15 Best Sailing Watches in 2023, from Affordable to Luxury

15 Best Sailing Watches in 2023, from Affordable to Luxury

Unlike dive watches, most of which share many common technical and aesthetic elements geared toward their intended underwater use, sailing watches and yachting watches are harder to define. Sailing watches range from a simple three-hander with a nautical design influence, one to wear while chilling on the deck of a cruise ship or at the yacht club, to a tool-oriented timepiece geared toward competitive regatta racing, with countdown functions, tides indicators, and other utilitarian features. In this feature, just in time for the closing weeks of summer sailing season, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites in every style, listed from eminently affordable and functional to luxurious and exclusive. 

Timex Intelligent Quartz Tides Watch

Timex Intelligent Quartz Tide Temp

Price: $136, Case Size: 45mm, Thickness: 13mm, Lug Width: 16mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Timex Intelligent Quartz Caliber

What mass-market Timex may lack in horological prestige, it makes up for in clever utility with its Intelligent Quartz Tide Temp Compass. What makes this watch’s quartz movement “smart?” Basically, it’s an open-ended tech platform that uses onboard sensors and microprocessors in the movement to drive individual functions on analog displays, providing an array of information from perpetual calendar to world clock to flyback chronograph to an array of nautical-navigation features, which include a tide tracker, compass, and thermometer. The compass incorporates an adjustable declination angle for superior accuracy, and thanks to the steel case’s 100-meter water resistance, the thermometer can be used to measure both air and water temperatures on an analog scale. Another scale counts down from high tide to low tide, while Timex’s proprietary IndiGlo night-light feature, which uses an electroluminescent panel to backlight the entire dial at the push of a button, makes nighttime navigation a breeze.

Bulova Marine Star Series A

Bulova Marine Star Series A Automatic

Price: $650, Case Size: 45mm, Lug Width: 24mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Miyota Caliber 82S5 

Bulova refers to its sporty Marine Star series as “nautically inspired,” and the latest version of its Series A automatic watch would look right at home on the deck of a ship on a summertime cruise. The watch’s hefty, strikingly angular stainless-steel case has brushed finishing with polished accents and secures its water resistance with a screw-down crown. The deep blue bezel is punctuated by six visible screws and frames an eye-catching, sunray-textured dial in the same color. The dial’s unconventional layout includes large, luminescent hands for the hour and minute, off-center seconds on an orange-accented subdial at 4 o’clock, and an “open heart” dial aperture that allows a glimpse of the watch’s inner workings, courtesy of the Japanese-made Miyota caliber, with 21 jewels and a 42-hour power reserve. The Marine Star is mounted on a matching silver-tone stainless steel bracelet with a push-button deployant clasp.

Frederique Constant Runabout

Frederique Constant Runabout

Price: $1,895, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 11.5mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber FC 303 (Sellita SW200 base)

Taking inspiration from the classical wooden “Runabout” motorboats built by Milanese boat designer Carlo Riva in the 1920s, Frederique Constant launched its Runabout collection of timepieces in 2009. The Genevan affordable-luxury watch brand began an ongoing partnership with Milan’s Riva Historical Society (RHS), whose mission is to preserve as many of the vintage Runabout boats as possible, and also became a sponsor of the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, one of the world’s most prestigious showcases of vintage wooden boats, in 2013. Released annually, the limited-edition timepieces in the Frederique Constant Runabout collection feature aesthetic details inspired by their namesake boats and a sapphire exhibition caseback etched with the RHS flag. Each Runabout is part of a collectible ensemble for sailing enthusiasts, packaged in a special gift box alongside a meticulously crafted replica boat. 

Rado Captain Cook Automatic Chronograph Bronze

Rado Captain Cook Automatic Bronze

Price: $4,750, Case Size: 43mm, Thickness: 14.8mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 300 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber R801 (ETA A31.211 base)

Named for a historical sea captain and boasting a crowd-pleasing, 1960s-vintage design language, Rado’s Captain Cook series of divers’ watches has become one of the Swiss brand’s leading collections. The family welcomed its first chronograph models in 2022, and while the classic dive-watch elements are still present in this well-received line extension, this model, with its navy blue dial, matching blue ceramic bezel, and 43mm case made of bronze (a metal historically used in shipbuilding), would find itself very much at home on the wrist of a yachtsman. The chronograph function of the watch’s movement, the ETA-based Rado Caliber R801, can even be pressed into service to help in the timing of a regatta race. The bronze case has a box-shaped sapphire crystal over the bicompax dial and fastens to a blue NATO strap with golden stripes that echo the case and the bronze-colored elements on the dial and bezel.

Corum Admiral 42 Automatic

Corum Admiral 42 Automatic

Price: $4,700, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 10.3mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Corum Caliber CO 395 (ETA 2894-2 base)

The first Admiral’s Cup regatta was run in 1957, and Corum — then a relatively young watch brand, founded in 1955 — supplied the official timepiece of the biennial yacht race three years later. The aptly named Admiral’s Cup watch became an iconic watch for sailing enthusiasts, cleverly deploying colorful nautical pennants, used for signaling during races, at the hour markers. The last Admiral’s Cup took place in 2003, but Corum has continued to update its 1960s classic and has since expanded the original model into a full-fledged collection simply called Admiral. Channeling the spirit of the original Admiral’s Cup most directly is this 42mm Automatic with the 12 pennant hour markers in full color, with openworked dauphine hands, three subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, and a tilted date window at 4:30. The screwed crown, nestled inside protective shoulders, helps ensure a seaworthy water resistance of 100 meters. The automatic movement inside, Caliber CO 395, is an ETA base caliber modified by Corum and offering a respectable 42-hour power reserve.

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Co-Axial Master Chronometer 41mm

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra

Price: $6,300, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 13.2mm, Lug to Lug: 47.9mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 150 meters, Movement: Automatic Omega Caliber 8900

A more understated sibling to Omega’s robust, over-engineered Seamaster Diver and Planet Ocean models, and to some extent harkening back to the original 1948 Seamaster gents’ watch, the Aqua Terra collection eschews the core models’ rotating divers’ bezels and other tool-watch accouterments for a more streamlined style — more suitable for steering a ship than for diving deep beneath one. The Aqua Terra dials are characterized by simple wedge-shaped hour markers inspired by the silhouette of a sailboat, a triangular hour hand paired with an arrow-tipped minute hand, and — as of the most recent revamp of the collection in 2017 — a textured line pattern on the dial that echoes the teakwood deck of a boat. This green-dialed timepiece’s 41mm stainless steel case houses Omega’s Master Chronometer Caliber 8900, which offers chronometric precision, a 60-hour power reserve, and a high degree of antimagnetic protection as it beats behind a clear sapphire caseback.

TAG Heuer Carrera Skipper

TAG Heuer Carrera Skipper

Price: $6,750, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 13.9mm, Lug to Lug: 46mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber TH20-06

TAG Heuer (then known only as Heuer) used its popular auto racing watch, the Carrera, as the base for the original Skipper, the company’s first modern sailor’s watch, in 1967. The newly released TAG Heuer Carrera Skipper adopts the vintage-look, bezel-less “glassbox” design of recent Carrera models for its modest, period-appropriate 39mm steel case. The circular-brushed blue dial hosts two sharply contrasting subdials, one at 9 o’clock — in a teal color inspired by the deck of the Intrepid, the yacht once sponsored by Heuer in the America’s Cup — to record 12 elapsed hours; the other at 3 o’clock for the all-important 15-minute countdown to the start of a regatta. The latter subdial is subdivided into three colorful sectors for each five-minute interval — Intrepid Teal, Lagoon Green, and vivid Regatta Orange for the final five minutes. The running seconds and a date window share the 6 o’clock position, both elements that were not present on the historical Skipper. The movement inside is TAG Heuer’s automatic TH20-06, a slightly modified version of the chronograph caliber inside the Carrera, and the navy-blue strap is made of water-resistant textile.

Breitling Exospace B55 YachtingBreitling Exospace B55 Sailing

Price: $7,350, Case Size: 46mm, Thickness: 15.2mm, Lug to Lug: 55.6mm, Lug Width: 24mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 150 meters, Movement: Breitling SuperQuartz Caliber B55

While it is best known for its pilot’s watches, Breitling has broadened its collection to encompass “land, sea, and air” in recent years, and the brand’s most high-tech, utilitarian models for the sea is the Exospace B55 Yachting, a Bluetooth-enabled, device-connected watch for sailors. Powered by Breitling’s thermocompensated, ultra-accurate SuperQuartz movement, the analog-digital watch is chock full of built-in tools for regatta competitors and other nautical professionals, including a chronograph with split times, countdown timers that can be easily reset and re-synched, and alarms with both audible and visible notifications. Racing data and other info can be stored in the model’s memory and displayed on both the digital screen and on that of a connected smartphone. The notched, unidirectional compass bezel on the 46mm titanium case can be used to calculate useful nautical indicators like wind directions, sailing angles, and optimal starting-line positioning.

Panerai Luminor Due Luna Rossa

Panerai Luminor Due Luna Rossa

Price: $7,800, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 10.5mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber P.900

Panerai became the official sponsor of Italy’s Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli sailing team in 2019, and has been making specially branded timepieces in collaboration with the America’s Cup contender ever since, the latest launching in 2023 at Watches & Wonders Geneva. Highlighting the most recent Luna Rossa series is this 42mm model from Panerai’s Luminor Due collection, whose cushion-shaped cases are designed to be thinner and more wearable than the original, bulkier Luminor cases made back in the 1950s for Italian naval commandos.  Its white sandwich-style dial (a Panerai signature) features the Panerai logo at 12 and a Luna Rossa inscription at 6 o’clock, along with numerals and indexes in gray Super-LumiNova, a red-detailed small seconds sundial at 9 o’clock and date display at 3 o’clock. The bimaterial strap in “Luna Rossa gray” combines rubber and textile and features a red stripe with a Luna Rossa logo. The case has the patented crown-protection bridge on the right side and contains the in-house automatic Caliber P.900, endowed with a three-day power reserve.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master Titanium

Rolex Yacht-Master Titanium

Price: $14,050, Case Size: 42mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Rolex Caliber 3235

After seducing scuba divers with its robust Submariner dive watch in 1953, Rolex released the more luxurious Yacht-Master in 1992 as a timepiece for sailors and pleasure cruisers, and has been building it as a distinct collection of its own ever since. The newest Yacht-Master, launched in 2023, is the first version of Rolex’s nautical icon with a case made of RLX titanium, a strong, corrosion-resistant, and very lightweight alloy, with a technical satin finish that lends it an intriguing, grained texture. The case, milled from a monobloc, also boasts high-sheen and polished finishing on its other facets. The dial is in Rolex’s “intense” black and sports its own intriguing grained texture. The bracelet is made of titanium as well, with ceramic inserts, and is fitted with Rolex’s Easylink extension system for wearing comfort. Inside the watch is an in-house movement with COSC chronometer certification, Rolex Caliber 3235, packing a 72-hour power reserve and all the patented technology that Rolex fans have come to expect and demand.

Ulysse Nardin Ocean Race Diver Chronograph

Ulysse Nardin Ocean Race Diver Chronograph

Price: $15,700, Case Size: 44mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 300 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber UN-150

A watch maison whose very name conjures up romantic images of seagoing adventure and oceanic exploration, Ulysse Nardin, founded in 1846, carved out its place in Swiss watch history as a revered maker of marine chronometers for many of the world’s navies in the 19th and 20th centuries. Long regarded as the “standard bearer of nautical timekeeping,” Ulysse Nardin is today the timekeeping partner of the Ocean Race, a grueling, worldwide sailing race established in 1973, as well as the Newport, Rhode Island-based 11th Hour racing team that competes in the race. In honor of the event’s 50th anniversary in 2023, Ulysse Nardin released this 100-piece limited edition of its sporty Diver Chronograph in a 44mm case made of sandblasted black DLC titanium and a ratcheting bezel made of Carbonium, UN’s proprietary carbon-based material with a distinctive wavy pattern. Oceanic blue details such as the chronograph hands and hour markers drive home the theme, the same blue used in the Ocean Race logo on the black ceramic element connecting the water-resistant rubber strap to the case. The special 50th-anniversary logo also appears on the caseback, whose sapphire exhibition window offers a view of the self-winding UN-150 caliber, boasting a 48-hour power reserve.

Breguet Marine 5517 Breguet Marine 5517

Price: $18,300, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 11.5mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Breguet Caliber 777A

Breguet’s Marine collection, which was revamped in a big way in 2018, pays tribute to the marine chronometers made for the Royal French Navy by the watchmaking manufacture’s founder and namesake, Abraham-Louis Breguet. Combining a sporty aesthetic with Breguet’s legendary luxurious detailing, the three-handed Marine 5517 is one of the few models in a meticulously finished titanium case, with a bracelet designed to continue its smooth lines and caress the curves of the wrist. The 40mm case, with its fluted sides, sculpted lugs, and fluted flanks is enhanced with alternating polished and satin-glossed facets, a luxurious motif continued on the titanium bracelet. The watch’s engine-turned dial sports a crested-wave pattern that adds a hint of nautical flair and features applied Roman hour numerals with luminous five-minute markers. The moon-tipped hands are faceted and polished. Even the movement, Breguet’s automatic Caliber 777A, boasts seafaring visual motifs, like the côtes de Genève texture on the bridges inspired by a ship’s wooden deck, and the rotor shaped like a ship’s steering wheel. 

IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Moon and Tides

IWC Portugieser Moon & Tides

Price: $34,100, Case Size: 44.6mm, Thickness: 13.4mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 60 meters, Movement: Automatic IWC Caliber 82835

IWC’s elegant Portugieser collection was originally created at the behest of a Portuguese client (hence the name) in 1939, and the Schaffhausen brand launched the sportier, maritime-focused Yacht Club models in 1967. In 2010, the Yacht Club was revamped as part of the Portugieser family, and the recently released Moon and Tides edition, one of the few Yacht Club models in a gold case, speaks directly to yachting enthusiasts and racers with its on-theme tides display function, powered by the  in-house, automatic Caliber 82835. Its utilitarian features include the subdial at 6 o’clock on the bright navy-blue dial, which indicates the expected times for the next high and low tides, and a double moon-phase display at 12 o’clock, which shows spring and neap tides as well as information about the strength of the current tides. The movement, with its specially developed tides module, beats behind a sapphire caseback and incorporates IWC’s Pellaton winding system, which uses high-tech ceramic components and stores a 68-hour power reserve. The watch is mounted on a blue textile strap that echoes the maritime colors of the dial.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas

Vacheron Constantin Overseas

Price: $54,500, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 11mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 150 meters, Movement: Automatic Vacheron Constantin Caliber 5100

Tracing its aesthetic roots to a fondly remembered sport-luxury watch that Vacheron Constantin released in the 1970s — the 222, recently resurrected in a Historiques Edition — the sailing-inspired Overseas has become a versatile and popular cornerstone of the brand’s current lineup. The most recent revamp in 2016 brought the core Self-Winding model’s overall dimensions to a slightly more restrained level — 41 mm, down from 42 mm, and a relatively slender 11mm thick. The watch’s six-sided bezel takes its cues from Vacheron’s Maltese cross emblem, as does the 18k rose-gold bracelet, and in keeping with the modern identity of the Overseas, the bracelet can be easily interchanged with a blue alligator leather or blue textured rubber strap also provided by the brand. Beating behind the sapphire exhibition caseback is the movement, the in-house automatic Caliber 5100, whose visual signature is the 22k gold rotor which is decorated with a nautical instrument called a wind rose.

Harry Winston Ocean Collection Project Z15

Harry Winston Ocean Collection Project Z15Price: On request, Case Size: 42.2mm, Thickness: 10.7mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber HW3207

Jeweler/watchmaker Harry Winston tends to aim for the very high-end consumer in even its sportiest timepieces, most of which reside within the sailing-inspired Ocean collection. The signature feature of the Project Z15 model, unveiled in 2021, is its regulator-style dial, with separate hands and scales for the hours and minutes. Its design is based on that of 18th-century pendulum clocks that regulated portable timepieces like the chronometers and pocket watches worn on seafaring missions, The “Z” in the model name is for Zalium, the proprietary zirconium-based material that Harry Winston uses for the 42.2mm satin-brushed case. The crown guard takes its cues from the arches of the famous Harry Winston boutique in New York City; the shapes on the openworked dials reference the silhouettes of New York skyscrapers and suspension bridges; and the blue used in the dial details, and the stripe on the textile-effect black rubber strap, has a dual aesthetic symbolism, calling to mind both the oceans of the watch’s name and the legendary blue Hope Diamond that made Winston’s name as a jeweler. The self-winding haute horlogerie Caliber HW3207 beats behind the sapphire caseback of this 300-piece limited edition. 

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