Decorated Marines

Watches for mariners display the best of fashion, function, tide and timing

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Sailboats don't sit static at the starting line of a race like a car, horse or sprinter. And despite what racing-watch companies would like to believe, yachtsmen often hardly have time to look at their watch in the final 10 minutes leading up to launch in a race like the America's Cup competition-they're too busy jostling for position.

But once the countdown starts, you'll see them glimpsing at their wrists to precisely time their position in the last minutes of the countdown. And throughout the race itself, as they tear across the ocean splicing waves, they rely on their watches to stay abreast of the competition.

Easily the most iconic regatta timepiece is the Corum Admiral's Cup, which features the signature racing flags on its dial. Interestingly, this watch is a favorite of many non-sailors because of its appealing look. PGA player Rory Sabbatini, for instance, recently bought himself the Admiral's Cup Competition 48 in titanium and rose gold, and tennis star Martina Navratilova treated herself to an 18-karat rose gold Admiral's Cup Challenge 44 automatic chronograph recently, as well.

Nautical instruments have played a crucial role in sailing history for centuries, dating back to the 1700s when contests were held by the English and French governments for inventors and watchmakers to develop an instrument for ships. The goal? Accurately measure time and longitude and eliminate unnecessary wrecks and losses at sea.

Today, with ultimate precision in the worlds of yachting, sea-navigation and timekeeping, watchmakers instead work together with yachtsmen and top mariners to build timepieces that offer additional functions they want in and on the water. Top among those requests are regatta countdowns, ultra-water resistance and in some instances, tide indication.

Typically a regatta watch features a countdown function to show the final 10 minutes leading up to the start of the race, enabling competitors to position their boats. The first five minutes of the final 10 give the crew's time for final information exchanges with their teams on shore. The final five minutes, indicated in red, correspond to the pre-start phase-all external assistance is now forbidden.

For the sailing enthusiast there are watch brands that sponsor yacht races -all the way from vintage ships to the America's Cup-and make watches to honor those events. There are brands that sponsor yachts, captains, and-in the case of Krieger Watch Company-brands that even team up with the actual Yacht Maker. Indeed, the options seem limitless, but the watches on these pages give you a little taste of the old salt.


The Bulgari Diagono Pro Regatta houses an automatic movement and is water resistant to 1,000 feet. The watch offers a flyback function enabling reset and restart of the chronograph for timing of multiple events, and the bi-directional bezel with arrows can be used to determine strategic placements such as the optimal tack and the best end at the starting line. The watch is crafted in steel and rubber.


The stunning Corum Admiral's Cup 44 houses a Valjoux 7753 chronograph movement. It is crafted in 18-karat rose gold and offers chronograph and regatta function. The watch is equipped with a sapphire crystal and caseback and caramel dial.

TAG Heuer

The Aquaracer Caliber S Regatta Chronograph has perpetual calendar and regatta countdowns as well as the exclusive Caliber S hybrid electro-mechanical movement. It displays both time and chronograph or regatta mode using the central hands by pressing the crown, eliminating the traditional sub-dial configuration.


This Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II is crafted in 18-karat yellow gold with a special blue ceramic bezel. It houses a 42-jeweled chronometer movement and is equipped with an Oysterlock bracelet.


The Seamaster NZL-32 Chronograph was created in honor of Emirates Team New Zealand, which won the America's Cup in 1995 and participated in the recent 32 America's Cup. The watch houses the Omega Calibre 3602 self-winding movement, which is a certified chronometer, and offers 40 hours of power reserve. A seahorse, which is the symbol of the Seamaster collection, is stamped on the caseback. The case has a screw-in back and crown, ensuring water resistance to a depth of 500 feet. This version is shown with a black rubber strap with stitching.

Louis Vuitton

This Tambour XL LV Cup Regatta Automatic Chronograph from Louis Vuitton offers regatta countdown function based on the LV Cup departure principle: the five slit windows change progressively from white to blue to red in the 10 minutes before the race starts.


Krieger Watches, known for its pioneering in the tide watch arena, has teamed up with Bertram Yachts, a company with a long tradition of building yachts, to create the first Bertram Edition Krieger Tidal Watch. The watch houses a Swiss precision movement and is water resistant to nearly half a mile (2,460 feet). It features a double dome sapphire crystal for optimum clarity of the dial. The watch offers the ability to read the rising and falling of the tides. It features Bertram's signature logo on the caseback and rubber strap.


From Breitling, the Chrono Avenger M1 Yachting watch is the only chronograph that is both water resistant and operational to a depth of 1,000 meters. Crafted in titanium, the case is fitted with a screw-locked crown and a decompression valve. It offers countdown function from 10 minutes for regatta departures.


The Laureato USA 98 is crafted in 18-karat pink gold and reflects the brand's involvement with the America's Cup. The dial distinctly highlights the preceding minutes of the start of a regatta. Water resistant to 100 meters, the watch houses a mechanical 52-jeweled caliber and offers chronograph functions and 46 hours of power reserve.


Panerai watches have their roots in underwater timepieces, having created navigational and dive watches for the Royal Italian Navy since the 1930s. Today, Panerai sponsors the Panerai Classic Yacht Challenge, a circuit of vintage yacht races. The Luminor 1950 Regatta Rattrapante (with a special split-seconds function) was designed to record the races. Created in a limited edition of 500 units, the chronometer houses an automatic movement created exclusively by Panerai, with the distinctive column wheel system for switching the chronograph functions.