Even though it’s been nearly four years since Peter Stas and his partner Aletta sold the business to the mighty Citizen Group, they still spend at least two days a week overseeing the entire Frederique Constant operation and deciding upon all the new creations.
While connected watches represent fully 15% of sales for FC, and is what helps the brand to keep afloat, Peter personally still feels a strong connection to the sea. So perhaps he can be forgiven for his latest indulgence, a new Yacht Timer collection comprising five new models.
Changes to the countdown system for yacht races were changed at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. With an increase in the number of boat categories over the years, the time for successive starts had become too long. It was therefore decided to reduce the intervening time gap from 5 – 10 to 3 – 6 minutes.
Introduced in 1997, the Frederique Constant Yacht Timer was the first watch to integrate these new racing rules. It was developed barely 10 years after the founding of the brand in 1988. Now, twenty-two years later, the Regatta has made a comeback to the FC collection.
The new Frederique Constant Yacht Timer collection is not merely inspired by a love of the sea but is designed to be a functional tool—a competition timer, operational in yacht racing conditions.
The Regatta Yacht Timer comes with a built-in timing mechanism that can count down the vital 5 or 10 minutes before the official start of a sailing race. Though the initial start structure shifted in 1996, many professional organizations maintained the 10-minute start until 2001. Some recreational/amateur organizations will still abide by the 10-minute start, and accordingly most regatta timers will maintain the ability to count down more than just 5 minutes. A bad start in yacht racing can be disastrous, and in many respects, the most important part of a yacht race unfolds in those 5-10 minutes before the action begins.
This is when sailors must maneuver their vessel into the best start position without overstepping the imaginary starting line or worse, hitting another boat before the starter’s gun. Such mistakes have been known to cost millions in fines in top races such as the Americas Cup. Proper boat control is paramount, and that control comes from a team effort and knowing when to anticipate the gun. It’s a game of tactics demanding a precision instrument that can be read at a glance since sails have to be raised and then lowered in order to hold the position as close to this line as possible.
A regatta watch is essentially a modified chronograph with a countdown timer, and at sea with strong sunlight and sometimes questionable weather conditions, good visibility is critical. The five circles at the top of the white dial remain white when the chronograph is not in use, but when activated with the 2 o’clock pusher, one by one they are filled with blue for the first five minutes and then orange for the next five minutes. The indexes of the watch are faceted so as to constantly display a shiny polished side that can be seen regardless of the angle of the sun, while the hands and indexes are filled with luminescent material for dull and overcast days.
Five New Models To Choose From
There are three models in the new 42mm Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown Collection: One is finished in rose gold with a navy-blue dial on a matching navy-blue alligator strap. The second features a blend of steel and rose gold on a two-tone bracelet. The third is in a monochromatic color scheme, with a steel case and silver-plated dial on a black alligator strap. Prices start at US$3,195.
There are also two new Yacht Timer GMTs with a second-time zone function. One features a rose gold-plated case with indexes and hands on a white grained dial and a brown alligator strap. And there’s bicolor steel and rose gold-plated steel bracelet variation finished in rose gold with grained anthracite dial. The watches also come with an extra rubber strap to take the rough and tumble of strenuous activities. Prices for the GMT version start $1,995.
Let’s be fair here—these things are mighty niche, and we know it. That said, a Regatta/Yachting Timer has its own practicalities in day-to-day life. People who like to cook or spend time in front of the BBQ (our EIC Justin Mastine-Frost, for one) find good use for a regatta timer when keeping an eye out for the perfect time interval on the grill or in the pot. Given the dressy design and leather straps on these models they’ll be less practical for things like interval training, but a more casual-wearing Regatta Timer on a rubber strap could also be turned practical during your workout routine too. There are far less practical complications out there—the moon phase, for example—so even though this complication might seem obscure at first glance, don’t discount it too quickly