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Buyer's guide: The best classic sailing watches

Whether you're speeding around a regatta course or just checking the time until dinner, no superyacht owner's wardrobe is complete without one of the best sailing watches. But with so many great yachting timepieces to choose from, how do you pick? We've rounded up the classics that every yacht lover should know about.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II

Designed specifically for professional sailors, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II is an icon of regatta racing. Incorporating the Oyster’s classic steel and rose gold bracelet, the world’s first programmable countdown for that crucial race starting sequence and a marine-themed Ring Command bezel which works in conjunction with the internal mechanism, this is the quintessential nautical timepiece.

Case: Steel, 44mm
Bracelet: Steel and 18ct Everose gold
Movement: Self-winding calibre 4161
Complications: Regatta chronograph with programmable countdown, synchronisation and stop-seconds dial at 6 o’clock
Waterproof: 100 metres
Price: £18,500, rolex.com

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Chronograph

Perhaps best known as one of the best James Bond watches, the Omega Seamaster Diver has been relied upon by divers for accurate timing both above and below the water for decades. First launched in 1948 for the French Navy Seals, the current models have been upgraded with Co-Axial calibres, bold colours and new functions to create timepieces that offer both style and substance.

Case: Steel, 44mm
Bracelet: Steel
Movement: Self-winding calibre Omega 3330
Complications: 30 minute recorder, 12 hour recorder, small seconds dial, date
Waterproof: 300 metres
Price: £4,000, omegawatches.com

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique

Released before either of its Rolex or Omega rivals, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is one of the oldest diving watches still available. It is now offered in no fewer than 30 models – including one of the best women's diving watches – but it is the Automatique version with its brown barrenia strap reminiscent of the early 1950s models that remains a classic.

Case: 18ct red gold, 45mm
Strap: Sail canvas
Movement: Self-winding calibre 1315
Complications: Date
Waterproof: 300 metres
Price: $33,500, blancpain.com

Tag Heuer Aquaracer 300M Chronograph

Launched in 1982, the Tag Heuer Aquaracer may not boast the extensive heritage of other classic sailing watches but, thanks to its slightly less daunting price tag, is still one of the most popular timepieces on the regatta circuit. An understated aesthetic with either black or navy dials, and a no nonsense approach to functions that work effectively without unnecessary complication, make the Aquaracer ideal for the yacht owner who’s all business when on board.

Case: Steel, 43mm
Bracelet: Steel
Movement: Quartz
Complications: Date, small seconds dials, counters for split seconds, minutes and hours
Waterproof: 300 metres
Price: £1,700, tagheuer.com

Breitling Superocean Chronograph Steelfish

Better known as a maker of pilot’s watches, the Superocean may be the only sailing watch in Breitling’s stable but that does not mean it should be overlooked. Water-resistant to a seriously impressive 500 metres with a choice of four different strap types and all the complications one expects of a quality diving watch, the vintage styling of the Chronograph Steelfish makes it a viable option both in and out of the water.

Case: Steel, 44mm
Strap: Leather, Diver Pro (rubber), Ocean Racer (rubber with folding clasp) or Professional III (steel)
Movement: Self-winding calibre Breitling 13
Complications: Day/date, 12 hour recorder, small seconds dial, 30 minute recorder
Waterproof: 500 metres
Price: £4,935, breitling.com

Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio

At 47mm, the Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta is certainly one of the largest classic diving watches around. Sporting the retro shape and design of its mid-century ancestors, this timepiece may only be water resistant to 100 metre but what it lacks in air tightness it certainly makes up for in style. The large dial means room for oversized numerals with impressive luminosity as well as small seconds and chronograph hour counter sub dials.

Case: Titanium, 47mm
Strap: Caoutchouc
Movement: Calibre P.9100/R
Complications: Small seconds, chronograph hour counter
Waterproof: 100 metres
Price: £13,850, panerai.com

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