For most of us, watches are more than just mere accessories that tell time. Today, timepieces are also frequently used as tools to guide people through various activities in their daily lives. This is largely because, over the decades, technological innovations have introduced countless functions and features into the watchmaking world. This has allowed the purpose of watches to broaden and branch out as well.
A perfect representation of this would be the existence of watches specifically used in industries and activities such as aviation, motorsports, diving, and even sailing. In fact, the last of those industries is actually related to our main topic for today. In this article, we will delve into what sailing watches are, how they can help us carry out nautical activities and some of the best sailing watches that are worth checking out today.
What is a Sailing Watch?
Sailing watches, also referred to as yachting watches, are a specific type of timepiece best suited for maritime-related conditions. For a timekeeper to be considered a sailing watch, it needs to have certain specifications, like high accuracy and an impressive water resistance rating. There are also some models with additional functions meant to aid seafarers and yachtsmen in their tasks. That being said, when it comes to aesthetics and design, sailing watches are not necessarily limited to a typical nautical style. While some sailing pieces are specifically marine-inspired, the majority of these models simply boast sporty-looking exteriors.
15 Best Sailing Watches
Without further ado, here are some of the best sailing watches available in the market right now.
1. Omega Speedmaster X-33 Regatta Chronograph
Starting off this list with a bang is the Omega Speedmaster X-33 Regatta Chronograph, which is one of the best models for professional sailors out there. Just with a single glance at its robust build, you can tell that it is a powerful timepiece packed with impressive capabilities.
This Omega Speedmaster watch is presented in a 45mm lightweight, scratch-resistant titanium case along with an anti-reflective sapphire crystal and a black nylon fabric strap with blue stitching. The black watch face has a hybrid layout, featuring both digital and analog displays. This includes a bezel with a minute track scale, luminous hands and hour indices, three LED windows, and cool blue, red, and white accents. Driven by a quartz OMEGA 5620 caliber, this limited edition model also comes with the following: an alarm, a date function, a countdown timer, a race timer, a logbook, and more.
You can get this watch for approximately $5,900 USD.
2. Garmin quatix® 6
The Garmin quatix® 6 is one of the best digital sailing watches you can invest in. It is a must-have for all the tech-savvy folks out there who enjoy timepieces with utmost functionality both on land and at sea.
This Garmin model has a fiber-reinforced polymer case paired with a comfortable silicone strap in blue. The watch face consists of a screwed-in stainless steel bezel and a transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display. Aside from the usual timekeeping abilities, some of its other main functions include health monitoring, GPS tracking, smartphone connectivity, various sports modes, boat data streaming, a built-in barometer, tide tables, and lots more. Lastly, it has a battery life of around 14 days, so you do not have to worry about bringing this timepiece with you on long boat trips.
With a substantial depth rating of around 100 meters, this smartwatch retails at just $699 USD and is an ideal companion for all your ocean adventures.
3. Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronograph 44 Ref. A13313161C1S1
Next up, we have the Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronograph 44 Ref. A13313161C1S1, with its sporty and highly-functional exterior. Everything about this model screams nautical-inspired, which makes sense because it belongs to Breitling’s iconic diving collection.
This Breitling Superocean piece comes in a 44mm stainless steel case paired with a mesh-patterned rubber bracelet and a unidirectional rotating bezel in blue. The matching sunray blue dial follows a classic analog layout featuring oversized arrow hands, applied indices, day-date windows, and a chronograph display with 3 sub-dials. Lastly, this watch is powered by a COSC-certified Breitling Caliber 13, which has a 48-hour power reserve and a water resistance rating of 200 meters.
This is one of the more classic sailing watches on this list and is priced at around $6,100 USD.
4. Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta Chrono Flyback Ref. PAM00526
The Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta Chrono Flyback is one of those sailing watches made especially for professional seafarers out there. It has a distinct and robust exterior — thanks to its unusual, bulky cushion-shaped case and durable titanium build. This is paired with an oversized crown and semi-circle crown guard, and caoutchouc strap in black.
The dial of this Panerai Luminor 1950 piece features a black backdrop, with thin sword-shaped hands, luminous hour indices and Arabic numerals, and a chronograph layout with 2 sub-dials for the small seconds and flyback counters. As per its name, this watch also comes with a regatta countdown function and is powered by an automatic P.9100/R caliber. It has an impressive 72 hour-power reserve and a water resistance capacity of 100 meters.
This is a great sailing watch for all the serious regatta racers out there and you can purchase it for around $17,200 USD.
5. Bulova Marine Star Chronograph Ref. 98B301
The Bulova Marine Star Chronograph Ref. 98B301 is yet another nautical-inspired piece with a stunning blue dial and bezel that is reminiscent of the ocean. The case, bezel, bracelet, and crown guards of this Bulova Marine Star watch are all made of scratch-resistant stainless steel. The rotating bezel, however, has a blue insert marked with an elapsed time scale in rose gold that blends perfectly with the watch’s rose gold pushers and crown.
Like the bezel, the dial of this Bulova piece also comes in deep blue. It is furnished with bold luminous indices, sword-shaped hands, a date window at 6 o’clock, and a chronograph layout with 3 sub-dials. In addition, this 6-hand model is powered by a quartz movement and has a 200-meter depth rating.
This is one of the more affordable sailing watches on the market with a price tag of just $575 USD.
6. Alpina Sailing Yachttimer Countdown
The Alpina Sailing Yachttimer Countdown is one of the most rugged, sporty sailing watches on this list. It has a 44mm stainless steel case paired with a robust black rubber strap and a handy rotating compass bezel in black. The matching black dial is furnished with countdown windows for the regatta timer, along with luminous hands and hour markers in red and white for greater contrast and legibility. This watch is powered by a self-winding movement and has an impressive 300-meter water resistance rating.
This Alpina watch is no longer part of the brand’s current catalogue. However, you can still find it going for around $3,060 USD on the second-hand market, depending on the seller and the condition of the watch.
7. Rolex Yacht-Master 2 Ref. 116680
Of course, this list of best sailing watches would not be complete without a model from the Rolex Yacht-Master 2 collection. The Yacht-Master 2 Ref. 116680 is one of the most popular sailing watches ever released. It has a classic, sporty exterior that goes really well with the complexity of its watch face.
This Rolex model comes in a 44mm case and bracelet made from Oystersteel, which is a robust, shock- and corrosion-resistant material developed by the Swiss brand. Fitted on top of the case is a matching Oystersteel bezel with a bright blue insert. The white dial of this watch follows a unique layout with thin luminous hands and compact hour markers, a stop-seconds sub-dial, and a regatta countdown timer in the form of an elongated arch. All of these features are powered by the brand’s in-house, self-winding Caliber 4161.
If you are a sailing professional, this is a great luxury sailing watch to invest in for around $23,600 USD.
8. Seiko Prospex Marine Master Ref. SBEX005
The Seiko Prospex Marine Master Ref. SBEX005 is a beautiful timepiece that draws inspiration from the ocean. It is the perfect sailing watch for those who are completely enamored with both the marine sport and the sea itself.
This Seiko Prospex watch is presented in a hardy 48mm titanium case and bracelet with a rotating bezel in metallic blue. With its larger build, this piece is best suited for those with average-to-big wrists. Its exquisite wave-patterned blue dial consists of large luminous markers, sword-shaped hands, and a small date window between the 4 and 5 o’clock positions. Powered by a Japanese automatic movement, this Seiko watch packs a punch with its incredible 1000-meter water resistance rating.
The Seiko Prospex Marine Master Ref. SBEX005 retails at approximately $5,089 USD.
9. Panerai Luminor Marina Ref. PAM00778
The Panerai Luminor Marina Ref. PAM00778 is one of the most versatile and classy sailing watches you can get. Although it is frequently used for nautical activities, this watch does not have a marine-inspired design or super sporty exterior. Thus, you can pair it with just about any attire and bring it with you to all sorts of events, including dinner parties and even the office.
This Panerai watch has a cushion-shaped stainless steel case paired with a leather strap in light brown. Like the other Panerai Luminor models, it has an oversized crown that is easy to grip and turn and the signature semi-circle crown guard. Meanwhile, its exquisite white dial is adorned with luminous sword-shaped hands, small circular hour markers, neat Arabic numerals, and a small-seconds counter. This three-hand watch is equipped with a hand-wound P.6000 caliber and has a 100-meter water resistance capacity.
If you want a versatile, classy sailing watch that you can use every day, you simply have to fork out around $5,400 USD for this Panerai Luminor Marina Ref. PAM00778.
10. Bremont Regatta AC
Next up, we have the Bremont Regatta AC, which is one of the best models from the brand’s selection of sailing and nautical-inspired watches. It comes with impressive functions that will surely appeal to both casual and professional sailors out there.
This Bremont timepiece is presented in a 43mm lightweight titanium case along with a Temple Island rubber strap in black and a sleek rotating bezel. The white dial has luminescent hands and indices, a date window, and a chronograph display with three sub-dials, including a countdown timer. This dial is also peppered with red and blue accents, giving it a more colorful, vibrant look. Powering the watch is an in-house Bremont self-winding movement with a 42-hour power reserve and a 100-meter water resistance rating.
Retailing at around $15,900 USD, this is a must-have timepiece for yachtsmen who prefer complex yet playful timepieces.
11. Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta Ref. 1553-155-3/43
The Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta Ref. 1553-155-3/43 is a model with very modern, nautical-inspired aesthetics and an array of handy abilities. This Ulysse Nardin Marine watch has an exceptionally advanced-looking design, with its gear-like bezel, patterned sector dial, and sleek metallic blue and silver accents.
The Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta Ref. 1553-155-3/43 comes in a 44mm stainless steel case paired with a sporty rubber strap in blue. The sunray blue sector dial consists of a smooth outer ring, a chapter ring marked with a bright yellow regatta countdown timer, and a patterned inner dial. On the outer ring, you can find silver hour indices, stylized Roman numeral markers, and a date window, while the inner dial is furnished with luminous lozenge hands. A small seconds counter straddles all three sections of the dial, enhancing its sophisticated, high-tech look. These complications are all driven by a UN-155 Manufacture movement with a 60-hour power reserve.
With a price tag of approximately $19,420 USD, this is the perfect modern watch to wear on your open water sails.
12. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Ref. 126.96.36.199.03.001
Next up, we have another model from Omega, but one from its iconic Seamaster Aqua Terra collection instead. The sporty and professional Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Ref. 188.8.131.52.03.001 is a watch that can complete any nautical task, both above and underwater. This Seamaster watch comes in a 41mm stainless steel case paired with a bracelet made of the same material. Its striking blue dial features a horizontal teak pattern, inspired by the look of luxury sailing boats. It is also furnished with luminous triangular indices, hands, a date window at 6 o’clock, and a minute track scale on the rim of the dial.
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Ref. 184.108.40.206.03.001 is powered by a self-winding Caliber 8900 movement, which is certified by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology. It possesses impressive technical specifications, including a 150-meter depth rating, a 60-hour power reserve, and a resistance to magnetic fields of up to 15,000 Gauss.
You can get your hands on this Aqua Terra model for around $5,700 USD.
13. Frederique Constant Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown Ref. FC-380GT4H6B
The Frederique Constant Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown is probably one of the most elegant modern sailing watches you can purchase. Everything about its design screams simple sophistication, making it a great accessory to wear to lavish yacht parties or high-profile regatta races.
This Frederique Constant model comes in a 42mm brushed stainless steel case and three-link bracelet that gives off a chic, professional vibe. Its suave dark grey dial boasts a guilloché pattern, luminous dauphine hands, silver indices, and 5 circular windows at the 10 to 12 o’clock position for the countdown timer. Underneath this refined exterior, you can find an automatic FC-380 caliber with a 48-hour power reserve and a 100-meter depth rating.
If you are willing to shell out around $4,025 USD, you should definitely consider getting this watch for your next yacht race!
14. Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale Ref. YMNGMT39-GMS
The Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale Ref. YMNGMT39-GMS is the only model on this list that was designed by a professional from the French Navy. It is a military-grade sailing watch that is built to survive the harshest circumstances.
This Yema sailing watch is presented in a slim 39mm stainless steel case paired with a blue and yellow fabric strap and a rotating GMT bezel. The matching blue dial features large hands and hour indices that are coated in Super-LumiNova for improved visibility even on dark stormy sailing trips, and a date window in white next to the 3 o’clock marker. Aside from that, it also has an impressive 300-meter water resistance capacity and is equipped with an in-house YEMA3000 caliber.
If you are looking for a tried and tested sailing watch, make sure to check this piece for around $1,049 USD.
15. Tissot Sailing-Touch Ref. T056.420.27.051.01
Lastly, we have the Tissot Sailing-Touch Ref. T056.420.27.051.01, which is another digital sailing watch packed with countless useful features. One of the best things about this particular Tissot model is that it caters specifically to those who enjoy sailing, be it casually or professionally.
The Tissot Sailing-Touch Ref. T056.420.27.051.01 comes in an anti-magnetic 45mm stainless steel case paired with a bi-material bracelet in black made of rubber and steel. The dial has a sleek hybrid layout with luminous indices and a touch-screen tactile display that cleverly mimics the radar system of a boat. Some of its functions include a compass, alarms, a perpetual calendar, a tide indicator, a regatta timer, multiple time zones, and more — all of which are powered by a powerful Renata CR 2032-N quartz movement.
With a price tag of just $1,220 USD, this is one of the best multi-functional watches you can invest in, especially for serious sailors.
Features of a Sailing Watch
The list of 15 sailing watches we have curated above are some of the best models in the market, but it is by no means an exhaustive list. There are plenty of other excellent sailing watches out there, and you simply have to do the research to find out which is best suited to your taste. To help you along the way, here are some of the key characteristics that you can find in sailing watches, although it should be noted that these are not necessarily present in every single sailing watch.
Superior Water Resistance
Even though yachtsmen do not necessarily go swimming or diving when sailing, having a watch with an excellent depth rating is still very important, given the nature of the environment they are in. The ocean is known to be a volatile, unstable domain so there is always a possibility of you and your watch getting dunked into water, whether you like it or not. While there are no official criteria, a water resistance capacity of at least 100 meters should suffice.
Another essential characteristic of a sailing watch is its excellent durability. Due to the changes in the environment that may occur, sailors need a well-built timepiece made from quality materials that can take any kind of damage, be it scratches, hard impacts, or corrosion. With that in mind, it is best to look for timepieces made of materials with scratch, shock, and corrosion-resistant properties, like stainless steel steel, aluminum, copper, soft rubber, and more.
Telling time is the bare minimum when it comes to sailing watches. While not all nautical-inspired models come with additional complications, multi-functionality is always a welcomed bonus. Some of these features may include a compass, a barometer, a GMT display, and many more.
Many sailing watches today are also equipped with a regatta timer, which is a crucial complication in yacht racing. A regatta timer allows the wearer to track how much time is left before the competitors in the regatta can start the cross line. This function is essential in sailing competitions because boats and yachts are in constant motion, which means the countdown is necessary as sailors maneuver the waters before the official start of the race. Ultimately, all these complications help make the sailing process easier to handle for wearers, which is the essence of a true sailing watch.
We hope that this list of 15 sailing watches has helped you to get more familiar with some of the numerous sailing watches out there. Each and every piece has its own share of strengths and weaknesses, so it is understandable if you are a little confused about which model to get. At the end of the day, it all depends on your personal criteria and preferences but rest assured that you will find the perfect watch for your sailing adventures.
Photo Credits: WatchShopping and Official Watch Sites
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