Effortless style and high-tech functionality combine in our round-up of the best boating watches you can buy right now…
On the subject of watches, style guru and editor of Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine Dylan Jones once wrote in his book Mr. Jones Rules’ For The Modern Man ‘…you can be walking along a deserted Caribbean beach, wearing only a pair of shorts, but if you’re sporting a big expensive watch then you’re still well dressed’ – something that might equally well have been written about boating watches.
For a boat owner of a certain age, this would have traditionally meant a stainless steel sports Rolex, if for no other reason than James Bond always wore a Rolex (the real one of Fleming’s books, not the movie interloper).
These days Rolex is little out of reach, since new stainless steel sports Rolexes are unobtainable unless you have a ‘special relationship’ with your authorised dealer, and secondhand values have quintupled as a result.
So instead, here are six of the most practical and most stylish boating watches that won’t break the bank. After all, rules are made to be broken, even those of Mr Jones.
8 of the best boating watches
Spinnaker Tesei Titanium
Somewhat of an interloper in the established and clubby world of the wristwatch, UK brand Spinnaker has been with us for less than a decade. Yet in that time it’s established itself firmly as a maker of a wide variety of mostly nautically inspired timepieces.
With a range of seven distinct models, each model available in a sub set of colours, material and straps, the choice this fledgling company offers is remarkable.
This Tesei Titanium, as the name suggests, has a case made from titanium for durability combined with light weight. At 43mm across, it’s not short of presence, and it’s available in Matte Black, Forest Green, Everlight White or the Shadow Grey that you see here, complete with blue uni-directional bezel.
A matching 22mm solid Titanium bracelet keeps it safe, as does a sapphire crystal, screw down crown and 200m water resistance rating. The movement is a Japan NH35 TMI Automatic, so no batteries and no winding, provided you stay active (it’s powered by a counterweight that winds the movement).
RRP: £495 / $625
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Apple Watch Series 7
King of the smart watches, the most obvious feature of this latest model from Apple is a watch face/screen that sits proud and wraps around the edges in a surprisingly satisfying manner. It’s created by reducing the borders by 40%, which allows for nearly 20% more screen area than Series 6. And over 50% more screen area than Series 3.
Crack, dust and water resistant, it’s a Retina Display that is always on, rather than having to be activated, and as it’s a touch screen, that means that the displayed buttons are larger. Or you can just scribble on it to compose text messages or emails.
Five new aluminium case finishes include midnight, starlight, green, and a new blue and red, along with a range of new strap colours and styles. Stainless steel models are available in silver, graphite, and gold colours. What does it do? Simply put, everything.
RRP: £369 / $399
Apple Watch Series 7 deals
Garmin Quatix 6S Titanium
Read Nick’s full Garmin Quatix 6 review
Arguably the ultimate boating watch, the Quatix 6S Titanium is a smart watch that connects to your phone and does the usual displaying of emails and text messages, monitoring fitness data such as heart rate and even Pulse Ox blood oxygen saturation.
A good looking device, it’s a chunky 47mm but the circular case makes it look a little less geeky than the ubiquitous Apple product.
And whilst it lacks the brightly coloured Retina display, it also lacks the battery burn – in smartwatch mode you can expect 14 days between charges, rather than 18 hours. But where it gets really interesting is when you connect it via NMEA(R) 2000 boat data streaming to your MFD.
Now you’ve got heading, speed, depth, water temperature, waypoint navigation information, wind data and more, right there on your wrist. You can even use Fusion-Link entertainment control to operate your Fusion boat hifi.
But best of all, connect to a compatible Garmin system and it will even give you autopilot control!
RRP: £999.99 / $1,149.99
Casio G Shock Frogman GWF-A1000XC-1AER
‘Bulletproof’ is a term that gets bandied around a lot, and whilst the snappily entitled Casio G Shock Frogman GWF-A1000XC-1AER won’t actually stop a bullet, it’s probably the watch most likely to survive pretty much anything else you can throw at it.
The monocoque structure of this model incorporates the case and back cover into a single piece and its patented Hollow Core Guard Structure protects against impact and vibration.
The strap is made using carbon-reinforced resin, making it both strong and lightweight, and an extension mechanism on the buckle that allows it to be easily worn over a wet suit.
ISO 200m water resistance make it suitable for professional diving. Large, luminescent hour and minute hands improve readability.
The rechargeable battery lasts up to 5 months, extended further by a high-capacity solar-charging system harnesses the power of any light source for reliable watch operation with minimal impact to the environment.
RRP: £1,149 / $765
British watch manufacturer Marloe was only formed in 2015, yet already boasts 6 diverse collections of timepieces from dress watches to aviation. The Solent range, says Marloe, ‘epitomises the approach of robustness, something that all nautical furniture seems to adopt; whether it be the hull of a yacht, the bob of a buoy or the granite-flared base of a lighthouse – each has an underlying seam of strength’.
The Solent Windward is the latest expression of the brand. It takes its design cues from the wind-direction instruments and vector field diagrams showing wind patterns. At 42mm, it sports a display casebook so that you can see the Miyota 9039 automatic mechanical movement beating at 28,800bph.
There are five strap colours to choose from, and intriguingly, you can select the serial number from remaining choices which is a nice touch to celebrate a birth year for example.
RRP: £349 / $400
Christopher Ward C60 Trident Bronze
The C60 Trident Bronze is a rather unique watch. It’s made out of bronze instead of stainless steel for a start. Used in early diving helmets, bronze is an alloy, primarily made of copper, with 12-15 percent tin, making it both durable and resistant to salt-water corrosion.
But it oxidises over time, developing its own unique ‘patina’. Even the contrasting blue dial has been hand-distressed – so no one watch is ever precisely the same.
This is a watch designed to age gracefully. 40mm is the perfect size, and the hands and indexes are filled with Super-LumiNova® Grade X1 GL C1 for good visibility in low light.
The Sellita SW200-1 Automatic 26-jewel movement (an upgrade on the classic Sellita SW200) boasts a date wheel, a 4Hz frequency (equating to a smooth eight ticks per second) and a 38-hour power reserve.
It also has an in-built anti-shock system to maintain accuracy when faced with any sudden jolts.
RRP: £850 / $995
Spinnaker Dumas Blue Yonder
Read our full Spinnaker Dumas review
This isn’t the first Spinnaker watch I’ve tested, but it is the best. Based on a 1970s design, the octagonal case is distinctive and classy without being old fashioned.
It’s available in a range of colours from traditional black bezel and face through to funky yellow and orange faces. It’s fitted with either a mesh band or a more traditional linked bracelet.
The first thing you notice is the size and weight of this boating watch. At 44mm diameter, it’s no shrinking violet, but couple that with a case thickness of 15mm and you’ve got a substantial chunk of 316L quality stainless steel on your wrist.
Despite that, it wears well, and it looks brilliant. Highlights are the ‘3D’ effect of the raised indices and (on the Spinnaker Dumas Blue Yonder version I tried) the perfect denim blue hue of the dial offset by an orange-edged minute hand and stainless steel-edged hour hand.
The anti-reflective sapphire crystal glass is virtually scratch proof. It’s no Rolex, but for the money, it’s superb!
Elliot Brown Bloxworth
British manufacturer Elliot Brown takes its waterproofing to the next level – one test involved an Elliot Brown Bloxworth being left at the bottom of Poole Harbour for a few winter months. It survived unscathed and was still working when it was raised from the bottom of the sea floor.
That rugged waterproofing is thanks, in part, to the triple-sealed knurled 6.5mm crown and push buttons. The quality engineering is stand out; it has a hardened, anti-reflective mineral crystal face for clear visibility, there’s plenty of lume, making it legible, Swiss-made 13-jewel chronograph movement, and a three-year battery life encased in a marine-grade shock absorbent casing.
Looking for more affordable options? Check out Yachting World’s guide to the best sailing watches
Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated boating page for more marine products.
This article Best boating watches: 8 of the best quality timepieces for boaters appeared first on Motor Boat & Yachting.