The idea of getting a watch for summer often goes down to sourcing a dive watch… It’s the easy solution. Robust, cool, suitable for underwater adventures, sporty and not too flashy (not always), a dive watch will do the job. Even better if you combine it with a GMT complication, practical if you ever cross time zones. But, it can also sometimes be too focused, or too instrumental. If you’re about to embark on a trip onboard a boat this summer, while also planning stopovers in nice seaside places, you might want something a bit more elegant. This is the mission of the so-called nautical watch, also known as skipper or regatta, and we’ve listed 5 that will surely fulfil the job.
Breguet Marine Alarme Musicale 5547 Titanium
While also available in rose or white gold, the classy and complex Marine Alarme Musicale 5547 can be chosen in an undeniable nautical-inspired combination of titanium with a blue dial. Robust enough, yet elegant and finished as a Breguet should be, it pays tribute to the times when Abraham-Louis Breguet was also appointed official chronometer-maker to the French Royal Navy. Revisited in 2018, the Breguet Marine is a distinctive, almost polarizing watch that, nevertheless, has its own charm. Also available with a time-and-date or chronograph function, the Alarme Musicale model has something unique in its function and display, which also includes a dual-time mechanism. Housed in a 40mm brushed and polished grade 5 titanium case, it is water-resistant to 50m (less than the rest of the collection, due to the alarm). It is powered by the handsome in-house automatic calibre 519F/1. And the new combination with a blue dial surely makes it more desirable than the first grey edition.
Quick facts: 40mm x 13.05mm – titanium, brushed and polished, fluted caseband – 50m water-resistant – calibre 519F/1, in-house, mechanical alarm and GMT, 4Hz frequency, 45h power reserve – multiple straps or bracelet available – reference 5547 – from EUR 32,100
IWC IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Orlebar Brown
It’s hard to think about a watch that could better describe the concept of nautical timepiece. The IWC Portugieser was created for that exact mission in the 1930s, following the request of two Portuguese merchants (named Rodrigues and Teixeira), who wanted the precision of IWC’s deck clocks in wristwatch format for sailing. The comeback of this collection during the mid-1990s respected the original concept and has since been one of the best examples of a watch for sailing. And while the classic Portugieser Chronograph could be seen as a bit too delicate for sailing, the Portugieser Yacht Club is, without a doubt, a watch that can handle a bit of action. Available in multiple standard editions, the Orlebar Brown model you can see here stands out with a cool blue and white colour scheme, and a textile strap for a cool, casual look. Inside is a powerful in-house chronograph movement, with a flyback function. You’ll just have to keep in mind that it’s a large watch, close to 45mm in diameter.
Quick facts: 44.6mm x 14.4mm – stainless steel case, brushed and polished – 60m water-resistant – calibre 83691, in-house, integrated automatic chronograph with column-wheel, 4Hz frequency, 68h power reserve – blue rubber strap with textile inlay – reference IW390704 – EUR 13,000
Rolex Yacht-Master 42 Yellow Gold
We could have chosen the new Titanium RLX Rolex Yacht-Master 42 for this buying guide, but instead, we’ve decided to go for the highly attractive yellow gold version. Why? First, the titanium model isn’t yet available in boutiques. Second, it is far more sporty and rugged, while the YG model, with its Oysterflex bracelet, feels like a perfect blend of luxury and robustness. The combination of a warm alloy with the matte black bezel, the black dial and the black rubber strap is striking and elegant, with just enough sheen to bring a bit of flex… But despite its luxury, the YM42 is a true Rolex, made with highly resistant materials and retaining a comfortable 100m water-resistance. The Oysterflex bracelet has to be one of the most comfortable rubber straps around and allows you to wear this heavy and large piece in aquatic environments too. Inside is the calibre 3235 with all the precision you can expect from a Rolex. Handsome, but not cheap.
Quick facts: 42mm x 11.6mm – 18k yellow gold case, polished, bidirectional black ceramic bezel – 100m water-resistant – glossy black dial – calibre 3235, Superlative Chronometer, automatic, 4Hz frequency, 70h power reserve – Oysterflex bracelet – reference 226658 – EUR 28,900
TAG Heuer Carrera Skipper
A modernized take on a rare edition of the cult Carrera, dedicated to regatta… This new version of the classic Carrera, which has just been presented, had to be listed here. First of all, it is dedicated to the nautical world, with a dial that allows counting down the start of a sailing competition – the 15-minute, tri-colour counter at 3 o’clock is made just for that. Second, with its blue dial, highly original bezel-less construction, relatively compact case and colourful accents, it might well be the coolest modern Carrera around (even if you don’t sail). Visually light and fun, it remains nevertheless a serious chronograph, with in-house automatic movement inside and robust construction. Worn on a textile blue strap, it really exudes a strong summer vibe.
Quick facts: 39mm x 13.9mm – stainless steel case, polished and brushed, bezel-less construction – 100m water-resistant – in-house calibre TH20-06, automatic integrated column-wheel chronograph, 4Hz frequency, 80h power reserve – blue textile strap – reference CBS2213.FN6002 – EUR 6,850
New Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase
Last but not least, and possibly the most purpose-built nautical watch… We had to list a Ulysse Nardin Marine in this selection. Directly modelled after marine deck chronometers, something that used to be a speciality of Ulysse Nardin for decades. Now transformed into a wristwatch, the display and design of the dial recall what used to be found in antique marine clocks, with the classic, elongated Roman numerals, power reserve at 12 o’clock and small seconds at 6 o’clock. A chronometer-certified watch, the present model was the first in the collection to include a moonphase indication, something that makes a lot of sense knowing that marine navigation used to rely on the position of celestial bodies. Elegant and instantly recognizable, this white-and-blue version is elegant and discreet, despite having a slightly oversized case of 42mm.
Quick facts: 42mm x 11.1mm – stainless steel case with fluted bezel – 50m water-resistant – in-house calibre UN-119, chronometer rated, automatic, 4Hz frequency, 60h power reserve – blue alligator strap – reference 1193-310LE-0A-175/1A, limited to 300 pieces – EUR 10,900