Yachting has the wind in its sails with watchmakers, as we can see from the number of nautical partnerships that have sprung up in recent years. In honour of these alliances watchmakers are drawing inspiration from the world of ocean racing, to produce a diverse and varied selection of new watches, often in limited editions.
On the lake – Bol d’Or Mirabaud
The Bol d’Or Mirabaud, held for the first time in 1939, has become the world’s biggest inland regatta, connecting opposite ends of Lake Geneva: Geneva itself and Le Bouveret. It’s a major annual event for sailors, amateurs and professionals alike, with more than 500 boats expected to line up on the start, at 10 a.m. on 11 June, for a spectacular race. For the fourth year running Hublot is joining the party as Official Timekeeper. The watchmaker has always been close to the sea and sailing (its name means “porthole” in French), and this is reflected in the shape of its watches and through cooperation with institutions such as the Oceanographic Museum and Institute in Monaco. Every year since 2013, when its partnership with the Bol d’Or Mirabaud was first announced, Hublot has brought out a limited edition in honour of the regatta. The 2016 edition has yet to be unveiled
At sea – Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge
Hundreds of classic and vintage sailing boats take part every year in the Classic Yachts Challenge, which Panerai has sponsored for the last 11 years. From April to September this colourful competition sees competing boats face off in ten regattas on two different international circuits, from the crystal-clear waters of the Antilles to the breathtaking shorescapes of the Mediterranean. On the starting line is a Panerai boat, the Eilean, built in 1936 and bought a few years ago by the Florentine watchmaker. As well as competing for trophies, the owners of these distinguished ocean racers are vying for the exclusive Panerai watches reserved for the winners of each regatta.
Louis Vuitton has been associated with the America’s Cup for a number of years, in a partnership of audacity and excellence. For the legendary contest’s 35th edition, the Maison Louis Vuitton is taking the relationship further by becoming the title sponsor of the America’s Cup World Series, the qualification and playoff series, and by presenting the competition’s final. With their AC45s (one-design catamarans driven by a rigid wingsail or foil), five pretenders to the America’s Cup join defending champion Oracle Team USA on the start line: Emirates Team New Zealand, Artemis Racing (Sweden), Land Rover Bar Racing (Great Britain), SoftBank Team Japan and Groupama Team France. The next leg of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series takes place in Chicago from 10 to 12 June. The 35th America’s Cup kicks off in 2017 in Bermuda, when defender Oracle will face the challenger that emerges from the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. The winning team will be given the legendary sterling silver water ewer, presented in a case specially designed by Louis Vuitton.
Again, the Gumball 3000 script logo acts as the background to the running seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock, but it appears much less in mind on this version. This is a result of the bi-chromatic colour scheme that drops out the reddish quarter markers and seconds hand in the first watch. We are left, instead, using a black and white affair that evades scrutiny much more effectively. The opinion isalso my opinion, better searching for the shift, but it will call into question that this model’s success as an advert for the partnership between Armin Strom and the Rally.The script logo does look again on the reverse, dominating the left hand side of the movement, which is observable through a sapphire case back. Each of the crystals in this group (both front and back) are sapphire and handled with anti-reflective coating. In addition to the large logo engraving on the flip-side, the ARM12-GB calibre shows the balance wheel in precisely the exact same manner as its child brother. Hopefully, that feature will placate those who locate the Gumball engraving somewhat too crass to stomach.All three watches operate in 18,000vph. It’s a slow working speed, meaning the watches would take more time to recover their timekeeping ability following a shock, but the true benefit is that the visual effect of a slow-swinging balance — and an elongated power reserve. When the balance wheel is indeed attractive, it’s wonderful to introduce it to the wearer at a digestible manner. And of those three, the one that offers the most in the way of visual pleasure, is the third and final watch of this Armin Strom Gumball 3000 Collection.The Armin Strom Tourbillon Gumball 3000 in 18ct rose gold is your daddy of the range. In the front, it’s the least obviously associated with the Gumball 3000 Rally, with only a gilded engraving around the edge of the 9 o’clock sub-dial from the Armin Strom font. In this instance, though, the sub-dial features more than simply the going moments hand — here we can observe a superbly executed tourbillon cage, rotating for all the world to see.
The 35th America’s Cup has also witnessed another historic partnership: Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin is the sponsor of Artemis Racing, the challenger from Sweden’s Royal Yacht Club. The marriage has produced its first offspring: the Marine Diver Artemis Racing, and its brother the FreakWing, inspired by a number of the most distinctive features of the Swedish team’s high-tech AC45 catamaran. The upper bridge for the minutes is mirrors the internal structure of the rigid sail, the texture of the rotating hours disc evokes the mesh net of the multihull, and the bezel and case back are forged from carbon fibre, an element that is omnipresent in high-level sailing.
Zenith is also known for its commitment to sailing, as official timekeeper for the Spindrift Racing team, led by skippers Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard. The Zenith El Primero Stratos Spindrift Racing is technical, driven, and modern, just like the Spindrift Racing team. On the dial of the timepiece at 10 o’clock is an opening onto the escapement, which reveals the beautiful mechanisms inside. Another feature of the model is the legend “Spindrift Racing” struck on the inside of the chapter ring that bears the telemetric scale.
More recently, Raymond Weil announced it was pairing up with young Swiss team Realtime for the 2016 season of the D35 Trophy on Lake Geneva, and the GC32 international racing tour. To seal the partnership the company has unveiled a new Freelancer, a 42.5 mm watch available in polished steel or with black PVD coating, which is reminiscent of the dynamic styling and aesthetic codes of dive watches.
Another brand, another GC32 Tour team: Armin Strom Watches Review Replica and… the Armin Strom Sailing Team. The tribute model created for the Swiss team is the Skeleton Pure Earth, whose black and orange accents reflect the racing livery of the Armin Strom Sailing Team’s GC32. In July the independent brand is expected to unveil a new timepiece inspired by the nautical world.
Alinghi, darling of the Swiss, is supported by high-tech brand HYT, which has designed two new models in honour of Ernesto Bertarelli’s team. The H4 Alinghi is equipped with its own light source, under the rider at 6 o’clock, where HYT has concealed two LEDs. When switched on, they light up the entire dial. At night, the red fluid is activated by the light source and becomes perfectly visible. At the same time, the flood of light illuminates every corner of the movement, bringing its skeletonised architecture to life. To celebrate its second year with the Swiss team, HYT launched the latest H2 Alinghi in May. This is the first H2 to feature a solid titanium case, as well as its new black fluid, unveiled at the beginning of the year.