Spring is around the corner, and regatta season will be in full swing before you know it. several purveyors of luxury watches have developed timepieces specifically suited for competitive sailing and other nautical activities, often with some version of the all-important regatta countdown function. Here we run down five yachting and regatta watches and reveal why they’re ideal companions out on the waves.

Corum has been making watches for yachtsmen since 1960, when it debuted the first Corum Admiral’s Cup watch, named after and inspired by the famous yacht race of the same name. The Admiral’s Cup has since grown to become an entire collection, one of Corum’s core pillars. Numerous variations on the Corum Admiral’s Cup have been introduced over the years, including, at Baselworld 2014, the Corum Admiral’s Cup AC-One 45 Tides. This Rolex Repica Daytona Watches movement, Caliber CO 277 — which Corum spent three years working with the Astronomic Observatory of Geneva and French Navy’s oceanographic institute to create — contains a mechanical complication that is eminently useful for someone piloting a boat: a moon-phase-like function that informs the wearer of how strong and how high the tides are, and when high and low tide will next occur. (Tides, of course, are affected by the moon’s relation to the earth and sun.) A hand on the subdial at 12 o’clock indicates the tidal coefficient, or range between high and low tides. A subdial at 6 o’clock tells when the next two tides will occur. Meanwhile, the 9 o’clock display tells the wearer if tides are rising or falling. The date is displayed at 3 o’clock. The Corum Admiral’s Cup AC-One 45 Tides has the collection’s hallmark 12-sided case, which is made of titanium coated with blue PVD and measures 45 mm in diameter, and comes on a vulcanized blue rubber strap.

Corum Admiral's Cup AC-One 45 Tides

Panerai is much better known for making watches for use underwater rather than above the waves, but the Swiss-Florentine brand began sponsoring the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge in 2005 and introduced its first dedicated yachting watch at SIHH 2013. The Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Titanio (PAM00526) has a lightweight, brushed titanium case, 47 mm in diameter, and is outfitted with Panerai’s in-house Caliber P.9100/R, which powers not only a flyback chronograph but a user-friendly regatta countdown function.

To start the countdown to a regatta (in which perfect timing is crucial, with all boats required to line up behind an imaginary line without crossing it), the owner pushes an orange push-button at 4 o’clock to move the central orange chronograph minute hand back, one minute at a time, until it is at the correct position in relation to the length of the countdown. Next, he presses the chronograph stop/start button at 10 o’clock, which starts the chronograph hands moving, indicating first the minutes and seconds remaining until the start, and then, when the countdown has finished, the time elapsed since the start of the race. At the end of the interval being measured, the push-button at eight o’clock returns all the chronograph hands to zero; if it is operated while the hands are still moving, it activates the return-to-zero (flyback) function of these hands, enabling the wearer to start timing a new interval immediately, without using the stop and reset buttons. The flange around the dial displays a 15-minute scale for the regatta countdown, with the five final minutes distinguished in orange, along with a tachymeter scale that is measured in knots, which enables a sailor to determine the speed of his boat over a defined distance. For more details on this Panerai watch, including the price, click here.

Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Titanio

The Rolex Replica Yacht-Master II UK — the successor to the original Rolex Yacht-Master — debuted in 2007 and introduced a Rolex-exclusive regatta countdown function that can be “programmed” from 1 to 10 minutes and incorporates a mechanical memory that allows it to be reset to the same countdown duration used previously. Once launched, the countdown can also be synchronized on the fly, enabling adjustment to match the official regatta start-time countdown. Programming the countdown is easy, by means of the rotatable Ring Command bezel, a Rolex-developed system linking the bezel to the movement.

The Rolex Yacht-Master II has a 44-mm Rolex Oyster case (available in several precious metals, in Rolex’s proprietary “Rolesium” material, or in a new stainless steel version with blue Cerachrom bezel, shown below.) The watch contains the Rolex manufacture Caliber 4161, which has a COSC chronometer certification and includes a column-wheel chronograph. For more on the Rolex Yacht-Master II, click here.

Rolex Yacht-Master II - stainless steel - standing

Not everyone who owns a boat is a millionaire, and the Alpina Sailing Yachttimer Countdown is a yachting watch for those on a slightly tighter timepiece budget. For under $5,000, the owner of this watch gets a clever yachting-specific complication, namely a moving countdown window that counts down from 10 to 1, gradually revealing a red “START” indicator for the start time of a regatta. The Alpina Sailing Yachttimer is a limited edition of only 8,888 pieces. The Repica Rolex Submariner Watches has a 44-mm stainless steel case, with a see-through caseback offering a view of the in-house movement, Caliber AL-880, and comes on a black rubber strap.

Alpina Sailing Yachttimer Countdown

New for 2014, the Perrelet Turbine Yacht — another new complication for the distinctive Turbine collection, which has swiftly become Perrelet’s flagship family — combines the spinning dial-side turbine-style rotor with an integrated windrose function, inspired by the world of yachting, which helps to orient sailors by points of reference and the position of the sun. The Perrelet Turbine Yacht has a substantial, 47-mm-diameter stainless steel case, also available with either black or bronze-toned PVD coating. The turbine rotor on the dial, made of titanium, has 11 blades, echoing the look of a submarine propellor, and rotates above a surface with a maritime-themed parallel-line pattern reminiscent of the teakwood deck of a yacht. The windrose — according to Wikipedia, “a graphic tool used by meteorologists to give a succinct view of how wind speed and direction are typically distributed at a particular location” — is on a bidirectional rotating ring surrounding the dial. prices for the Perrelet Turbine Yacht range from $6,550 to $7,200.

Perrelet Turbine Yacht