Owning a luxury yacht has long been considered a status symbol, and the prestige of seafaring has carried over to the horological world. Nautical and diving models are now more than water-resistant watches with chronographs; they are highly technical timepieces that speak for the watch owner's horological know-how and love for sailing. According to Panerai's Asia-Pacific managing director Jean-Sebastien Gerondeau, the brand is seeing a growing demand for sailing watches from yacht owners, particularly on the mainland. 'We have been noticing an increasing interest from the mainland Chinese towards Panerai professional diving watches,' says Gerondeau. 'We are seeing more and more yacht owners wearing Panerai as they believe that to be a professional in the sailing world, one should wear a Panerai submersible.' The brand's first watch prototypes were created for the Italian Royal Navy in the early 1900s. Today Panerai maintains its link to the nautical world by restoring vintage yachts and, in recent years, sponsoring the annual Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. The brand launches a special edition watch every year as a tribute to the circuit and its history with the sea. This year Panerai has created the Luminor Submersible 1950 Regatta 3 Days GMT Automatic Titanio 47mm. The brushed titanium case contains a P.9001 automatic calibre and features a rotating bezel with a graduated scale, while the dial has a hand for second time zone indication and the model is water-resistant to 300 metres. Rolex, another sponsor of major sailing events such as the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, released its new Yacht-Master II model this year. The Yacht-Master II is the world's first complication watch to feature a programmable countdown and mechanical memory function, and the new model comes in a two-tone steel and everose gold case. Corum's Admiral's Cup collection has long been associated with sailing, and the brand is strengthening its ties to the sport by sponsoring the Bol d'Or Mirabaud, the world's largest closed water regatta, for the second year in a row. To honour this partnership, Corum launched the new Admiral's Cup Seafender 48 Chrono Bol d'Or Mirabaud. Unlike its usual chronographs, this model features chronograph minutes and seconds hands mounted in the centre axis rather than on small counters on the dial. The model comes in a titanium case with blue PVD finish and is limited to 30 pieces. Divers will find Ball's new Engineer Hydrocarbon DeepQuest well suited to their purpose. Ball has raised the water resistance to 3,000 metres, made possible in particular by machining the entire case out of a single block onto which the bezel is directly screwed. Taking it to even further depths is the new Hublot Oceanographic 4000. Hublot released the watch in association with the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco - the first collaboration of its kind for the museum - and the brand spent 18 months of research, development and testing to create this timepiece, built to withstand pressure even at a depth of 4,000 metres. In addition to the 6.5mm-thick synthetic sapphire crystal covering on the case, which ensures its water pressure resistance, the watch's dial, hands and flange are also treated with SuperLuminova over a large surface area so that the time and elapsed time are clearly visible even at a distance of 25cm in the dark. Other safety features include a crown guard and helium valve. Many non-divers are drawn to the aesthetic variety of diving watches. Hublot CEO Jean-Claude Biver says people also expect their diving watches to look and feel good. 'Customers are getting more attracted to new materials, new colours and new finishings,' he says. 'They are also looking for much lighter watches - super light is now in strong demand.' Other luxury brands are aware of this demand. Last year Omega became the first watchmaker to combine ceramic and Liquidmetal for a material so hard that it holds its shape and appearance indefinitely. This year's Seamaster Planet Ocean 45.5mm Titanium and Liquidmetal offers the collection's signature features, including a unidirectional rotating bezel, helium escape valve, SuperLuminova-coated indexes and hands, and Omega's exclusive Co-Axial calibre movement. Breitling's Superocean II gets a mini-facelift with the new 44mm model. The Superocean 44 is available as a three-hand or chronograph watch, and the models are water-resistant to 2,000 metres and 500 metres respectively. The timepiece comes in a wide range of colour options. Romain Jerome has launched a new model within its Titanic-DNA collection. As do all the models within the collection, Octopus contains a small amount of oxidised and stabilised steel from the Titanic in its bezel. The diving watch features an engraved octopus on its back and, along with the layered dial, the effect is highly striking and three-dimensional. Other seafaring novelties launched this year include the Richard Mille RM 032, Blancpain's X Fathoms and Oris Divers Mid-Size. The RM 032 is a sturdy, reliable diver's watch that features a water-resistant case effective up to 300 metres, a unidirectional rotating bezel and a crown locking system. Other functions include a flyback chronograph and an annual calendar with an oversized date. The X Fathoms concept watch from Blancpain features depth measuring up to 90 metres and a retrograde five-minute counter for decompression stops. The Oris Divers Mid-Size is a vision in white, a rarity among predominantly black or steel diving watches. The 36mm model is also smaller than most diving timepieces, and the 300-metre-resistant watch comes with a unidirectional bezel, SuperLuminova hands and a range of dial and strap options.