Every second counts
The sailing season has begun - the wind and current conditions on the South China Sea are about as stable as they can get - and the right timepiece can be a sailor's best friend when it comes to facing the elements.
Racers, in particular, need a trusty, accurate timekeeper, and Seiko has added four watches to its Velatura marine collection. The new 49er Class Chronograph is a celebration of the fourth year of the Japanese watchmaker's partnership with the International 49er Class Association. In a stainless-steel case with black hard coating, the glass is anti-reflective sapphire, so you can see it clearly through the glare of the sun and the salty spray of a race. It has a sturdy polyurethane strap and the chronograph hands are a distinctive yellow.
The 2010 Velatura collection includes two other chronographs on steel bracelets, and a kinetic direct-drive model (top right) with a black strap and black stainless-steel case with hard coating. The kinetic direct-drive is priced at about Euro1,030 (HK$10,700) while the chronographs are valued from Euro600 to Euro670. All watches are water-resistant up to 100 metres.
Luxury Italian brand Panerai has released a special edition for the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2010: the Radiomir Regatta 1/8th Second Titanio - 47mm (above). A combination of functionality and top-end manufacturing, the Radiomir has a split-second func- tion with two overlapping hands, which allows sailors to clock two simultaneous events. And accurately, too - as its name suggests, the Radiomir's chronograph is precise up to one-eighth of a second. The movement has an exclusive automatic OP XXI calibre with an anti-shock device, a knot counter that calculates boat speed based on nautical miles and a power reserve of 42 hours. The black dial comes with luminous Arabic numerals housed under anti-reflective sapphire crystal. Its 47mm case is in brushed titanium and the back is engraved in honour of the Classic Yachts Challenge. Only 500 pieces are available. The watch, which comes with a personalised Panerai leather strap and large brushed titanium buckle, is priced at HK$131,200.
There are two kinds of people who wear nautical watches: 'real' sailors, who prioritise functional excellence; and those rich enough to buy a yacht or two, and bask in the sun admiring that functional excellence while someone else does the hard work. Swiss watchmaker Tissot has created a watch that caters to both: the Sailing Touch Watch. The watch is designed to weather the most perfect of storms and comes with 19 Top Wesselton diamonds encrusted in the bezel because, well, you never know who you may bump into at the yacht club.
Along with a funky sapphire crystal touch-screen interface, the Sailing Touch has a regatta timer, a tide calculator, a built-in digital compass, a chronograph and speed-measuring feature and even a weather-predicting function. A rubber strap or a rubber with stainless-steel bracelet will keep the watch safely wrapped around your wrist and it's resistant to 100 metres. The Sailing Touch costs between HK$6,600 and HK$8,000.
Swiss watchmaker IWC has given its iconic Portuguese watch a technical upgrade. The Yacht Club Chronograph (below), the first truly sporty watch from the Portuguese collection, maintains its signature subtle design with classic embossed Arabic numerals, tapered swallow-style hands and recessed minutes and seconds dials. Its chronograph is modern and robust, with a flyback function and analogue display of the long stop times via two hands on an inner dial. The chronograph is due to hit IWC's Hong Kong boutiques in July and prices are expected to start at about HK$100,000 for the steel version and HK$179,000 for the red-gold one. Water-resistant to 60 metres, it is the only member of the Portuguese family with luminous hands and indices.