Patek Philippe expanded the collection over the years to include precious metal options, different case sizes, versions with complications and smaller women’s models. Today, the ocean-inspired Nautilus is one of the most sought-after luxury watches on the market, with demand outstripping supply.

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra

In 2002, OMEGA introduced the Seamaster Aqua Terra collection, which, as the name suggests, was inspired by both the sea and the land. the vertical (and later horizontal) lines of the Aqua Terra dial were intended to mimic the wooden decks of luxury yachts.

While the majority of the Seamaster Aqua Terra collection is comprised of 41 mm time and date models, OMEGA also makes larger, more complex versions for the intrepid traveler, such as the GMT model and the World Time model. There is also a smaller Seamaster Aqua Terra for women. This latest version of the ocean-inspired Aqua Terra is equipped with OMEGA’s latest generation Master Chronometer automatic movement with a magnetic resistance of 15,000 Gauss. available in a variety of metals, dial colors and straps, the Aqua Terra watches are truly OMEGA-inspired.

Rolex Yacht-Master

Rolex is known for its various dive watches made for underwater adventures, but the brand also produces nautical watches in the Yacht-Master collection. First introduced in 1992, the Yacht-Master has carved out a space as a luxury sports watch, sharing some of the design features of the Submariner but with a more tailored touch. Equipped with an Oyster case water-resistant to 100 meters, the Rolex Yacht-Master is perfect for when you want to jump off the boat and swim in the sea, and measure elapsed time by rotating the bezel.

The Yacht-Master is one of Rolex’s most diverse collections, with a wide choice of materials, sizes and designs. There are steel models with platinum bezels, all yellow gold models, and timeless rose and white gold models with black ceramic bezels and black Oysterflex bracelets. Over the years, Rolex has also made the Yacht-Master in five different sizes (29 mm, 35 mm, 37 mm, 40 mm and 42 mm), and of these sizes, only the three largest are still in production.

More sophisticated than a diver and more robust than a formal timepiece, the sea-inspired luxury watches strike a fine balance between timeless style, constant comfort and everyday practicality.

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