The start of a regatta is pure adrenalin. You’re stooging around trying to keep your eyes on the imaginary starting line between the jury boat and the buoy, as well as on the other boats, and then there is a series of signals, for example one at five minutes from the start, signalled by raising or lowering flags on the jury boat and by a siren blast, and then one at one minute. Gradually the boats all magically converge and they’re heading towards the starting line, all anxiously watching their countdown chronometer and adjusting their speed so they won’t cross the starting line before the final start signal, but neither too long after. It’s tense enough at amateur levels, heaven knows what it’s like on an America’s Cup boat.
The Marine Regatta by Ulysse Nardin, presented at SIHH in Geneva in January 2017, is one of the few watches to provide a real countdown capability, perfect for a regatta. (See more regatta countdown chronograph watches here.) A hand with a yellow arrow tip is used to set the countdown, on a scale from 1 minute to ten minutes, on a yellow scale. It is set using the pusher at 10 o’clock. When you start the chronograph, the chronograph seconds hand starts running backwards, counterclockwise, and the countdown hand also moves backwards. When they both reach zero, the chronograph second hand automatically reverses, becoming a conventional chronograph. Simple and user-friendly. My video (unfortunately the watch is not shown vertically, sorry about that) gives an idea.
Two colour variants
The chronograph records time on a large subdial at 6 o’clock, with two hands for minutes and hours. There is also a circular window for the date. The case is large at 44 mm diameter, in stainless steel, water resistant to 100 metres, with a screw-down crown coated in rubber. The watch won’t have any problems with a bit of spray as you are crashing through the waves. There are two colour variants, ocean blue and white. The strap is in rubber with a titanium element and a folding buckle.
The watch is powered by the new calibre UN-155, based on the brand’s in-house calibre UN-153. It is self-winding, with a 3-day power reserve, and a silicium escapement and hairspring. The balance runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hertz). The number of components, 650, provides an idea of the amount of work that went into creating the countdown function.
The Marine Regatta by Ulysse Nardin costs €15,900. There is also a limited-edition version of 35 pieces with a decorative dial, €29,800. More from the Ulysse Nardin website.