Yachting watches are a very niche type of watch and can also be called regatta timers or sailing watches. They are hefty sport watches that boast the water-resistance of dive watches but have additional complications for yachtsmen.
The History of Yacht Watches
Timing regattas, or sailing races, require precise timekeeping. The moments that lead up to the beginning of a race are difficult as each yachtsman must keep their boat steady in the wind and current. So, they need to control their boats as well as countdown to the starting gun. Yacht watches were specifically designed to aid with the countdown using special complications.
In the late 1950’s the earliest patents for rotating bezels were filed. These rotating bezels, used to time the moments before a race, showed up in the 1960’s on a model called the Aquastar. This Aquastar Regatta was one of the first yacht watches on the market. Other early creators included Heuer and Breitling, with the Heuer Yacht Timer, Heuer Regatta and Breitling Co-Pilots.
By the 1970’s OMEGA had gotten in on the market with the Seamaster Yachting watch. Breitling also debuted the Chronomat Yachting watch in the late 1980’s as a variation on their already popular Chronomat. Finally, in 1992, Rolex debuted the Yacht-Master ref. 16627 and have continued to evolve the watch as it has grown in popularity with the introduction of the Yacht-Master II. The yacht watch, despite its specialization, continues to be popular among watch aficionados.
Characteristics of a Yacht Watch
- Countdown timer – All Yacht watches have some sort of countdown timer. This could be based on a disc system in the dial, or markings on the bezel, but each allows the wearer to count down to the beginning of a race.
- Water Resistance – Like their dive watch predecessors, Yacht Watches are water resistant, typically to 100 meters
- Durability – Due to the conditions that many racers face in the water, Yacht watches must be ultra-durable
- Chronograph – Most yacht watches have a chronograph feature