Sailing watches were originally only made by the best luxury watchmakers. The Rolex Yacht-Master, for example, is one of the most iconic yachting watches ever sold. Or take the Swiss luxury brand Breguet which has specialized in nautical watches for over 200 years making chronometers for the French Royal Navy. For example, the Breguet Marine Équation Marchante 5887 currently priced at $215,000!
While those watches are wonderful to admire, they are beyond expensive. On this list, we want to provide watches that are reasonably priced and packed with features that are useful for sailing.
A good place to start is the countdown timer, one of the useful features to look for in a sailing watch. A skipper needs to measure the interval that leads to the start of the race/regatta, which can be extremely challenging due to the wind conditions and current. Ideally, you want a countdown timer that automatically converts to a racing chronograph when it hits zero, like the one on the Tissot Sailing Touch Watch.
2022 Update: If you’re looking for the ultimate full-featured boating smartwatch, look at the new Garmin Quatix® 6X Solar, part of the brand’s new solar-powered smartwatch line that adds potentially unlimited battery power and more marine-specific features to the previous Quatix models that were already highly-regarded in the sailing community.
This article will feature both old and new brands and will cover the best sailing watches – from affordable to luxury options.
Best Sailing Watches
Garmin Quatix 6 Multisport – Premium Sailing Smartwatch
With this model in the line-up, Garmin has built upon the solid performance and features of the Quatix 5 mentioned above and added a solar-powered battery along with new features, some of which are unique on the market.
As we reported in mid-2020, Garmin launched its solar watch line, which included an upgraded version of the Instinct, Fenix, Tactix, and the Quantix. The most important new feature is the solar-powered battery, which offers up to 21 days of power out of the box. You can increase that by tweaking the settings (i.e., reducing your GPS usage) by using multiple modes. The UltraTrac™ battery saver mode will give you 60 hours of GPS, and Expedition GPS Activity mode will provide you with a very impressive 46 days (plus ten days with solar charging). While most users won’t need this type of battery duration, it could be a valuable safety tool if you are doing long sailing trips or in a situation where you need to rely solely on your wearable for GPS.
As far as sailing goes, the 6 includes Garmin SailAssist™ with an improved sail racing profile that includes distance to start line, virtual starting line, tack assist, and race countdown timer. Tide data can easily be downloaded and synced to your smartphone, anchor alarm and boat data streaming are all included.
When it comes to health and fitness tracking, the Quatix 6 introduces a plethora of features, including- abnormal heart rate alerts, respiration rate, and Blood Oxygen (Pulse Ox), as well as stress and relaxation reminders.
For everyday use, the new model includes the ability to play music with onboard storage for up to 2,000 songs, as well as Garmin pay.
For athletes looking for a full-featured sports watch, the Quantix 6 has tracking for almost everything you can think of – from yoga to standup paddleboarding, and the new underwater wrist-based heart rate tracker is great for water sports.
It probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise that all of these features come at a cost as this new model is priced well above the previous generation.
Tissot “Sailing Touch” Watch – Swiss-Made
One of the essential features of the Tissot Sailing Touch is a countdown function, which turns into a racing chronograph once it reaches zero. The watch also has a compass, barometer, and a tide feature (informs you of the time of high tides and low tides, and if they are coming in or going out).
This watch can assist you when competing in regattas, as it has a regatta timer that will let you position yourself on the starting line.
Other design highlights include luminous markers and hands, a sapphire crystal interface, a backlight, and two time zones. The time is analog, which can also be displayed on the LCD, and it also has a perpetual calendar. You can choose from several bezel colors too (red, blue, and silver). See the different Sailing Touch models here.
Timex Intelligent Quartz Yacht Racer Watch – Value Pick
The analog Timex Intelligent Quartz Yacht Racer boasts of a pre-programmed date feature that only needs to be set once—you don’t need to adjust it for decades after that. This one was built especially for the sport, timing the race from start to finish.
This watch is water-resistant up to 330 ft, so you can also use it for swimming and snorkeling, and the newer models also have the Indiglo feature.
One of the things that several users have pointed out is the size of the watch. It’s 46 millimeters in diameter and is 14 millimeters thick, so users with bigger wrists usually prefer it. The price tag is reasonable, making it an excellent entry-level watch for a first regatta.
Casio Tide Watch (WS-1100H-4AVCF)
For those looking for a reliable and budget-friendly sailing watch, the Casio Tide Watch should be on your radar. This digital timepiece from Casio comes with a 100-meter water resistance which means you can use it for swimming, but don’t bring it for scuba diving.
The Casio Tide Watch also comes with both a tide graph and moon phase to help you navigate the waters better. As for the design, this watch focuses more on lightweight comfort with its 43mm resin case and silicone straps.
One notable aspect about the Casio Tide Graph is its remarkable 10-year battery life, which enhances its overall reliability by a wide margin. Other notable features include an LED light to give wearers optimum visibility at night, the standard alarm, stopwatch, full-auto calendar, and countdown timer.
All in all, the Casio Tide Watch is a cost-effective sailing and fishing watch for those who want something reliable and affordable to accompany them in their hobby.
Optimum Time Sailing Watch: Simple Budget Pick
If you are looking for an affordable yet functional sailing watch, the Optimum Time Series Sailing Watch is one of your best bets.
This watch has a silicone strap (personalized with different highlight colors), a stainless steel buckle, and a large display. You have the option to use its three-row display for easy viewing of the time and the timer at the same time.
The shock resistance OS Series 1231R has new and improved features like a clearer display/contrast and high contrast dot matrix display. Its USB-powered charging is convenient too. This one has a more casual, laid-back design and is water-resistant up to 5ATM. It also has the Sync Button, which allows you to get back to the race if you miss the gun. It’s not the most durable watch on the market, but it is priced as a budget watch.
Garmin Quatix 5
If you’re looking for a watch with multisport functions, this should be at the top of your list. Garmin is a trusted brand when it comes to smartwatches for sports, so you’re sure that you’ll have some of today’s best technology.
The Garmin Quatix 5 is built on the powerful Fenix 5 platform, a smartwatch designed for use in the water. This is a good option if you want a more affordable version of the Quantix since the price has dropped since the release of the newers version 6.
There really are too many features to name here. If you want a closer look at what’s changed to see which is a better fit – check out this comparison of the Quatix 5 and 6 on Garmin.
This powerful GPS marine smartwatch has a heart rate monitor (it’s wrist-based, so you don’t need to use a chest strap). Aside from the boat features, this model also has functions for a wide array of sports (i.e. running, hiking, biking, swimming, etc.)
Garmin has dozens of models for different sports and fitness activities, but the reason why the Quantix model made our list is that it has Garmin SailAssist™ Capabilities that allow the user to have a virtual starting line. There is also a tack assist and a race countdown timer.
This one is excellent on water, but it’s equally efficient on dry land too. Its simple design is also perfect for daily wear.
SUUNTO Core – All around value
While the SUUNTO Core is a modern smartwatch at its core, no pun intended, its exterior build is a rugged tactical watch.
If you’d like a brand new Suunto for sailing, this multi-sport watch is compatible with sailing activity through the Suunto app and also has useful features including the Storm Alarm, Sea level pressure graph and Weather Trend Indicator.
The exterior of the SUUNTO Core focuses on durability while keeping the timepiece lightweight and comfortable. This goal was achieved by incorporating composite material with aluminum bezels which provide the SUUNTO Core with solid shock-absorbing. The Core also utilizes US Army standard textile strap for that added toughness.
When it comes to timekeeping, the Core is as reliable as a timepiece can be, and it also comes with standard alarms, a countdown timer, and stopwatch functionalities. This is also feature-rich smartwatch designed to make outdoor activities more convenient for the wearer.
The Core has a barometer and altimeter with an altitude log for added accessibility. Along with the two features stated previously is a built-in compass with adjustable declination, making it a good ABC watch. The compass used in the SUUNTO Core also allows you to keep track of your route. Therefore, it is beneficial if you want a general reference of your current location and trajectory.
Additionally, this smartwatch can also be used for diving as it can indicate your current depth for up to 30-feet. A built-in thermometer can also provide readings from -5F to 140F (-20C to 40C). All in all, the SUUNTO Core is an excellent outdoor smartwatch with fantastic waterproof capabilities and an easy-to-use UI. The only downside we found in the Core is its display which suffers from glare in high-contrast environments.
The brand’s sailor-specific watch, the Suunto Elementum Ventus, was one of our top picks in the past but this one is not made anymore, but you may still find second-hand models on the market today.
Occasionally one will pop up on eBay.
The Suunto Elementum Ventus is a smartwatch with a sleek and sophisticated design, sapphire crystal glass, stainless steel case, and leather strap. The sailing features include a sailing timer, chronograph, compass, and weather predictions.
Garmin MARQ Captain (010-02006-06)
The Garmin MARQ Captain is an impressive luxury smartwatch filled to the brim with fantastic features for various activities. Along with Garmin’s staple features such as GPS, activity tracker, smart notifications, and Garmin Pay support – the MARQ Captain also provides Driver, Aviator, Expedition, Athlete, and Captain modes. This smartwatch is undoubtedly a masterclass in what these devices can achieve.
Design-wise the Garmin MARQ is more oversized than your typical smartwatch. However, this bulkier appearance makes sense considering the MARQ’s build quality and feature-packed design. Also, despite the larger build of the Garmin MARQ, it is surprisingly lighter than you would think, at only 94 grams.
In terms of features, the Garmin MARQ offers similar functionalities to the Garmin Fenix 6, and I would even dare say that the MARQ is simply a flashier version of the Fenix 6. However, one of the most notable features in the Garmin MARQ is undoubtedly the Athlete mode. This feature comes with layers of functionality that cover a vast selection of sports such as running, swimming, cycling, skiing, and golf.
Besides the variety of sports features, MARQ also offers nifty functions such as a heart-rate sensor, stress tracking, and incident detection that sends notifications to your emergency contacts about your location. I also want to highlight the Recovery feature, which helps you keep track of your rest which can significantly help if you are nursing an injury.
For sailing, I have to say that Garmin MARQ provides an unbeatable collection of features for sailors. The MARQ comes with a Regatta feature that helps you formulate the optimum route. The Tack feature also gives you real-time updates on wind shifts. In addition, the Garmin MARQ comes with a Man Overboard function that enables you to track a person who accidentally fell off the boat, which is one of its unique features.
Garmin MARQ is undoubtedly one of the top options available in the market as a sailing watch. The Garmin Fenix 6 is a solid sailing watch, but the MARQ Captain is undoubtedly the more stylish of the two.
Ronstan ClearStart Sailing Watch – Budget
Another budget-friendly option for sailors is the Ronstan ClearStart Sailing Watch.
With a decent 5ATM (50-meters) water resistance rating, this digital timepiece should be able to handle a splash or two. It also comes with a World Sailing option, precisely, for boat racing.
Aesthetically, the Ronstan ClearStart Sailing Watch has a pretty standard digital watch design. Simple and direct to the point is what this digital timepiece offers when it comes to appearance. However, it is in its functionality that it genuinely succeeds.
With multiple features on hand, the Ronstan ClearStart Sailing Watch is a fantastic sports timepiece with an affordable price tag. The watch offers a dual display that simultaneously shows real-time and countdown timers. Thanks to the large LCD and its 50mm resin case, the Ronstan ClearStart Sailing has more than enough space to display all necessary information.
The accurate start timer, large LCD, user-friendly UI, and sailing-specific features make this timepiece an excellent choice for sailors at a very affordable price.
Now that we’ve got the more affordable models covered, it’s time to focus on the luxury brands. While most of the watches above are quite affordable, sailing watches were traditionally only made by luxury brands including Aquastar, Breitling, Tag Heuer, Omega, and Rolex, all known for watchmaking expertise, precision, and hefty price tags.
Corum Admiral AC One 45 Tides
This brand also has a rich history. Swiss brand Corum has been around since the 1950s. It’s a prolific company, regularly producing new, limited-edition models. One of its most popular releases is the Admiral’s Cup line of watches, which started production in the 1960s.
The Admiral AC One 45 Tides, the updated model. has gone through several updates but stays true to its original design.
Its CO 277 caliber movement was meticulously developed for years with the Astronomic Observatory of Geneva and the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Services of the French National Navy. This CO 277 caliber is a unique movement specialized for tide indicators, setting this watch model apart from the competition.
This one has a distinct 45mm dodecagonal titanium case, a brushed titanium bezel, an anti-reflective sapphire crystal case, and a vulcanized rubber strap.
What makes this model unique is the tides indicator: tide time and strength, lunar cycle, and strength of the currents/ height of the tides.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master, a regatta watch, is one of the most popular luxury yacht watches out there.
The brand boasts of being “the only chronograph in the world with a mechanical memory,” a watch for water sports and sailing.
The TheYacht-Master caliber 4161, is a “self-winding mechanical chronograph movement” developed by the company. The first-ever model of this Rolex was released in 2010. The movement, which comprises 360 parts, took approximately 35,000 hours to create.
The Yacht-Master II is made of Oystersteel (developed by Rolex), powerfully resistant superalloys used in high-technology industries, making it exceptional in harsh environments. Users can program the countdown for a duration of between 1 and 10 minutes that returns to its previous setting at reset.
It’s waterproof up to 330 feet or 100 meters, is scratch-resistant and has a power reserve of approximately 72 hours.
If you’re looking for a 100% Certified Authentic pre-owned Rolex, see the Yacht-Master models currently available on bobswatches.com
Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta
Another famous name in luxury regatta watches the Swiss Ulysse Nardin Marine watch. This regatta chronograph has meticulously designed kinematics to ensure extremely precise.
One of the highlights of this Ulysse Nardin watch is how the chronograph starts. In most watches, the sailor activates the countdown, stops the countdown at the start of the crossing line, and then starts the chronograph.
The UN Marine Regatta is designed to automatically switch from countdown to chronograph at the start at the end of the countdown. The company also assures an extended five-year warranty (which started in 2017) for anyone who buys a brand-new model.
Ulysse Nardin has been making precision marine chronometers since 1846, pioneering innovative products that continue to stay relevant today.
or Click here to search eBay for new and used Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta
Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta
Panerai has an interesting history. It is an old brand that entered the civilian market in the 90s, but prior to this, it created dive watches for the Royal Italian Navy’s underwater missions during World War II.
This history and its precision, utilitarian features, and beauty have gained the brand passionate fans and collectors to this day.
Made especially for sailing, this classic dive watch has a professional regatta countdown.
The Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta features a 47mm brushed titanium case with a rubber bracelet. The bezel is polished titanium. The dial is black with luminous Arabic numerals and hour markers.
Search eBay for available Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta watches here.
Bremont Regatta AC
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The Bremont Regatta AC (America’s Cup) is a limited edition model (the company only produced 235 pieces) and is no longer in production.
However, you can still try your luck searching for sellers on eBay.
It was priced at around $6,800 when it was still available, this is relatively more affordable than the two luxury brands above. This series and a partnership with Oracle Team USA (OTUSA) were released in Baselworld 2016 with much acclaim. A Blog to Watch quoted Oracle Team USA Skipper Jimmy Spithill as saying (about both AC and OTUSA):
“Naturally, we have a central digital clock on the boat but every sailor still likes to have the time on his wrist, and before a race the countdown to the start is critical. It’s a really tough sport both mentally and physically, and not only does the team need to make decisions under immense pressure but we need to have equipment that allows us to do so,” Spithill said. “With the countdown function being so crucial when racing out on the water, we are really delighted that Bremont has invested in this for us and it’s incredibly special for me that the watches also incorporate some of our winning AC72 which I skippered in 2013.”
Some of the main features of the AC include a titanium case material, automatic movement, sapphire glass, and a rubber bracelet. This chronograph timepiece’s sleek, classic design exudes elegance without being flashy.
TNG Classic Tornado Sailing Chronograph
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This is one of the relatively newer brands on this list, but you can count on the company to produce a competitive product. One of TNG’s founders is Olympic sailor Herbert Dercksen, who has won multiple times at the World Tornado Championships. Co-founder Frans Dingerdis is also a sailor and marketing specialist.
The TNG (Tack & Gybe) Classic Tornado Sailing Chronograph has a full automatic sailing time that’s ready for a five and ten-minute countdown. This Swiss-made model has a simple, classic look that will look good in the water and for daily use. Click to search eBay for this watch.
Other features of this Swiss-made/Dutch-designed chronograph are sapphire scratch-resistant crystal, a power reserve of 42 hours, automatic winding, 28.800 vibrations per hour, and superluminous indexes/hands. The design is a sapphire scratch-resistant crystal, a stainless steel case, and a screw-in crown and case back.
Sailing watches are not cheap, but considering the time and workmanship that goes into every device, they deserve the investment.
Good luck with your search, whether you’re looking for a watch for your first regatta or looking for a more high-end watch to add to your collection.