The Frederique Constant Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown Sets Sail Again After A Two Decade Hiatus
A punchy and preppy watch with a regatta timer might not be a “need to have,” but it sure can be a “want to have.”
Frederique Constant first released its regatta timer watch as a family-owned business in 1997, created by Co-Founder Peter Stas to commemorate his love of sailing. Now, under the umbrella of its parent company, Citizen Group, the Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown is back some 22 years later as part of the Yacht Timer collection.
A Particular Complication
Unlike in motorsports where cars can assemble neatly in starting formation, boats must be in constant motion before the beginning of a race due to high winds and shifting seas. Thus, competing boats are allowed to move around and position themselves in the ten minutes before the race as long as they do not cross the imaginary start line drawn between two buoys.
Leading up to the race, there is one signal (often fired from a starting pistol) from race officials to begin the preliminary ten minutes and then another five-minute warning for the crews and then - BANG! - The regatta is officially underway. In this crucial ten-minute lead time, while the crew is frantically running around rigging sails and the like, they need to be able to see the remaining time quickly and clearly. Cue the FC Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown.
The five punchy dots centered at the top of the dial eclipse one-by-one to match the official race countdown - five minutes to transition from white to blue and five minutes to go from blue to orange. As to whether these watches will get much actual use in regattas remains to be seen, and in many ways, that’s beside the point. After all, there aren’t many active scuba divers or pilots among our ranks, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying tool watches. The effect of watching the gradual takeover across the dial from one color to the next is mesmerizing regardless of practical application.
Easy to See and Easy to Like
The main aim of this watch, aesthetically speaking, is maximum legibility. There's a high degree of contrast between the countdown timer at the top and the rest of the dial elements. The guilloché dial, in a hobnail-type pattern, is marketed as increasing visibility by catching the sun at any angle, and maybe it does. Still, at the least, it's a nice touch that solidifies the dress-chronograph vibe of this watch.
Underneath the enchanting, color-changing dots is the FC-380 movement (an ETA 7750 or Sellita equivalent, modified to include countdown function). The movement features a 48hr power reserve and is visible through an exhibition caseback, an appreciated addition on watches of all stripes that is slightly more satisfying here given the depth of the multi-layered movement.
The Yacht Timer Regatta in The Metal
At 42mm in diameter and a thick 42mm at that, the Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown feels substantial on the wrist, and maybe that's fitting for a maritime instrument like this. After all, an automatic movement with chronograph functionality in a water-resistant case does add up vertically. And with this depth and diameter comes a notable weight in the hand and on the wrist.
The pieces come in either stainless steel ($3,195) or rose gold-plate ($3,495) with an alligator strap and rubber strap coming standard and one version available on a two-tone steel and rose gold-plated bracelet.
With its hefty case and attention-grabbing countdown timer, the Yacht Timer Regatta Countdown might not qualify as an everyday watch, but it would make a strong contender for a go-to summer watch. This is not a t-shirt and jeans watch, nor is it quite a dress watch, rather the perfect pairing for a polo shirt and saltwater.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)