If you’re out at sea, whether for work or leisure, it’s important to have a watch that fits the bill. Sailing is a sport that’s associated with luxury, but it’s also a sport that requires the right tools. The very best sailing watches combine luxury and functionality.
The cultural symbolism of sailing has meant that many of the leading watch brands have entered the sailing watches market, each seeking to make their mark. Each brand brings a unique offering and a unique emphasis, meaning there is rich variety of timepieces to choose from, depending on your needs and your tastes.
Please note that there can be quite a lot of overlap between sailing watches and divers watches. This guide contains some watches that could also fit comfortably in the diving watches category.
What to look for in a sailing watch
Legibility is of the utmost importance with sailings watches. When you’re battling the waves, you haven’t got time for messing around – you need to know the time at a glance. For competitions, chronometer functionality is a must. And for optimum resistance to the elements, a sailing watch should be paired with a steel or rubber bracelet, rather than leather.
So without further ado, let’s plunge in and take a look at 5 of the best sailing watches out there today. Each of these comes with our recommendation, and any one of them will set you up with what you need to conquer the ocean.
1. Rolex Yacht-Master
The Rolex Yacht-Master, along with the more technologically advanced Yacht-Master II, is the definitive Rolex sailing watch. The 60-minute bezel of the original Yacht-Master enables sailors to measure the distance between two points, and the optional Oysterflex rubber bracelet is a sleek alternative to Oystersteel, perfectly suited to conditions out at sea. Water-resistant to 100m, the Yacht-Master meets the needs of any casual diver, and most professionals.
The Yacht-Master II builds on the legacy of the Yacht-Master, and incorporates a regatta chronograph, designed specifically for yachting competitions. The regatta chronograph allows skippers to precisely time a race, and the striking blue bezel makes this watch sparkle like the ocean on a bright day.
Rolex’s relationship with yachting dates back to the middle of the twentieth century when they formed a relationship with the New York Yacht Club. Today, Rolex maintains relationships with many of the most prestigious yacht clubs and regattas in the world, and has sponsored a number of events including the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the Rolex Swan Cup, the Rolex Fastnet Race, and the Rolex TP52 World Championship. Browse Rolex Yacht-Master watches in stock now at Blowers.
2. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore
The iconic Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore was brought into existence by the renowned designer Gérald Genta. Its unmistakable design and distinctive nautical aesthetics have earned it numerous high-profile admirers in the world of sport, including the likes of Michael Schumacher, Shaquille O’Neal, and Sachin Tendulkar.
The 42mm case makes the Royal Oak Offshore feel substantial on the wrist, while chronograph functionality enables you to make vital measurements out at sea. The design is characterised by a ‘tapisserie’ dial, and the eight screws on the bezel, resembling the screws that hold an old-fashioned diver’s helmet to a diving suit.
The Royal Oak Offshore is the younger brother of the original Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. The Offshore model, released to mark the 20th anniversary of the original, came out in 1972. In the eyes of many, this watch represents the height of design in the world of sports watches – and we can see why. View our extensive range of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore watches.
3. OMEGA Seamaster
The Omega Seamaster stands as one of the all-time classic watches for those who enjoy the open water. First released in 1948, Seamaster watches are based on the watches used by the British military towards the end of WWII. Its self-winding movement offers convenience and reliability, while the rubber-O ring system provides water resistance to unimaginable depths.
While any Omega Seamaster will suit the needs of sailors, the brand has also created the Seamaster Planet Ocean, for the most daring of divers. Boasting water-resistance to an eye-watering 600m, the Seamaster Planet Ocean stands as a phenomenal technical feat from Omega.
For many, the appeal of the Seamaster is heightened by the fact that it has been the prefered watch of James Bond since 1995. A naval man and a diver as well as an SIS agent, it’s not hard to see why the Seamaster fits. Either way, it’s a watch with a serious reputation. And with Omega’s reputation for precision and accuracy, it’s not going to let you down, whatever the conditions out at sea. Browse Omega Seamaster watches in stock today.
4. Patek Philippe Aquanaut
The sporty and chic Patek Philippe Aquanaut took everyone by surprise when it was first released in 1997. Inspired by the Nautilus divers watch, the Aquanaut is Patek Philippe’s most athletic and modern looking watch, and its realisation represented a departure from the more traditional styling associated with the name of Patek Philippe.
While the Aquanaut does not feature chronometer functionality, it offers fantastic legibility. Its ‘Tropical’ strap, made of a new composite material, is ultra-resistant to wear, UV radiation, and salt water, making it an eminently sensible choice for the discerning sailor who demands durability. It’s water resistant to 120m, which is ample for any sailor, and more than sufficient for most divers.
The Aquanaut’s remarkable styling is surely the clincher. Featuring a rounded octagon case, screw down crown, and a sapphire crystal revealing the self-winding movement, its proportions are perfect. The case diameter measures in at a comfortable 40mm. Browse our current stock of Patek Philippe watches.
5. Panerai Luminor 1950
Officine Panerai boasts a long and illustrious history of manufacturing professional subaquatic timepieces. Producing the first military divers watch for the Royal Italian Navy in 1936, the Maison date their early history back to 1860, when Giovanni Panerai opened his first watch shop in Florence selling Swiss watches. The brand continues to offer the unbeatable combination of Italian style and Swiss horological expertise.
The Luminor 1950 takes its name from two places. Luminor refers to the patented luminescent material that lights up the numerals, hour markers, and hands to make it brilliantly legible underwater and at night. 1950 refers the year in which the brand adopted the 8-day Angelus movement, so that the watches no longer needed to be wound each day.
With its minimalistic dial and brilliantly clear display, the Luminor 1950 offers optimum legibility out at sea, and Carbotech casing provides water-resistance to 300m. Serious sailors may choose to pair the watch with a rubber or metal bracelet for maximum practicality. View Blowers’ current stock of Panerai Luminor 1950 watches online today.
Looking for a sailing watch that’s not mentioned here? Please get in touch and we will endeavour to source it for you.