Frederique Constant’s Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown features a complication that indicates the time remaining before the start of a sailing regatta. Introduced in 1997 in a quartz version, the regatta countdown staged its reappearance in Frederique Constant’s line-up in 2019 with a mechanical heart. Essentially a reverse chronograph, the 10-minute countdown display relies on five round apertures that change colour from grey to white and from white to orange. True to the brand’s philosophy of affordable luxury, Frederique Constant’s take on the luxury sports watch retails for under EUR 4,000 and comes with a handsome dark anthracite dial and an integrated steel bracelet. This is not the first time the Yacht Timer is fitted with an integrated steel bracelet; there is currently another model in the collection with an integrated bracelet, but it is a flashier two-tone steel and gold-plated reference.
A regatta countdown timer reveals the critical time remaining before the start of a boat race, which can vary anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. A regatta race is preceded by audible and visual signs to alert skippers to get themselves positioned as close to the imaginary starting line as possible. Manoeuvring a boat at sea and dealing with erratic wind and waves is not quite like a runner on blocks waiting for the signal. Yachts tack back and forth, and a countdown period lets them manoeuvre to the best position being very careful not to cross the imaginary starting line. For those of you familiar with the sport, the initial positioning is extremely strategic and nerve-wracking.
The Frederique Constant Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown features a built-in timer for a 10-minute countdown displayed in five apertures in the top half of the dial. The layout of the FC model is very similar to the colour-coded display of famous regatta calibre 1345 made by Lemania for Aquastar in the early 1970s. A pusher on the side of the case activates the countdown in two steps: the first 5-minute countdown changes the colour of the dots from grey to white; the second countdown, indicating the final five minutes, kicks in automatically and the dots change to orange; when the fifth and final dot has turned orange and the seconds hand is aligned at 12 o’clock, the regatta is officially underway.
Case, dial and bracelet
The three-part steel case has a solid sports watch diameter of 42mm and is decorated with polished and brushed surfaces. Although the overall impact of the watch is dressier than you would expect for a regatta watch, the incorporation of an integrated steel bracelet helps accentuate its sporty aspirations. The lugs are tapered and curved, the caseback is open and the water-resistance is of 100m.
Like the other Yacht Timer Countdown models in catalogue, the handsome dark grey dial features a stamped guilloché pattern. It features applied silver hour markers and, like the hand-polished silver hour and minute hands, are treated with luminescent material. The only element of colour is provided by the central orange seconds hand that matches the colour of the final 5-minute orange markers for the countdown.
FC-380 Chronograph movement
The FC-380 calibre is based on an automatic Sellita SW-500 chronograph movement (a clone of the tried-and-tested cam-operated Valjoux 7750), with a specific module for the regatta countdown function. Beating at 28,800vph, it has a 48-hour power reserve. Industrially finished, the rotor is decorated with Geneva stripes. All the sub-counters have been removed and only the central seconds hand of the chronograph has been kept.
The 2020 Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown retails for EUR 3,495 (the same price as the two-tone model on a steel and gold-plated bracelet in the collection) and comes with an extra rubber strap. More information at frederiqueconstant.com.