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Seafaring Timepieces — NAUTICAL STARS

REGATTA WATCHES AND DIVE COMPANIONS FOR PROFESSIONALS AND YACHT-PARTIES

DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE SWANKY DEMEANOUR OF TODAY’S NAUTICAL AND DIVE-INSPIRED WATCHES. These hefty, often gilded, wrist companions may see more action at nightclubs than actual sea expeditions in recent years. But they all are forged by the most stringent of tests — out in the deep blue and harsh elements.

The notion of a nautically compatible timekeeper surfaced in the 1920s with early-day waterproof watches. Decades later, military requirements during World War II played a significant role in their advancement. Wartime conditions demanded uncompromising functionality, and the stringent criteria led to a slew of innovative features that transformed mere waterproof watches into professional underwater instruments. Subsequently, these watches evolved further as technology progressed. Modern versions are now endowed with high-performance features ranging from extreme water resistance, to countdown complications allowing sailors to calculate regatta start times.

One may not wear such ocean-inspired timepieces for reasons other than pairing them with your weekend wardrobe. But be assured they are more than up to the task if called upon to perform at a high-stakes regatta or an exploratory deep dive.

PATEK PHILIPPE AQUANAUT TRAVEL TIME

Introduced in 1997, the Aquanaut was billed as a younger alternative to the Nautilus, with both sporting similar sea sports-inspired aesthetics, notably the watches’ porthole-shaped cases, screw-down crowns and semi-casual disposition. This year, the collection is updated with a dual-time zone feature that was last seen in the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time from 2015. The complication is noted for its ease-of-use, allowing the user to set the second time zone via the crown, and adjust it forward or back in one-hour increments via pushers on the side. Often perceived as an entry-level Patek Philippe, there is nothing pedestrian or low budget about this offering, which is clad in a rose gold case and complemented by a rubber strap.

BLANCPAIN FIFTY FATHOMS BATHYSCAPE

Any watch historian tracing the evolution of dive watches will inadvertently, at some point, lead you to Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms at the genesis of this category of timepieces. The original Fifty Fathoms, introduced in the 1950s, has features that continue to be used in modern submersible watches — such as a lockable, unidirectional bezel optimised for tracking air supply; anti-magnetism; sound waterproofing; and dial construction that allow for legibility underwater. Flaunting a cool blue dial with grey ceramic bezel, this year’s Fifty Fathoms Bathyscape offers the aforementioned winsome features and then some; including being powered by Blancpain’s automatic 1315 movement with silicon balance spring that’s known for its chronometric performance.

AUDEMARS PIGUETAUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK

Offshore Diver Chronograph In typical Royal Oak Offshore fashion, the dive watch line of this hugely popular collection entices with a combination of heft, style and performance. Available in four “funky” colour combinations — spanning conventional ocean blue to eye-popping hues of orange, yellow and green — this timepiece takes no prisoners where out-and-about flamboyance is concerned. But that’s not saying that the watches are all about style and no substance. The coloured dials come with high-contrast numerals and chronograph sub-dials for optimum legibility underwater, while dive functionality is well-ensured with features like a rotating inner bezel with dive time indication, screwed-lock crowns and water resistance to 300 m.

MODERN VERSIONS ARE NOW ENDOWED WITH HIGH-PERFORMANCE FEATURES, RANGING FROM EXTREME WATER RESISTANCE TO SAILING APPLICATIONS

FRANCK MULLER GRAVITY YACHTING

We’re pretty sure you won’t be subjecting the Gravity Yachting to the harsh elements of the high seas. Looking resplendent in its gold case, which frames a midnight blue dial with matching alligator strap, the watch looks right at home on the wrist of a superyacht owner. At the heart of this manual-winding timepiece is a tourbillon, which occupies more than half the space on the dial. It’s similar to the one featured in the Gravity Tourbillon, flaunting an elliptical shape and aluminium cage, and is the world’s largest tourbillon, measuring 21.2 mm in diameter. Although this is not an all-out sports watch, plenty of nautical references decorate the watch, from a wind rose-shaped tourbillon cage, to the display of coordinates on the inner dial flange.

OMEGA SEAMASTER PLANET OCEAN 43.5 MM AUTO

Fans of the Seamaster collection are treated to a gamut of models this year, from chronograph offerings to GMT versions. More importantly, all new models have been supercharged with new Master Chronometer movements, renowned for their ultra-precise chronometric performance and record-breaking anti-magnetism that repels magnetic interference to more than 15,000 gauss. This particular model entices with no-nonsense functionality that complements the formidable engine beneath its imposing steel case. Equipped with 600 m water resistance, screw-down crowns and helium escape value for dive readiness, the timepiece’s sportive allure is accentuated by its unidirectional ceramic bezel featuring rubber covering and proprietary Liquidmetal numerals.

THE NOTION OF A NAUTICALLY COMPATIBLE TIMEKEEPER SURFACED IN THE 1920S WITH EARLY-DAY WATERPROOF WATCHES

CVSTOS SEALINER REGATA AUTOMATIC

Brimming with aesthetic references to sailboat construction — porthole-style bezel and case back, skeletonised rotor shaped like a racing sailboat rudder, chronograph pushed that recall sailboat horn cleats, among others — the Sealiner Regata Automatic will also serve competitive sailors well in actual races. Its automatic chronograph movement features a regatta countdown timer, which the user can activate 15 minutes before the start of a race. The timer counts down in fiveminute intervals, right down to the moment when the starting gun fires to signal the commencement of the regatta. For those unfamiliar to competitive sailing, the minutes leading up to the start of a race is vital to sailors as they manoeuvre their boats to take pole position, in order to gain a lead advantage.

ULYSSE NARDIN MARINE CHRONOGRAPH ANNUAL CALENDAR

Truth be told, this dashing timepiece is better suited to navigating the corporate world than choppy seas. Encased in stainless steel with the choice of navy or eggshell coloured dial, this timepiece is poised comfortably at the smart-casual crossroads: the chronograph feature endows it with athleticism, while the annual calendar complication makes it an ideal office accompaniment. Even more impressive is the movement that drives the watch. The automatic Calibre UN-153 with state-of-the-art silicium escapement and spring is conceived entirely in-house. And if you are wondering, the ‘Marine’ inspiration can be found in the watch’s well-considered design, from dial design that references marine chronometers, to the ribbed bezel and screw-down crown that are common to nautically inspired timekeepers.

CORUM ADMIRAL’S CUP LEGEND 47 WORLDTIMER

Want to sail the seven seas? Corum’s iconic sports model not only tells you the time, but also a second time zone and its corresponding city. Simply set the second time zone (indicated on a rotating 24-hour disc) along with the city via the crown, and you’re set. Aesthetically, this timepiece is imposing; measuring 47 mm across with rose gold bezel and titanium case that combines familiarity with a sense of adventure. On the inner dial flange are 12 nautical pennants at the hour markers, a signature of the collection. The dial, though, emanates modernity with its openworked construction, covered by a smoked sapphire crystal that showcases the automatic movement underneath.