A guide to some of the best watches for sailing

The Editorial Team

So, what makes a good sailing watch?

There is very little need in this day and age for a ship’s clock to tell accurate time. Not with the sheer amount of precise and practical luxury watches for sailing on offer on the market right now. Watches for sailing boast unique sporty appeal and are often worn just as much for their signature style as they are a tool for navigating the waters. Digital watches will give you millisecond accuracy, whilst analogue watches for sailing look classic with their traditional styling and a choice of different dial designs to pick from.

So, what makes a good sailing watch? Well, timepieces that hold up under adverse weather conditions and extreme external environments are, of course, a given – therefore some sort of water resistance is required, alongside a selection of strong, corrosive-resistant materials. As well as size, the strap of a sailing watch should also be carefully considered. Whilst metal bracelets that are resistant to saltwater are a good idea, synthetic bands and rubber straps are also remarkably practical since these dry quickly and offer comfort on the wrist for hours and hours of wear. So, here is a guide to some of the best watches for sailing on the market. The list is a mix of affordable and high-end watches, demonstrating the broad range of straps, dial colours, and materials on offer.

Omega Speedmaster X-33 Regatta

The Omega Speedmaster X-33 Regatta watch has a Professional Regatta Function that comes in handy for all sailing-related tasks. Whilst out on the water, the watch is both stylish and comfortable. The watch is limited to 2,017 pieces worldwide and was developed as a tribute to Emirates Team New Zealand's bid to win the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda. If you press the race button at 10 o’clock the watch switches into a countdown mode where it will measure the first hour of a sailing or yacht race. Two races with ten buoys can also be tracked in the logbook, whilst the rest of the digital functions include two alarms, a perpetual calendar, calendar and three different time zone features. Crafted from lightweight titanium, the Omega Speedmaster X-33 Regatta watch had to make our list of the best watches for sailing. It also features 30-meter water resistance and a black nylon strap with blue contrast stitching to match the blue elements around the edge of the black dial. 

Rolex Yacht-Master II

For those that can afford to spend good money on a watch for sailing, the Rolex Yacht-Master II watch is primed for such tasks. Not just that, but like all Rolex watches, it’s a life companion, thanks to its strong and robust Oystersteel case. This highly resistant superalloy is integrated with 100-meter water resistance and is powered by an automatic movement that offers up to 72 hours of power reserve. Tailored for Regatta races, the Rolex Yacht-Master II has a rotating bezel that acts as a programmable countdown. Skippers can gauge their best course of action whilst out on the water. The bezel can be set and synchronised to the sequence of race start times, working in conjunction with the movement as opposed to working independently. Additional features of this sailing watch include a white dial with dark blue and red accents, a small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock, and a stop seconds for precise timing.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta

Although the Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta watch can be used as a standard chronograph it can also count down from a pre-set race time. What’s more, once the race has started, it can count up. The large 44mm sailing watch is water-resistant to 100 meters and features a screw-down crown and caseback, together with a crown security feature. Its navy dial with splashes of sporty yellow assists the legible hands as they make their way around the dial equipped with a date window at 6 o’clock. The watch also features a rugged dial for an easy grip and is powered by an in-house developed movement – the Calibre UN-155.

Casio SGW-100-1V

For a more budget-friendly sailing watch option, the Casio SGW-100-IV watch is a sports companion with a thermometer, digital compass, temperature sensor and world time function. A stopwatch and an automatic LED illuminator enable you to see everything you need whilst out on the water at night, plus its 200-meter water-resistant stainless steel case comes fitted on a supple rubber strap, enabling it to dry quickly if submerged in water or splashed whilst sailing the waves.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Chronograph

The Aquaracer line of watches from TAG Heuer was always intended as an instrument for professionals and adventurers. Although there are several different variations available on the market, they all share the same characteristics – superior water resistance, a legible dial and a sporty, energetic aesthetic. Perfect for satisfying any boat owner, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Chronograph watch makes our list of top watches for sailing since it features 300 meters of water resistance, luminous hour markers and hands, a date window at 3 o’clock and a large 45mm stainless steel diameter. The surface of the dial is protected by a lens of anti-reflective sapphire crystal glass, making it super easy to reference the dial without any undesirable glare affecting your view. In addition to this, the Aquaracer watch features a 30-minute sub-counter at 12 o’clock, a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock and a small seconds dial at 9 o’clock. These features are surrounded by a unidirectional rotating bezel, so if you do decide to take a plunge off the deck and into the water, you can keep track of remaining dive time without the risk of the bezel accidentally extending your time underwater.

Timex Intelligent Quartz Yacht Racer watch

One of the key features that make this sailing watch so practical is its yacht racer mode. The Timex Intelligent Quartz Yacht Racer watch is an affordable yet functional tool with injections of vibrant yellow running throughout its design. It offers three different countdown timers for one, three and five minutes, as well as an alarm that signals the last 5 seconds of the regatta timer. Accessing the time is straightforward, thanks to rectangular indexes and vivid blue and red elements to enhance legibility. This sailing watch is also 100-meter water-resistant and is powered by a reliable and highly accurate quartz movement.

Tissot Men’s Sailing Touch Watch

Having built the Touch technology over twenty years ago, the Sailing Touch watch from Tissot features a tide-calculator and a regatta countdown in one. The touch-activated functions are encased within a profile that mirrors the lines of a yacht. What’s more, the sailing watch boasts cleat-shaped pushers, a bi-metal bracelet and a special safety clip for extending over wet weather gear. Amongst the features of this watch for sailing are an EOL (battery end-of-life indicator), a meteo, a compass, 2 alarms, a perpetual calendar, a tide function, a regatta function, a speed chrono function, 2 time zones and backlight functions. The watch measures 45mm in width and wraps around the wrist with a supple rubber strap.

Corum Admiral AC One 45 Tides

Crafted from lightweight titanium, this broad 45mm watch for sailing has been manufactured by Corum and belongs to the brand’s Admiral collection. A sapphire crystal glass front protects the surface of a vivid blue dial adorned with luminous hour markers and partially skeletonised hands. These rhodium-coated hands are sent around the display via the calibre CO 277 automatic movement, capable of producing a 42-hour power reserve. A blue vulcanized rubber strap, securing with a triple folding buckle completes the look of the sporty Corum Admiral AC One 45 Tides watch. The sailing companion can indicate the time and strengths of the tide as well as the phases of the moon, the currents of the tides and the height of the tides. The 9 o’clock sub-dial will let you know whether the tide is ebbing or rising, the 12 o’clock location shows you the phases of the moon, the tidal movement and the strength of the tides, and the 6 o’clock location shows two tides for the following 24 hours.

Luminor Regatta Chrono Flyback

Lastly, the Panerai Luminor Regatta Chrono Flyback is a beast of a sailing watch, measuring in at 47mm on the wrist.Top of the range this is considered the true sailing watch above every other manufacturers.It is powered by a recent technical innovation – the P.9100/R automatic chronograph calibre. It can precede the time measurement of a race with a countdown stage, which clearly displays the minutes and seconds remaining before the start of the race itself. Crafted from corrosion-resistant titanium, the model is one of the best sailing watches out there on the market right now and features 100-meter water resistance, a black rubber strap, a 12-hour totaliser at 3 o’clock, small seconds at 9 o’clock, a central chronograph hand, and chronograph minutes hand.

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