Best chronograph watches buying guide: The ultimate stopwatches for sailors

From luxury brands like Ulysse Nardin and Omega to entry-level models by Spinnaker or Timex, all the best chronograph watches offer a stopwatch function for sailors while on board – particularly handy when it comes to regatta timing…

There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to the best sailing watches, with timepieces designed in all different styles and with various features to best suit the wearer. But for regatta racers and serious sailors, a chronograph watch makes the best companion on board.

The function was first invented by French horologist Louis Moinet in 1816 to track the movement of stars across the night skies and was popularised in 1821 when Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec was commissioned to create a chronograph clock for King Louis XVIII to time horse races.

Derived from the Greek words for “time” and “to write”, these intricately constructed timepieces are designed with what is essentially a stopwatch function alongside a regular display. Buttons – typically located by the hours of two and four on the clockface – are used to stop, start and reset the timer, which uses an independent sweep second hand for measurements.

The best chronograph watches will also frequently feature a telemeter or tachymeter complication, allowing the wearer to calculate the speed that they are travelling at over a certain distance of nautical knots. As well as proving useful to sailors, they often seen on the wrists of pilots, racing car drivers, astronauts and military personnel.

A chronograph watch is therefore the ultimate gadget for sailors at sea looking for a range of functions that can track their progress all in one place – and still look good while doing it (if you’re not a fan of more futuristic digital sailing watches, that is).

9 of the best chronograph watches for sailors

Timex Waterbury Traditional Chronograph

Best value chronograph watch

Inspired by the traditional look of its predecessor – the Waterbury Clock Company founded in Connecticut in 1854 – the Waterbury model by American brand Timex features a chronograph complication measuring to 1/20th of a second and a date feature as well.

The stainless steel case measures 42mm and has a globe design engraved on the back, while the watch face is finished in a watery blue hue and complemented by a quick-release leather strap.

Reasons to buy

– Affordable
– Vintage look

Reasons to avoid

– Only resistant to 10 bar
– Leather strap less durable at sea – will need more frequent replacing

Buy now from Amazon

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Spinnaker Hull Chronograph Lapis

Marine watch brand Spinnaker has produced a number of decent sailing-focused timepieces, but for a classic chronograph model, opt for the vintage-inspired 42mm Hull Chronograph.

Produced in Hong Kong with Japanese technology providing precision movement, this model is also equipped with a tachymeter feature and is available in a range of different colours (though the Lapis blue is one of the bestsellers).

Reasons to buy

– Affordable
– Tachymeter function

Reasons to avoid

– Only resistant to 10 bar
– Leather strap

Buy now from Amazon

Tissot Seastar 1000 Quartz Chronograph

While still considered a luxury brand, Tissot’s Seastar 1000 Quartz Chronograph model is considerably more affordable while still providing a variety of chronograph functions necessary for sailors.

Water resistant to 30 bar, this dive-capable timepiece features a central 60-second chronograph hand, as well as 30 minutes and 1/10 of a second counters, with extra ADD and SPLIT functions for a range of complex features in one watch.

The stainless steel face is designed with luminous numerals and can be paired with sportswear-suitable rubber or metal straps with a divers’ “safety buckle”. At 45.5mm, this Tissot is on the larger side, which could be a pro or a con depending on personal taste.

Reasons to buy

– Affordable
– Luminous numerals
– Water resistant to 30 bar

Reasons to avoid

– Larger size

Buy now from Jura Watches

Tag Heuer Formula 1

Tag Heuer watches may be designed for those who like to hit high speeds behind the wheel rather than under sail, but the brand is well-renowned for being favoured by sporty types, both amateur and professional.

The Formula 1 model offers a variety of colours and straps to suit your taste, each one equipped with a quartz chronograph complication (for timing seconds and 30 minutes) and a tachymeter function as well.

This 43mm watch is built to withstand the pressures of motor car racing and certain models feature luminous numerals as well.

Reasons to buy

– Tachymeter function
– Luminous numerals
– Some variations of the model are more affordable

Reasons to avoid

– Only water resistant to 200 metres

Buy now from Jura Watches

Longines Hydroconquest

A Longines chronograph watch is a traditional choice, paying tribute to the Swiss brand’s heritage as the first producer of a wrist-worn chronograph watch in 1913.

The Hydroconquest is actually a dive watch, and is therefore the most water-resistant of the brand’s chronograph collection, making it perfect for wearing at sea.

It comes in three colour variations (silver, blue, black) and is available as 43mm or 40mm size with either a rubber or stainless steel strap.

The watch features a column wheel chronograph and has a central 60 seconds hand, a 30 minutes counter at 3 o’clock and a 12 hours counter at 6 o’clock.

Reasons to buy

– 30 bar water resistance
– Different sizes to chose from

Reasons to avoid

– Lack of other complications besides classic chronograph
– More expensive

Buy now from Jura Watches

Omega Speedmaster X-33 Regatta ETNZ Limited Edition

Best chronograph watch for America’s Cup fans

Omega has revamped its Speedmaster X-33 Regatta Chronograph with a limited Emirates Team New Zealand model in collaboration with the world’s oldest and greatest sailing race, the America’s Cup.

This grade 2 titanium-cased model is perhaps the most nuanced chronograph designed with regatta racers in mind. A run of 2,017 timepieces has been made for the series, each one finished with a Professional Regatta Function offering a countdown timer to start and count up for racing.

This advanced watch also features a logbook complication that allows two races to be timed with 10 buoy recordings each. Other features accompanying the watch include a traditional chronograph function, a calendar indication, two different alarms and a perpetual calendar.

The model is reportedly intricate to operate, but that’s because it provides seriously advanced functions despite maintaining a traditional look.

Reasons to buy

– Limited edition America’s Cup theme
– Advanced regatta timing complications

Reasons to avoid

– Nylon fabric strap will need more frequent replacing than metal or rubber
– Time-consuming to first set up
– Expensive

Buy now from Omega

Ulysse Nardin Diver x The Ocean Race

The official timing partner of The Ocean Race, Ulysse Nardin is a well-known nautical watch brand. The Swiss watchmaker released the 44mm Diver X The Ocean Race model to celebrate its partnership with the iconic round-the-world sailing regatta, producing a chronograph dive watch limited to just 200 pieces.

What’s particularly unique about the design of this wristwatch is that the case and strap are made from recycled fishing nets, cementing the company’s commitment to protecting the oceans.

The masculine design is complemented by bold green accents which are meant to signify the brand’s commitment to preserving nature.

Reasons to buy

– Water resistant to 300 metres
– Made from recycled materials
– Limited edition

Reasons to avoid

– Lack of other complications besides classic chronograph
– Expensive

Buy now from Ulysse Nardin

Panerai Luminor Yachts Challenge

The Luminor Yachts Challenge model by Florentine watchmaker Panerai celebrates the brand’s longstanding tradition of supplying precision instruments to the Royal Italian Navy.

A chronograph watch that will appeal to wearers with a more traditional style, this model has a classic-looking face paired with a brown suede strap.

The 44mm hypoallergenic brushed-steel timepiece features a flyback chronograph complication, with the chronograph counter at 3 o’clock and small seconds at 9 o’clock plus a central chronograph with seconds and minute hands.

 Reasons to buy

– Classic, elegant look
– Luminous numerals
– Made with hypoallergenic steel

Reasons to avoid

– Only water resistant to 10 bar
– Suede strap less durable at sea
– Very expensive

Buy now from Panerai

Breguet Type XXII

Breguet is another excellent choice for watch wearers with a fascination for history; Abraham-Louis Breguet, the French founder of the Swiss brand, was responsible for finessing chronograph technology in the 1800s as the royally-appointed marine chronometer-maker for the French Royal Navy.

Sticking to tradition, the 44mm Breguet Type XXII is a self-winding rather than an automatic watch, but it features a flyback chronograph complication with seconds hands on a 30-second basis at the centre and a half-minute totalizer at the centre.

Additionally, the model is also equipped with a 24-hour indicator and a second-time zone indicator that will come in handy for sailors voyaging through the lines of longitude on longer passages.

Reasons to buy

– Second time zone indicator
– Luminous numerals

Reasons to avoid

– Only water resistant to 10 bar
– Self-winding
– Very expensive

Buy now from Amazon

Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated sailing page for more marine products.

The post Best chronograph watches buying guide: The ultimate stopwatches for sailors appeared first on Yachting World.

 

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