Dive watches, pilot’s watches, automotive-inspired watches, traveller’s watches… These might well be the categories of watches we most often cover on MONOCHROME. There’s one style of watch, inspired by the antique concept of the Marine Chronometer, that is somehow a bit more niche, but nevertheless often comes with a cool, summery elegance; the nautical-inspired watch. Meant to look good on land or on the deck of a boat, and in time for yachting or sailing season, we’ve decided to take a closer look at some of the best nautical-inspired watches available now on the market.
The Breguet Marine Hora Mundi 5557
The Marine collection is all about the exploration of the seas – well, considering its positioning now, it’s more about the exploration of the yacht-club. Nevertheless, it is directly inspired by the past of the brand – when A.L. Breguet was Chronometer-maker to the French Royal Navy – and is the brand’s vision of a sporty-chic watch, with more robust case and comfortable water-resistance (100m). This year, Breguet adds the Hora Mundi 5557 to the collection, for those who intend to cross time zones by sailing the oceans. The watch retains the original, bold design of the collection and adds a complex movement with instant time zone jump and mechanical memory – for more details, check our review here. With its blue guilloche dial and world map, it has everything a modern explorer needs (yes, one that will explore the world in a yacht, and with a skipper…)
Quick facts: 43.9mm white or pink gold case – sapphire crystals – screw-down crown, 100m water-resistant – multi-layer dial in guilloche blue – calibre 77F1, in-house, automatic, patented modules for instant time zone jump and mechanical memory, 4Hz, 55h power reserve – leather strap, rubber strap or gold bracelet – from EUR 74,400
The Frederique Constant Runabout Chronograph
With the Runabout collection, Frederique Constant pays tribute to the seas and offers a cool, fairly priced expression of a nautical-inspired watch. This watch is the result of the collaboration with the RHS (Riva Historical Society), an association of amateurs and collectors of the famous Italian boat. The result is this nicely designed chronograph, with a mix of nautical colours and restrained casual elegance. Available in steel or gold-plated steel, it comes with a sporty-chic navy blue dial enlivened by a stamped clous de Paris pattern. Under the sapphire caseback is a very decent movement, the new column-wheel chronograph of La Joux-Perret. And yet, the price remains way below the 3K mark.
Quick facts: 42mm steel case, option of rose gold-plated – sapphire crystal – 50m water-resistant – Navy blue dial with stamped “clous de Paris” pattern – Calibre FC-392 (base LJP), column-wheel chronograph, 4Hz, 55H power reserve – Navy blue calf leather strap – limited to 888 pieces – from EUR 2,695
The IWC Portugieser Automatic 40
It would be hard to talk about nautical-inspired watches without mentioning the IWC Portugieser… The emblematic collection of the Schaffhausen-based brand has indeed been developed in 1939 following the request of two Portuguese merchants (named Rodrigues and Teixeira), who wanted to have the precision of IWC’s deck clocks but to be worn on the wrists while sailing. And there you have the most adequate watch possible… We could have listed all models in the collection here, including the recently revised Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph, but we chose to go the most versatile, the Automatic 40 on a steel bracelet. Relatively compact, minimalistic yet full of charm, and now worn on a practical steel bracelet, it’s to us one of the best models to choose from. And of course, it has to be the version with a silver dial and blue accents. Inside the case (unfortunately only 30m water-resistant) is the in-house, Pellaton-wound Calibre 82200. You can hardly do better than this watch to be anywhere near the harbour…
Quick Facts: 40.4mm steel case – sapphire crystals – 30m water-resistant – silver-white matte dial with blue accents – IWC Calibre 82200, automatic time-only, 4Hz, 60h power reserve – steel bracelet with folding clasp – EUR 8,100
The Rolex Yacht-Master 42
Here again, the name says it all. While this watch could almost appear to be yet another edition of the brand’s dive watch, it’s actually a slightly different, more luxurious take on the emblematic design of the brand. Redefined in 2019 with a larger case and different proportions, it further emancipates from the Submariner connection to become different, more casual, and more high-end too. The latest version, made out of 18k yellow gold, has the right vibe, playing on contrasts between the shiny metal and the matte, dark style of the bezel. The fact that it’s worn on the brilliant Oysterflex bracelet makes it comfortable and sporty-chic, just enough to it’ll be at its place on land and at sea. Inside, no surprise, you’ll find the precise and robust in-house calibre 3235. The main problem remains the availability, though. And it’s not cheap either.
Quick facts: 42mm yellow gold case – sapphire crystal – screw-down crown, 100m water-resistant – matte black dial with yellow gold accents – Calibre Rolex 3235, automatic chronometer, 4Hz, 70h power reserve – Oysterflex rubber bracelet with folding clasp – EUR 26,700
Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Moonphase
Last but not least, another watch that was somehow mandatory in this selection, made by the brand that used to be once kind of seas, and the most famous maker of marine chronometers, the Ulysse Nardin Marine. There are many models that could have made it to this selection, but the best of the range is the recent Marine Torpilleur Moonphase. Why? Because it retains a classic look and case, because it’s made of steel and because in addition to the signature display with small seconds and power reserve, you’ll find an elegant moon phase display, a first for the collection, but still a perfectly fitting complication, considering the Moon played a significant part in astral navigation. Inside the 42mm case is an in-house movement, chronometer-rated and equipped with a silicon hairspring and a Diamonsil escapement and anchor.
Quick facts: 42mm steel case – sapphire crystals – 50m water-resistant – white varnished dial (also available in blue) – calibre UN-119, automatic moonphase chronometer, 4Hz, 60h power reserve – alligator leather strap with folding clasp – limited to 300 pieces (per colour) – EUR 9,200