When first becoming a yacht captain, an accurate timepiece becomes an essential tool to help you carry out daily tasks. Punctuality and precision are key when navigating the open seas.
Thankfully, watch manufacturers have been focusing on sailing watches for decades, in order to provide the best experience. These watches have evolved into elaborate devices boasting multiple functions that help keep you safe and informed while out on the water.
That said, considering the plethora of options available, making the right choice can be quite challenging.
For this reason, we decided to review 10 of the best sailing watches on the market. For each of the options on this list, we list their main features and give an overview of their pros and cons.
After reading this article, you will be able to choose the best sailing watch, based on your budget, requirements, and preferred style.
But first, let’s go over some of the features the best watches for sailors may encompass to help you be a more efficient seaman.
Table of contents
Features that qualify the best sailing watches
In the past, sailors had to use a wide variety of tools to access the most essential navigational metrics. Fortunately, most of these can today be consulted through a single timepiece. Below are some of the essentials that the best sailing watches should incorporate.
- Water-resistance - The working environment of a yacht captain makes this feature a no-brainer. Even if you don’t plan on going swimming with it, your timepiece will get in contact with water sooner or later. And in addition to the casing being waterproof, you should also look for corrosion-resistant components such as silicon or stainless steel.
- Chronometers - In addition to providing precise timing, a chronometer is an essential tool for calculating longitude.
- Countdown Timers - a prerequisite for any yacht or regatta captain that helps them countdown to the start of a race.
- Compass - an essential item on any boat, a compass remains a reliable navigation tool in case your electronic system malfunctions.
- Barometer - this tool shows the variations in air pressure and can help with predicting upcoming weather conditions and storms.
- Tide information - a crucial tool that can help you keep track of the ebb-and-flow of the ocean.
- Multiple time zones - a tool that helps captains remain punctual during longer expeditions when the vessel is crossing into different time zones.
- Specific use - The features of each watch make them ideal for certain situations. For example, you can buy sailing watches with gps to navigate the waters.
And finally, style shouldn’t be an afterthought. The best watches for sailing are an integral part of your daily wardrobe and are an important indicator of your taste and sophistication.
With all that said, we can finally delve into our list of the best sailing watches for 2021.
Best yachting watches
As you might be aware by now, there isn't a single best sailing watch that every boater should acquire. The plethora of available watches makes it interesting to look into the features of each option and determine which suits your needs best. And that's exactly what we will look at in the sections below. The following ocean sailing watches are some of the best performing and highly reviewed options.
Rolex Yacht-Master II
Making the first entry of our list is the inevitable Rolex Yachtmaster II series. Considered the ultimate regatta luxury watch, this is a superb timepiece that combines style with functionality.
The first thing that a keen eye will notice is that it conserves the very distinct “Rolex aesthetic”, which is an uncommon style for sailing watches. The watch comes with a perpetual self-winding movement, reputed for its precision.
Furthermore, the Yachtmaster II boasts a 10-minute countdown timer, a coveted feature by any regatta racer captain.
And while it can be considered quite pricey even by the company’s standards, this watch is a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. It’s built out of oystersteel, an extremely durable alloy manufactured by Rolex.
With additional scratch-resistant features and water resistance of up to 100 meters, we can easily consider it to be one of the best sailing watches available today.
Tag Heuer Aquaracer
The Swiss brand has created some of the best sailing watches available over the years. The Aquaracer comes in many shapes, although the style is conserved throughout the different models.
This watch offers an exact Swiss movement and sturdiness that remains water-resistant up to 300 meters. Most models come without any bells and whistles and offer the bare necessities of a sailing watch including date and counters for split seconds.
This simplicity might discourage some of those that are looking for an all-in-one instrument in their sailing watch. However, it allows this timepiece to conserve a timeless design, suitable for any occasion.
Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta
The Marine Regatta is an extremely precise watch created with regatta racers in mind.
This stunningly designed watch certainly stands out from the crowd thanks to the combination of the yellow hour markers with a marine dial. However, the real highlight of the timepiece is the perpetual precision movement and how its chronograph functions.
Where most watches require the captain to manually start the chronograph once the countdown ends, this feature is entirely automatic on the Regatta.
Add to this a 100 meters water resistance and more than 150 years of tradition and you have a worthy contender for the best sailing watches on the market.
Best watch for offshore sailing - Panerai Luminor Regatta 3 Days
Before it began making watches for civilians, Panerai was a military-held secret that created watches for the Italian Navy during WWII. As such, the Luminor Regatta is a classic diving watch that conserved some of the 1940s retro design and added some modern features to it.
Today, this wonderfully crafted timepiece is considered one of the prominent luxury sailing watches, offering a wide range of functions such as small seconds, chronograph flyback and a seconds reset. All of this is accessible through the signature lever-like commands.
Finally, made specifically for sailing, the Luminor Regatta offers 100 meters of water-resistance and an integrated regatta race countdown.
Omega Seamaster 300
This classic sailing watch from Omega comes in various styles and colors, which should accommodate even the pickiest of sailors. The one pictured above is the 007 edition, made famous in the James Bond films of the past couple of decades.
Quite affordable at this quality level, the Omega offers a perpetual movement with up to 300 meters of water resistance.
Extra features of this excellent timepiece include a COSC certified chronometer, co-axial escapement, and innate resistance to magnetic fields.
Tissot Sailing Touch
The most important function of this sporty watch is certainly its countdown function. It automatically turns into a racing chronograph once the countdown reaches zero. This allows the captain to focus on the race instead of having to fiddle with the watch at such a crucial moment.
Water-resistant to 100 meters, this watch also offers a compass, barometer, and tide indicator. As such, we think that it’s incredible value for the money, making it one of the best sailing watches for beginners.
TNG Classic Tornado
The TNG company is quite new on the market (since 1998) and has provided high-quality watches for sailors ever since. With that said, the Classic Tornado certainly deserves its name in style. Its simple design is suitable for use on any occasion, at sea, or in meetings with clients.
This timepiece has a fully automatic winding mechanism with a 42-hour power reserve and remains watertight up to 100 meters.
Regatta racers will also love this watch as it has an integrated (and beautiful) analog 5 or 10-minute countdown timer.
Timex Intelligent Quartz Yacht Racer
Another watch in the affordable category, the Timex Intelligent Quartz boasts tons of useful features, especially for racers.
As it can be seen at first glance from its style, this watch was built specifically with the sport in mind. While it isn’t meant to be worn in meetings, it certainly delivers on other levels.
It has a preprogrammed date function that doesn’t need adjusting for decades and offers three distinct countdown timers with a 5-second alarm to signal the start of the race.
With its extremely decent price tag, it’s a great entry-level watch for regatta racers and sea captains.
Best watch for ocean sailing - Corum Admiral's Cup Seafender Tides
Corum has been around since the 1950s and has regularly produced some of the best sailing watches on the planet ever since.
The Admiral Cup line was launched in the 1960s and has conserved its easily recognizable 12-sided bezel through the years. The most distinguishable feature of this watch is the are signal flags that make up the indices, conforming to the International Code of Signals (ICS).
Furthermore, this watch offers a tide indicator, complete with the lunar cycles showing the time and strength of the tides.
Best sailing smartwatch - Garmin Quatix 6
Our list wouldn’t be complete without the best smartwatch for boating. The price for the best ocean sailing watch easily goes to the new generation of Garmin sailing watches - the Quatix 6.
This smartwatch boasts all of the best flagship features one could hope for - activity tracking, oximeter, heart rate, accurate GPS, etc.
However, the high points of the Quatix 6 are the boating and navigational features. The watch can connect to compatible Garmin chartplotters, and can stream data such as sea depth and boat speed directly to hour wrist.
It can even act as an autopilot, allowing you to remotely control your boat by changing the heading or following a GPS route. The lack of a touchscreen is just a small hiccup in this feature-clad sailing watch.
Sailing watches review - Wrapping up
You now have a complete list with the best sailing watches of 2021. Considering the advantages the best sailing watches bring to seafarers, the initial investment is definitely worth the price. Hopefully, our list gave you a good idea of what to look for in a sailing watch and how to find the sweet spot between budget, style, and functionality.