New Frederique Constantin Yacht Timer

Frederic Constantin Yacht Timer

Complications are complicated. I’m not talking about the engineering behind a timepiece that accurately displays the date for the next 1,480 years (leap years included). I’m talking about the market for watch complications. Who the hell needs the Frederique Constantin Yacht Timer, a watch that counts down the crucial 10 minutes before a sailboat race? For one . . .

people who race sailboats. Well not all of them. The captain. The rest of the crew are busy doing what he or she tells them.

And when I say “she,” I’m not pandering. There are plenty of female yachtspersons, as Yachting & Boating World reveals. And I bet few  XX-chromosomed captains wear a downsized “woman’s” watch.

Even so, the number of people clamoring for a five-dot yacht racing watch complication has got to be a lot smaller — and lets’s face it a lot whiter and wealthier — than the market for, say, a horseshoe throwing-specific watch complication.

Then again, who “needs” tachymetre markers circumnavigating their watch dial? In case you’re one of the 98 percent of watch buyers who don’t know what it is or does, here’s‘s helpful explanation:

The tachymetre is a tool designed for measuring speed; specifically, the average speed of an object traveling over a known distance; e.g., the speed of a car as it travels over a mile. Or the speed of a yacht as it sails past buoys a half a kilometre apart.

Wait. So yachtsfolk need to count down the ten-minute pre-race interval and measure the speed of their boat between buoys?

Yachtizens don’t need no stinkin’ tachymetre! And that’s because they wear these things call smartwatches, waterproof and shockproof AF, complete with a countdown timer, interval timer, GPS tracking, barometer, heart rate monitor and dockside restaurant recommendations.

Frederic Constantin Yacht Timer dial

Truth be told, the new Frederic Constantin Yacht Timer is about style, not functionality. FC is looking to lure non-sailing watch buyers who want to project a sailing vibe, like non-divers wearing diving watches.

Yes, well, outside of sailors — and maybe even them — who would look at someone wearing this watch, recognize the complication and think, “I wonder if he/she/they race sailboats?” Personally, if I was wearing a FCYT at the yacht club and someone asked me to explain the dots, I’d straight up tell them: it’s a Tanqueray and tonic interval timer.

Anyway, FC decided now’s the time to resurrect the Yacht Timer from the year mad cow disease made it impossible for me to donate blood (1997). Only the new Yacht Timer ain’t exactly like the old Yacht Timer.

At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the Olympic Committee changed the countdown system for starting yacht races. With an increase in the number of boat categories over the years, the time for successive starts had become too long. So it was decided to reduce the intervening time gap from 5 – 10 to 3 – 6 minutes. The Frederique Constant Yacht Timer  was the first watch to integrate these new racing rules.

Old Frederique Constantin Yacht Timers

Frederique Constant developed their new Yacht Timer quartz movement together with Herbert Derksen of Tack and Gybe International (TNG), the former helmsman of the Dutch Olympic team’s Tornado sailboat. It is fitted with a countdown function that can be set at 10, 6, 5 or 3 minutes, shown by the coloured balls as the earlier automatic regatta movements have. The countdown it is also audible.

Sailing watches

Nope. The new Frederique Constantin Yacht Timer doesn’t do that variable countdown and audible notification thing. But there is a second time zone GMT version.

The new FCYT isn’t anything as practical downmarket as quartz. It’s powered by the Swiss watchmaker’s in-house FC-380 automatic movement. It’s available in rose gold or rose gold-plated polished stainless steel, housed in an exhibition case back, water resistant to a not-so-astounding 10 ATM. Either watch can be yours for $3,495.

Fred's sailing watch

As much as I diss watches for unnecessary complications — to the point where “date windows must die” is tattooed on my right shoulder — when it comes to making money on a mechanical watch, style eats function for lunch. And if FC reckons a watch juggling balls on its dial is the Next Big Thing, well, it’s not like it’s the only timepiece that tried that approach.

TBF, I’m sure ONE sailor SOMEWHERE will use this watch during an ACTUAL sailboat race. If only because he or she will be paid to do so.

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