photography by BRAD BRIDGERS
written by BEN CLYMER
The regatta timer is a relatively recent concept. In the 1970s, Heuer and Breitling teamed up to develop the world’s first wearable nautical chronograph after successfully collaborating on the development of self-winding watches in 1969. Times were lean in the high-end watch world, and the two companies realized that a rising tide of innovation would raise all boats.
Heuer was first on deck with the Heuer Skipper. Festooned with a multi-colored dial and an innovative countdown register, it would be the archetype for all nautical chronographs that followed. Breitling’s take on the genre, the Breitling Transocean, was equally impressive, and produced in smaller numbers, which has kept it in high demand to this day. These two watches were the earliest and most honest approaches to building a casual aquatic sportsman’s watch that married style with professional specs.
Strangely, the regatta timer complication completely disappeared from the watch world radar until 2013, when Panerai revived the concept with its Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio. A year later, the company went even further into the deep, launching a new regatta timer with an impressive in-house chronograph, dedicated countdown mechanism, totalizer, and finely finished movement, visible through its sapphire caseback. Half sailing watch, half dive watch, the new Panerai was at the cutting edge of modern horological craftsmanship, but still anchored stylishly in the past.
“Half sailing watch, half dive watch, the new Panerai was at the cutting edge of modern horological craftsmanship, but still anchored stylishly in the past.”
Another vintage-inspired classic comes courtesy of Jaeger-LeCoultre, which demonstrated way back in 1959 its ability to create wearable, beautiful, and functional tools for those who live and work on the water. JLC’s Tribute to Deep Sea Alarm is a limited-edition dive watch that pays homage to its original chiming diver. Complete with a retro “LeCoultre” signed dial, it was produced in a limited edition of just 359 pieces. Today, it remains a purist’s favorite, prized for its faithful interpretation of the cult classic. But don’t be fooled by the Tribute’s vintage looks: inside beats a self-winding movement manufactured completely in Le Sentier.
Few would have predicted Cartier’s entrance into the nautical watch game, but this year they dove right in, offering up a handsome diver with professional-grade chops. Sized at 42mm, the Calibre de Cartier Diver is one of the few timepieces on the market today with an in-house movement that is also ISO-certified for technical diving.
Lastly, we have the Patek Philippe. The 5164A, or Aquanaut Travel Time, combines a well-seasoned sports watch with an instrumental complication even landlubbers can appreciate: a second time zone. On top of that, you get an easy care rubber strap, ribbed dial, and one of the most understated Patek Philippes produced today. Talk about wind in your sails.
“The Transocean was equally impressive, and produced in smaller numbers, which has kept it in high demand to this day.”