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You’ve waited patiently all winter and sailing season is finally here. You’ve been updating your outfits, cleaning your gear, and wondering where your tan went from last summer.
Needless-to-say, you’re ready to get out and sail with friends and family.
There are a few items that separate seasoned sailors from amateurs. These include proper deck shoes, a Tilly hat, and polarized sunglasses. But don’t forget the statement a sailing watch will make.
Not only does a sailing watch look cool, but it also serves a valuable purpose and much more than just the time. The best watches for sailing can help with tides, GPS, racing, and navigation.
If you or a family member is serious about sailing, a watch is a perfect accessory. In this article, I’ll share the 8 best watches for sailing. In addition, I’ll share a few things to look for when comparing sailing watches.
Important Characteristics: Best Watches For Sailing
A high-quality watch for sailing needs to be waterproof to a certain depth. While sailing, you’ll encounter various conditions. Wind, rain, and waves will all impact you on your boat.
You should expect the best sailing watches to be water resistant to 100 meters, or 330 feet. Swimming and snorkeling should be fine but scuba diving is not advisable.
Low Profile Design
Most people prefer a watch that has a low profile design. These watches are less bulky, appear sleek, and are lightweight.
You’ll be active on a sailboat and don’t want to constantly hit a bulky watch against surfaces when you’re working or have it caught on a rope.
GPS, Tide, Timer, Compass, Barometer, Altimeter
Extras are fun to have on a watch. Most watches these days have a timer, however, the best sailing watches may include GPS capabilities (through satellites), tide trackers, and a compass.
Most sailing watches will have one or more of these options. Prioritize which features you need and check the watch options provided below.
Digital or Analog / Quartz (battery) or Mechanical (wound)
There’s been a big shift over the years to digital watches. They can provide more numbers on the fact of the watch and advances capabilities for alarms, calendars, and timers.
Analog watches continue to be praised for their craftsmanship, precision, and style.
Rather than consider a watch as digital or analog, it’s just as important to think about a battery powered watch (quartz) or a hand-wound watch (mechanical).
Digital will almost always be battery powered while analog can be both – this is important to understand.
Your sailing watch also needs to be durable. Durability should be associated with quality. A thick outer cover is helpful – Times and Casio often use rubber frames to protect their watches but stainless steel provides great protection as well.
If you buy from a reputable brand then you can count on your watch being durable in all sailing conditions.
7 Best Watches For Sailing
#1 Suunto Traverse – Sailing Watch
Sunnto hasn’t always been associated with sailing but they should be. They’re a world-renowned Scandinavian watch company that specializes in outdoor adventure.
They began in Finland in 1936 and have steadily grown to be a leader in precision instruments.
Hiking, diving, and sailing are words associated with Suunto and this watch, the Traverse is made for someone on the go.
- GPS capabilities with satellite navigation (upload routes)
- Distance and altitude statistics
- Barometric trends for weather changes
- Sunrise and sunset times
- Smartphone compatible
- Timers and alarms
- Water resistant 100 meters (330 feet)
- 2 year warranty
- Rechargeable (lasts 3 days for GPS and 10-12 days for only time)
I really the like style of this watch and its capabilities. You likely won’t use all the extra options but they’re still nice to have.
Most sailors keep a backup GPS tracker on their boat – this watch will help with that (check Suunto sailing watch on Amazon).
What I don’t like is the fact it’s rechargeable. If you’re at sea for long periods at a time, you might find it a hassle to take off and charge every week, however, if you’re someone who likes the extras this watch provides, it will be a good digital option for sailing.
#2 Timex Intelligent Quartz Tide, Temperature, Compass Watch
Timex is a well-respected watch brand based in America. They focus on reasonably priced, long-lasting watches.
This option is a beautiful quartz (battery) analog watch that will provide you with much more than just the time.
- Analog w/ battery
- Black with red accents
- Indiglo nightlight
- Digital compass
- Tide tracker
- Air and water temperature
- Silicone band
- Water resistant to 100 meters (330 feet)
One look at this watch and it’s easy to tell it was made for sailing. I usually prefer the look on analog watches – it gives a more classy feel which goes well with sailing (check Timex Intelligent Tide on Amazon).
The extras of the compass, tide tracker, and air and water temperature are a nice option to have while out on the water. A number of reviews are from sailors who appreciate the tide tracker and the comfort of the watch. It comes at a great price for such a good looking watch and plenty of extras (it looks much more expensive than the listed price).
#3 Casio Men’s Pro Trek Solar Watch (digital)
If you liked the Timex option but prefer a digital watch, this Casio version might be the one. It also tracks the tide and moon age.
This Casio offers more water protection as well, with 200 meters (660 feet) of water resistance.
- Solar charged battery (digital)
- 200 meters water resistant
- Tide graph
- Moon data
- Compass, Altimeter, Barometer, Thermometer
- Backlight, alarms, and stopwatch
- Charged battery lasts 5 months without sunlight exposure
- 1 year warranty
This watch has a larger profile, which makes it a bit bulky but also quite durable. Reviews mention the solar charged battery will work for years (one person 25 years).
The watch has an emphasis on tides (shown on screen) so if you want to use it on land, it may be a distraction (check Casio Pro Trek price on Amazon).
Overall, this is a watch that will last a long time and it provides the detail you’ll need for sailing. I like the watch though it comes at a price.
#4 Nautica Men’s Quartz Resin Silicone Watch
Nautica is known for it’s sailing sports and leisure wear. They also make nice watches that stay true to the sailing theme.
With this watch, you’re buying a sailing brand and a fashionable timepiece.
- Sporty silicone band
- Analog watch (battery powered)
- Water resistant to 100 meters
- Stainless steel frame
- Date display
This Nautica doesn’t have all the extra measurements that you’ll find on other sailing watches, but it does have style. It comes in a number of colors to fit the look you desire (I like the blue background and strap) (check Nautica resin sailing watch on Amazon).
It’s a very popular watch and most customers appear to buy it because of the look rather than the function.
Depending on your needs, this watch could be perfect for your next sailing adventure.
#5 Timex Intelligent Quartz Yacht Racer
I like the look of this sailing watch! Both color options (red and black) are bright yet still classy. It has a “Yacht Racing Mode” that provides a countdown time to the start of the race and counts up to the time of finish.
- Analog with battery
- Perfect date feature
- Yacht racing mode
- Multi-layered dial, resin pushers
- Great looking
- Well-respected brand
Similar to the Nautica watch on our list, this Timex offers simple features in a stylish watch. You won’t get GPS or tide graphics on this watch, but you’ll get plenty of compliments on the design and look of it (check Timex Intelligent Racer watch on Amazon).
If you want a watch that keeps time and looks great, the Timex Intelligent Quartz offers a sleek, straightforward watch.
#6 Garmin Quatix NMEA Marine GPS Watch
Garmin is a leader in GPS. They use their own satellites to help travelers navigate anywhere on the globe. Have you ever used your phone for GPS and lost your location because you didn’t have cell service?
Don’t worry about that with Garmin. Even at sea, satellites will help you find your way. It comes with two bands, screws, torx tool, USB/Charger cable, and an AC adapter.
- Marine GPS
- Includes altimeter, barometer, 3-axis compass
- Waterproof to 50 meters (165 feet)
- Sail racing features (virtual starting, countdown timer)
- Tide charts
Garmin offers this watch as a similar option to the Suunto mentioned earlier. They are both great companies with plenty of extras, however, I’d give preference to Suunto (check Garmin Marine watch on Amazon).
One fun thing about this watch is it can be paired tot eh NMEA transceiver and steam NMEA data, such as wind speed, direction, water depth – all on your wrist.
It can also be paired with “HomePort” to review and plan data at home. Very cool capabilities.
#7 Ronstan Clear Start 50mm Sailing Watch
If you know sailing, you know the Ronstan Company. They make much more than just watches, including all those small items you need on your boat (turnbuckles, ropeglides, core blocks, and continuous line furlers).
This watch is a simple, comfortable, yet durable watch perfect for timing your races.
- Race mode features
- Multiple start sequences
- Synchronization function
- Multi-line display
- Loud countdown
- Separate fast access race and time scrolling
- Digital and shock resistant design
This watch is the for the racer who needs an sailing watch that is durable and reliable. It’s the most inexpensive watch on our list and comes at a great price (check Ronstan sailing watch on Amazon).
Whether it’s for work or leisure, getting a watch for sailing a wise decision to make. Some sailing watches have GPS capability, while others show the tide and moon.
There are also more basic sailing watches that have racing in mind (think stopwatch).
In this article, we looked at a few different types of watches. All on the options on this list operate from a battery. One of the watches used solar to recharge the battery.
I prefer watches with an analog display (hour and minute hands). They have a classy look compared to digital displays, however, sometimes they have fewer options (alarms, calendars, and GPS).
Sailing is a serious activity with a strong culture. Others will notice the watch you choose and it will show them your preference for style or function – do yourself a favor and choose a sailing watch that has both characteristics!
Thanks for reading another Beach Life blog post. We cover all things on the beach and in the water!