We asked an expert which are the cult nautical watches of the history of watchmaking. He chose seven of them: here are the ones.
Lives among the watches since childhood when his father Massimo was one of the most famous collectors in Milan. Today Federico Barracchia lives between Milan and Miami (where he sails regularly) following in his father’s footsteps and is one of the leading experts in watchmaking, author of several essays on the subject. We asked him what he thought were the cult nautical watches in the history of watchmaking. He chose seven of them. These, for him, are the icons of water sports watches and if it is true that you can also find them on the Internet Federico advises us: “From experience it is better to look for them on the sites of auction houses and pay attention to bins. They are beautiful, designed almost all between the ’60s and ’70s, still unmatched today, often the subject of replicas and “copying”.
If you’re a sailing enthusiast, then the classic Heuer chronograph of the 1970s will be right at the top of your wish list. Built to be used on the sea, the combination of blue and orange colors provides clear visibility at a glance, while the secondary dial with color-coded dial counts for 15 minutes for those who also go sailing in regattas. Today, the Skipper’s worthy heir is the TAG Heuer Aquaracer. The 1975 model is in the region of $6,000.
The Rolex Submariner is one of the most famous nautical watches in the world, still in production. So you can buy it brand new, but the beautiful blue and gold version 1991 has a charm and a style difficult to imitate. It has a 40 mm stainless steel case, a mineral glass dial and is water-resistant to 300 metres. The 1991 Rolex Submariner from 7 to 10,000 dollars.
If you are looking for something different with a great story, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watch is for you. Popular among divers, it has its origins in a special commission for military use. This, together with the luminous markers, dial and automatic movement makes this object very rare. Approximately $2,000 to $3,000.
Although initially developed with the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, with its chronograph and navigation instruments, the Breitling Navitimer was also widely used at sea. Presented in 1954, this high quality piece from the 1960s features a 40.5 mm 18K gold case, calfskin strap and an impressive black and white dial with black and gold numbering. The 1960 model is in the region of $6,500.
Although perhaps not the most famous name in marine watchmaking, the Aquastar Benthos of the 1960s was, in various versions, the most sought-after watch for sailors until the 1980s. The solid stainless steel case is water-resistant to a depth of 1,000 metres. The versions with coloured dots on the dial the last 5 minutes before the start of the regatta are also famous. About $3,000.
A diver underestimated this Vulcain Cricket Nautical. It was introduced in 1961 as a real underwater instrument, bringing the functionality of the mechanical alarm to a further step with the addition of decompression tables integrated directly into the dial. It was designed with the help of diver Hannes Keller who, at the time, held the deepest dive record (222 meters). The 16 holes on the back of the case made it possible for the alarm to be heard even at these depths. Produced in 15 years in countless versions, even with “optical” colors in the style of the 70s. It was relaunched in 2011. Prices from 3,000 to 6,000 dollars.
Oris Divers , was born fifty years ago and in the classic version remained in production until the end of the 90s. Characterized by the blue dial and retro-shaped indexes covered in Superluminova that give the dial a clear appearance and easy to read. Now it has been reissued in the Oris Sixty Five Divers version, which does not differ much from the original of the ’60s except that the vintage models have a diameter of 36 and the new ones are even larger, diameter 40 and 42. Today the Sixty Five Divers replica (pictured) is around $1,500.