Taking A Look At The Greatest Vintage Yachting Watches

Ben Adams
13 Jul , 2022

Trains and boats and planes…and cars. Most of the great watch companies have intersected with all these modes of transport; from station clocks to the cutting-edge of car design. And all these things are strangely interlinked and circular: steam-powered cars eventually gave rise to trains, but even before people started powering horseless carriages by steam, the very first ‘cars’ in the early half of the nineteenth century were in fact electric – touted as the way of the future now, nearly 200 years later.

The famous Mercedes three-pointed star points to land, sea, and air: all of which shared engines made by the German manufacturer. Heuer’s Autavia name signifies automotive and aviation.

 Image Credit: Balazs Ferenczi

The same multi-modal approach is true for watches, with the latest creation from FORZO enjoying a maritime influence that’s in no ways at odds with the brand’s automotive ethos.

Two important seafaring watches from the past have particularly influenced the new Yachting Blue Drive King. Abercrombie and Fitch may now be known as a fashion brand championed by impossibly thin and beautiful people, but it actually started life as a store that provided equipment for rugged outdoor pursuits – such as hiking and sailing.

One such piece of vital equipment was a watch, which is how Heuer – a renowned automotive brand – started making watches for Abercrombie and Fitch, under the Seafarer model name.

 Image Credit: Analog/Shift

Specifically designed for yachters, the Seafarer paved the way for others in its field due to its elegant look, cutting-edge innovations and usability. It featured a unique display for the ‘tide dial’, which took the place of the running seconds dial, using a slightly modified Valjoux movement.  The mechanics and ingenuity of the Seafarer are impressive on their own, but what makes the Seafarer stand out are the colourful ‘pennants’ on the face, perfectly reflecting its maritime heritage.

Several different designs and cases were used over the years (from the 1950s to the 1970s, when it was discontinued) but the Seafarer was always instantly recognisable.

That was one of the motifs we tried to incorporate. But it’s not just the Seafarer that has its history marked across the latest FORZO Drive King. Heuer’s Skipper is another influence; forming another landmark in the intersection between watches and water.

Image Credit: FORZO Watches

First created in 1968, the Skipper made its debut in a Carrera case, featuring a modified Valjoux 7730 movement. The Skipper was produced all the way until the mid-1980s and remains something of a cult watch today. With a deep metallic blue dial and multi-coloured right subdial, it’s another yachting timepiece that is instantly recognisable.

Again, the Skipper went through various iterations, at one point being sold in an Autavia case, while there were also various low-cost versions produced in the 1970s.

But the most valuable of them all is known as the ‘Skipperera’ – from the very first series (with the Carrera case) that was made in 1968. The colours reflect the colours of the American yacht ‘Intrepid’, which was defending its America’s Cup title that year.

 Image Credit: Fellows

The chronograph minute recorder was modified for regatta timing. Instead of the chronograph counting up to 30 minutes, the minute register counted down the 15 minutes from the sounding of the first horn to the moment when the competitors may cross the start line. Following the style of yacht timers, each five-minute segment had a distinctive colour, with the three segments of the Skipper being dark green, blue, and bright orange.

Less than 500 of those earliest Skippers were made, but the family resemblance lingered throughout the range; thanks to that distinctively multicoloured timer. With yachtsmen expected to keep their eyes on the sea at all times, these were watches designed for instant legibility, in order to have an accurate read on the timing of the competition.

 Image Credit: Menta Watches

Because that’s what racing is all about: measuring who is fastest. Whether you’re in a car, on a boat, or in the air is almost irrelevant…and this is why the colourful Yachting Blue has joined our Drive King range.

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