These specially made watches will count down and display the time until the start of the race.
With the America’s Cup underway in Bermuda, we’ve gathered the four newest yacht timers currently found on the wrists of many of the sailors there.
The yacht timer has long been a niche countdown complication made by a few manufacturers over the decades. Among the best known is of course the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht Master, though many other brands have offered a mechanical yacht timer in recent years, primarily as a result of a tie-in to a nautical competition. We’ve seen, for example, brands like Corum, Alpina, Louis Vuitton, Maurice Lacroix and TAG Heuer with such timers in past years.
While a chronograph can substitute to count down the start of a race, a specially made countdown watch like one of these yacht timers creates a more visible wrist display for the both skipper and crew. The start of the race is critical, and each boat needs to position itself as close as possible to the starting line when they hear the blare of the starting cannon. These timers will alert the wearer of each minute leading up to that critical starting moment.
Below are yacht timers from four watchmakers with direct connections to sailors currently plying the seas in Bermuda.
The newest of the mechanical yacht timers currently racing in Bermuda, this 44mm steel watch has been developed with the advice of yachtsmen Loïck Peyron and Iain Percy, both Ulysse Nardin brand ambassadors and members of the Artemis Racing team. The watch features a patented sweep countdown timer that can be set from 1 to 10 minutes. Following the countdown, the unusual bi-directional seconds hand starts moving in a clockwise direction and begins timing the race itself.
The regatta feature, located at the center of the dial, displays the countdown with an arrow pointing at the yellow minute scale from 0 to 10. This hand can be set with a pusher located at the 10 o’clock position and moves in a counterclockwise direction. At the same time, the two-way seconds hand of the chronograph counts the seconds in a counterclockwise direction until the countdown comes to an end. When the countdown reaches zero to signal the start of the race, the seconds hand instantly starts moving in the clockwise direction and begins timing the race, measured by an hours and minutes subdial at the 6 o’clock position.
Ulysse Nardin makes two variations (with a blue or a white dial) and a special 35-piece limited edition model featuring the colors of the Swedish team (with a Champlevé dial). Prices: Blue dial & white lacquered dial: $15,900. Limited edition Champlevé enamel dial: $29,800
Speedmaster X-33 Regatta ETNZ Limited Edition
As a main partner to Emirates Team New Zealand, Omega has equipped each member of the crew with this new watch, which is limited to 2,017 pieces. The Speedmaster X-33’s Regatta function keeps track of the critical countdown and race time with its own distinct ringing sequence. (The Speedmaster X-33 Regatta is one of two watches made in support of the Kiwi crew. Omega also created the Seamaster Planet Ocean ETNZ Deep Black.) Analog functions include hours, minutes and seconds, as well as a racing countdown. Digital functions show three different time zones, chronograph, timer, calendar indication, two alarms and perpetual calendar.
Cased in grade 2 titanium, the analog-digital watch has a black dial with blue rings and white transferred markings, as well as cut outs for digital readings. The bezel ring is a ceramic/titanium mix and features stars at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions, a design meant to recall the New Zealand flag. The caseback is stamped with an Emirates Team New Zealand logo and engraved with the words "Challenger for the 35th America’s Cup” and the limited edition number. The watch is presented on a black-coated nylon fabric strap with blue rubber lining and blue stitching. Price: $5,900.
PAM726 Luminor Marina 1950’s Titanium Chrono Regatta Flyback Team Oracle
This new 47mm titanium watch features markers that allow the user to countdown the fifteen minutes until the start of a race. Pressing the push-piece at 10 o’clock starts the chronograph: the chronograph hands then begin moving, first indicating the minutes and seconds remaining until the start and, once the countdown is finished, recording the time elapsed from the start of the race.
Panerai developed the P.9100/R movement several years ago, and the caliber remains one of the manufacturer’s most complex non-limited movements. Panerai explains that the device that enables the minute hand to be moved backwards during the countdown is controlled, like the whole chronograph, by the column wheel. To match the five Panerai America’s Cup watches, the straps on this piece will also utilize untreated leather that has been personalized with the America’s Cup Logo, heat embossed and features blue and red accent stitching.
With Bremont’s third regatta movement, this latest model will be made in a limited edition of edition of 135 pieces. The watch is a chronograph with regatta 15-minute countdown function disk and an integrated internally rotating bezel for added timing functions. Bremont notes that it specially hardens the steel in its watches to make cases to a hardness of 2000 Vickers, seven times that of average steel watch cases. Price: $6,495.