Marine watches for yachting

Some of the finest watches ever made were designed for yachting, including the Rolex Yacht-Master series | Source: Rolex

Set Sail: The Five Best Marine Watches for Yachting

Correct timekeeping is one of the most important things for the captain and crew of a seagoing vessel. Whether it’s timing your start or checking barometric pressure, an accurate marine watch can be the difference between a successful expedition and getting lost.

Many watches on the market today are made for sailing with barometers and depth measurement included as common features. Smartwatch technology such as a heart rate monitors and GPS tracking are becoming increasingly common too.

The choice between digital display and analogue is a personal one. Some prefer the prestige and tradition of a fine, Swiss-made analogue, while others enjoy the advanced tech offered by modern digital watches. Traditional timekeeping instruments use complex movements and advanced complications, such as countdown timers for racing and a GMT timezone complication for long voyages. While more up to date technology including chart plotting, auto-pilot control and contactless payments are available on modern digital marine watches.

Some of the most famous and expensive watches on the planet were designed for yachting. Renowned watchmakers such as Rolex, Tag Heuer and Omega all produce watches designed for marine use.

The following is a selection of some of the most capable marine watches out there. Each retains a pleasing aesthetic that wouldn’t look out of place at work or a social occasion, but are very useful when on the water.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II

Approx. A$88,000

The start of a yacht race is a chaotic and complicated affair where timing is everything. In a complex dance based around position, right of way and wind direction, boats manoeuvre around the course trying to time their run through the starting line to the nearest instant. In these situations mistakes are measured in seconds and having an accurate countdown timer, essentially a reverse chronograph, is of the utmost importance.

A tactile ring command bezel on the Yacht-Master II ensures you are able to easily set the countdown timer whilst shouting at the crew, while the aesthetic appeal of Rolex’s own Oystersteel is understated and elegant. The metal is highly resistant to corrosion and the Yacht Master II is guaranteed waterproof to 100 meters depth.

Rolex is renowned as makers of the most precise wristwatches with very accurate complications, it is therefore no surprise that the Yacht-Master II is one of the most sought after time pieces by the captains and crew of sporting yachts around the world. Buying one now may be a very good investment as there are rumours that the Yacht Master II will be discontinued and although this is purely speculation at the moment, with no confirmation from Rolex, making an investment in a Yacht-master II may pay dividends in the future.

Corum Admiral’s Cup Seafender 48 Tides

Approx. A$5,340

The Admiral’s Cup was an ocean yacht race held off the Isle of Wight from 1957 to 1999 featuring yachts from around the world and it was considered the premier yacht race of its time. Corum Admiral’s Cup collection of watches are inspired by the biennial event.

This iconic watch is distinguished by its 12-sided case with nautical flags on each number that represent the 12 flags of the international code of naval signals used by ships to communicate. It features a moon phase and tides coefficient, plus timing of the next two high and low tides and the current strength and tidal process indicator, handy for working out the direction and strength of underwater currents.

There were only 300 Corum Seafender 48 Tides marine watches made and although they boast a 48mm titanium case, they feel much lighter when yachting than other watches of comparable size. The Seafender 48 Tides sits comfortably on the wrist and is ergonomically designed to not pull on arm hairs or feel too hot on a summer day.

Corum is known for its dress watches and the aesthetic appeal of the Seafender 48 Tides is undeniable. The Admirals Cup series of watches have always been head turners and stand out in a crowded room with their distinct shape and quality construction.

Corum Admiral's Cup Seafender 48 Tides
Nautical flags are used to represent the hours on the watch face | Source: Spblux

Garmin Quatix 6

Approx. A$950

The Garmin Quatix 6 is a marine smartwatch that comes in both a 47mm case and 51mm case and is packed with useful features. It is available in three versions: the standard Quatix 6 model, the Quatix 6 Titanium with a titanium bracelet and the Quatix 6X Solar, which also has a titanium bracelet but comes with a solar charging feature.

The large display is fully customisable, you can choose from a huge range of dial styles and hand shapes as well as the ability to change what the four sub-dials indicate. The usual smart watch measurements of heart rate, steps, calories burned, sleep quality and floors climbed are present, but the watch also includes marine watch functions for yachting including a GPS, barometric altimeter, compass, thermometer, accelerometer, pulse ox and gyroscope.

The connectivity of the Quatix is very useful, depending on the navigation equipment of your yacht, the watch has the ability to adjust your heading through the use of autopilot as well as monitoring speed and depth. You can even download navigational maps and view your position at all times, useful when motoring around unfamiliar waters.

A fully fledged smartwatch, the Quatix 6 can access your emails and texts, plus you can even view street maps. The watch is great for sailing and features a starting line timer that is connected to GPS, giving you the best chance of beginning the race at maximum speed and in best position.

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronograph

Approx. A$8,390

A sailing watch for those who enjoy using traditional mechanical movements with their accuracy and elegance. The Superocean Heritage Chronograph is one of Breitling’s most desirable timepieces and a collector’s item for those who enjoy using marine watches.

The aesthetic of this watch is unparalleled. Its blue dial, black bezel and mesh bracelet make it one of the most beautiful watches you can buy today. Combine this with Breitling’s reputation for making extremely high quality timepieces for adventurous pursuits, like aeronautics, and the Superocean Heritage Chronograph quickly becomes a sailor’s best friend.

Inspired by the original Superocean watch that Breitling released in the 1950s, the watch is water resistant up to 300m and uses the extremely accurate COSC-certified, caliber 13 chronometer. Available in a variety of materials including stainless steel and 18k red gold, the Superocean Heritage Chronograph features either black or blue dials. Small seconds plus chronograph minutes and hours measurements are displayed on the sub dials and the blue dial itself changes hues depending on lighting.

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Chronograph

Approx. A$9,215

The Omega Seamaster series is most easily recognisable as the watch of choice for none other than James Bond, worn by Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig in the famous movie franchise over the last 20 years, and is an excellent marine watch for yachting. The chronograph upgrade to the Seamaster was released in 2019, the result is an incredibly accurate, sophisticated watch, that is water resistant to 300-meters depth and features the Omega Master Chronometer caliber 9900 movement.

It contains 54 jewels and uses a magnetic resistant silicon balance-spring, giving it amazing accuracy. Double barrels are mounted in series and mean this self-winding movement has a generous 60-hour power reserve. A laser engraved wave pattern delineates the watch from its predecessor, with a small running seconds sub-dial at the nine o’clock position, and a 12-hour chronograph sub-register on its right.

The watch features a helium escape valve, used to release built up gas from underneath the case when worn in a diving bell. Helium buildup from the pressurised environment of a diving bell can damage the inner workings of intricate timepieces and the release valve on the Seamaster Diver 300M Chronograph keeps everything functioning accurately.

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Chronograph
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Chronograph is James Bond’s watch of choice | Source: Omega

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