Pretty much every sport requires a timer of some kind, but perhaps none is as intrinsic to the outcome of a match as sailing watches are to a sailing race. Accurate timekeeping devices have been a crucial part of nautical navigation since the 1700s, allowing crews to calculate longitude and revolutionizing sea travel. When it comes to yacht racing, timing is just as important, with each vessel jockeying for position to cross the invisible start line before their competitors. Like racing yachts themselves, the watches built for this sport combine some laudable feats of engineering with an unmistakable seafaring aesthetic. They also look just as good in the office as on deck.
Panerai Luminor Luna Rossa Regatta
As a sponsor of the America’s Cup, the world’s foremost sailing event scheduled to be held next in 2021, Panerai’s purpose-built Luminor is well equipped for race day with a regatta countdown timer and a flyback chronograph. Uniquely, it also features a textured dial made from the high-tech fabric used in monohull sails and a case made out of Carbotech, Panerai’s proprietary carbon fibre composite.
IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide
As its name suggests, this sporty chronograph is designed more for watching the race from the comforts of the club (or better yet, a yacht floating nearby) than the rigours of competition. Still, it has more than enough functionality to stand up to a day on the water, including a high and low tide indicator, moon phase indicator and a strap modelled after the texture of sailing rope.
Richard Mille RM 60-01
In keeping with the more-is-better philosophy of the brand, Richard Mille’s yachting watch is suitably over-the-top, featuring a 30-minute countdown timer, a three-dimensional rotating bezel (which allows sailors to determine their direction without a compass) and a flyback chronograph which can be restarted with the push of a single button. All of this is contained in a massive, 50mm titanium case. Sailors, after all, don’t have to worry about shirt cuffs.
Rolex Yacht-Master II
Rolex’s ties to the world of yachting go back more than half a century, and as the sponsor of some of the world’s biggest sailing races, it retains a strong relationship with the sport. It’s no surprise then that the Yacht-Master II—complete with a regatta timer, which counts down minutes to the start of a race—is one of the most respected sailing watches on land or sea.