Whether you’re an occasional weekend sailor or a serious offshore racer, a high-quality sailing watch should be an essential part of your gear. The right sailing watches can provide critical navigational information, track weather changes, and give you an extra measure of safety on the water. But what exactly is a sailing watch and what makes it different from a regular wristwatch?
What is A Sailing Watch?
A sailing watch, or yachting watch, is a specialized timepiece designed for use in the demanding conditions encountered when sailing or boating. It has specific features tailored for life on the water. A good sailing watch should be water-resistant, with many being fully waterproof to depths of 100 meters or more, allowing it to withstand splashes and even the occasional dunk in the drink without issue.
A sailing watch can be an indispensable navigational tool and safety device for any boating enthusiast. It provides critical information for sailing and helps give you peace of mind so you can sit back, feel the wind in your face, and enjoy being out on the open water. For any sailor, a sailing watch is a must-have item for your gear bag or sea bag before shoving off from the dock.
Sailing watches come in a wide range of styles, sizes, and price points. So how do you find the watch that suits your needs and budget? In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best sailing watches set to hit the market in 2023 and highlight what distinguishes them. We’ll look at key features like water resistance, visibility, durability, and any specialized functions.
List of The Best Sailing Watches
Check out the thorough reviews of the best sailing watches below.
The Garmin quatix 6 sailing watch seamlessly integrates marine connectivity and multisport features into a premier GPS smartwatch. Providing comprehensive connectivity to compatible Garmin marine electronics, the quatix 6 sailing watch allows boaters to remotely control autopilots, view boat data, drop virtual anchors and more. With a durable always-on 1.3-inch display encased in a stainless steel bezel, the quatix 6 sailing watch is built to withstand challenging marine conditions.
With support for optional BlueChart g3 coastal charts and LakeVü g3 inland maps, the quatix 6 sailing watch provides cartographic capabilities for mariners and water sports enthusiasts. Precision multi-band GNSS satellite reception, an altimeter and electronic compass offer pinpoint location accuracy and tracking.
The Garmin quatix 7 sailing watch has an always-on AMOLED display with a scratch-resistant coating, physical buttons and a touchscreen. It seamlessly connects to Garmin marine electronics, allowing remote access to chartplotter, stereo and autopilot functions. Critical tide and anchor alert data display on the watch face. Optional maps provide navigation for coastal, lake and recreational use.
When paired with a smartphone, the quatix 7 sailing watch enables notifications, activity tracking, Garmin Pay in some countries and 24/7 health monitoring like wrist-based heart rate, blood oxygen level, stress and sleep tracking. Preloaded golf, ski and downloadable topographic maps support land adventures. Water-resistant to 100 meters, the quatix 7 is built for aquatic use.
The Citizen Eco-Drive promaster sea sailing watch offers impressive depth tracking for demanding water activities. This watch features a depth meter that tracks and displays depths of up to 230 feet, instilling confidence in the depths. With a two-tone stainless steel case and bracelet using Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology, this watch is powered by any light and never needs a battery.
Water resistant to 200 meters, the Promaster tracks, displays and stores your maximum depth reached during the dive. The rapid ascent alarm helps prevent decompression sickness by alerting you if you ascend too quickly. The power reserve indicator shows how much power is left in the capacitor so there are no surprises. Bold hands and markers are illuminated allowing visibility even in low light conditions under water.
The Citizen Eco-Drive promaster sailhawk watch is a high-performance timepiece loaded with features for the yachting enthusiast. Powered by Eco-Drive, it harnesses solar energy and never requires a battery, ensuring uninterrupted functionality during extended time on the water. With a stainless steel case and mineral crystal dial, it has a water resistance rating of 200 meters, suitable for surface water sports and recreational scuba diving.
The watch provides essential timing functions for competitive sailing, including a yacht timer that measures up to 24 hours in 1/100 second increments, as well as split lap times. It offers dual time zones, displaying the local time as well as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Two programmable alarms and a 99-minute countdown timer provide audible alerts. The watch face is highly legible, with luminous hands and markers.
The Casio Pro Trek sailing watch utilizes innovative technology to provide essential outdoor functionality for adventure enthusiasts. Powered by Tough Solar, its rechargeable battery lasts up to 23 months on a full charge and has a 10-year lifespan. With over ten built-in sensors, the watch measures altitude, barometric pressure, temperature, and direction, all displayed on the easy-to-read digital screen. The mineral crystal and stainless steel casing are water resistant up to 200m, durable enough for marine sports.
Its sporty 55mm case and band withstand temperatures as low as -10°C, ideal for winter sports. The watch auto-calibrates to your location and provides alarm functions for sudden pressure changes. The detailed barometer measures from 260 to 1100hPa with 0.05hPa resolution.
The Suunto 9 Multisport Sailing Watch provides up to 120 hours of intense tracking with its Ultra battery mode for endurance activities. Its cutting-edge GPS and motion sensor FusedTrackTM algorithm achieves high accuracy tracking while optimizing battery life. Three pre-defined battery modes, including Performance, Endurance, and Ultra, enable over 5 days of continues activity tracking. Users can switch between different modes whenever needed based on their activities and battery levels.
Tested in extreme conditions by professional athletes worldwide, the Suunto 9 sailing watch is built to withstand the toughest adventures. It pairs with the new Suunto app to track long-term data like daily activity and sleep in addition to workout stats. The watch records over 80 sports with key metrics like speed, pace, distance and route. With wrist-based heart rate, it provides 24/7 heart rate monitoring and calories burned.
The Citizen analogue sailing watch is a high-functioning watch designed for recreational scuba diving up to 200 feet deep. Powered by Citizen’s proprietary self-winding movement, this 1.65-inch stainless steel watch provides precise timekeeping and has professional dive features like a one-way rotating bezel and screw-down crown to ensure water resistance. For maximum reliability, the Citizen analogue sailing watch is ISO-certified as a dive watch and backed by Citizen’s 5-year U.S. warranty. On average, the watch will run for up to 40 hours when fully wound.
The Seiko Black Boy sailing watch’s stainless steel case measures 1.65 inches in diameter and is water-resistant up to 200m. The polished, durable stainless steel construction withstands recreational diving conditions while the scratch-resistant Hardlex crystal protects the automatic display. Powered by a self-winding automatic movement, the watch features a 42-hour power reserve and provides reliable timekeeping in and out of the water. Bold Arabic numerals and luminous indexed markers offer legibility in low light, while the unidirectional rotating bezel allows divers to track immersion times.
The Timex Quartz Tide Temp sailing watch is a multifunctional timepiece that provides essential adventure utility. It’s 45mm stainless steel case and mineral crystal are durable in up to 100m of water, suitable for surface water sports. Its adjustable genuine leather strap offers a secure and comfortable fit on wrists up to 8 inches. The off-white dial presents time, date, and three key indicators powered by a quartz movement: an analog tide tracker that counts down to the next high or low tide, a thermometer that measures ambient temperatures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius, and an analog compass with major cardinal points.
At 2.64 lbs, its midsize build suits average frames. While limited in depth capacity, its 100m water resistance withstands surface pressure equivalent to a depth of 328 feet, adequate protection during recreational swimming and snorkeling activities.
Powered by a Japanese quartz movement with an analog display, the Nautica sailing watch delivers accurate timekeeping with a tolerance of 20 seconds per month. Encased in a 44mm stainless steel case and bracelet, this watch has a water resistance rating of 330 feet, making it suitable for surface water sports and recreational swimming. However, the 100m depth rating means this watch is not recommended for scuba diving.
For maximum visibility, the bold dial features large Arabic numeral hour markers, Nautica’s signature red seconds hand, and three chronograph subdials that measure 1/10 of a second, minutes, and 24 hours. The anti-reflective mineral crystal window protects the dial while providing a clear view.
How to Choose The Best Sailing Watches
Here are some tips to help you navigate the choices and determine the right sailing watch for your requirements.
Determine Your Needs: Weekend Cruising or Offshore Racing?
First, consider how and where you sail. If you’re a casual weekend cruiser, a basic sailing watch with essential functions like tide tables, compass, and weather resistance should suffice. Offshore racers or long-distance cruisers will require advanced features like GPS navigation, regatta timers, and emergency location functions. Choose a sailing watch that matches your activity level.
Check the Water Resistance
Any good sailing watch must be water-resistant, ideally waterproof. Look for a minimum 100-meter rating for splashes and rain. 200-300 meters or more is better for offshore sailing. Don’t assume a “waterproof” or “dive” watch can handle the constant stresses of the marine environment, though. Look for a watch specifically built for sailing.
Consider Visibility and Durability
For legibility day or night, choose large numerals, bold hands, and luminous or LED backlit displays. Choose a scratch-resistant crystal like sapphire and a durable case material, ideally stainless steel. The strap should be synthetic, rubber or stainless steel—not leather which can rot.
Assess Additional Functions
Tide charts, compass readings, chronographs and weather instruments like barometers are useful extras. GPS navigation, emergency locator beacons (EPIRB) and two-way emergency communication can be lifesaving for remote sailing. Think about which functions are most important for your needs.
Set a Budget
Sailing watches span from under $100 to over $1,000. Set a budget and stick to watches that meet your key needs. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a high-quality, full-featured sailing watch. Save money by sacrificing some functions or choosing a lesser-known brand. Buy based on quality, not name or status.
FAQs When Picking The Best Sailing Watches
Q: What makes a watch suitable for sailing?
A: A good sailing watch should be rugged, water-resistant to 200 meters or more, corrosion-resistant, and is specifically designed for waters ports. Key features include countdown timers, navigation assistance, weather indications etc.
Q: How much does a sailing watch typically cost?
A: The price ranges from around $50 to $500 or more, depending on the brand and features. Basic digital watches start around $50-100. Analog watches with some boating features are $200-$300. High-end sailing watches with GPS, emergency beacons and connectivity are $500 and up.
Q: What essential features should I look for in a sailing watch?
A: Water resistance to 200M or more, durable case and band, countdown timer or chronograph, backlight, tide/weather indicators or full GPS with navigation. Optional features include heart rate monitor, emergency beacon, smart notifications, etc.
Q: Do I need a smartwatch for sailing?
A: A smartwatch is not essential for sailing but can be useful. Look for a rugged model with advanced water resistance, GPS navigation, weather features, and safety tools. The Garmin Quatix series is popular. However, for basic needs, an analog sailing watch or sports watch may suit you fine and potentially save money. It depends on your requirements and budget.
Q: Can I use my regular watch when sailing?
A: It is not advisable to use a regular watch when sailing, especially in wet conditions. Watches not specifically designed for water sports typically lack the necessary water resistance and durability to withstand exposure to elements like saltwater. They can get damaged, corrode or become unsafe. For boating of any kind, invest in a watch built for sailing for maximum reliability and to avoid issues.
Q: What watch brands are best for sailing?
A: Top sailing watches brands include:
•Garmin – Popular for rugged GPS smartwatches like the Quatix series
•Suunto – Makes durable sports watches with sailing-specific features
•Citizen – Eco-Drive watches are solar-powered, water-resistant and corrosion-proof
•Nautica – Affordable analog and digital sailing watches
•TIMEX – Rugged and reliable sailing watches at a range of price points
•Casio – Known for durable, affordable digital sailing watches (G-Shock series)
With the guidelines provided in this guide, you now have the tools to choose a sailing watch you can sail confidently with for years to come. All that’s left is to hoist your sails and embark on your next adventure—we’ll keep an eye on the horizon for what’s to come in sailing watches and beyond. Stay tuned!
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