The regatta timer is an uncommon complication, and with good reason: it serves a purpose so specific, and in such a rarefied environment, that very few of us even have an opportunity to see one, much less use one. Louis Vuitton, however, has created a regatta watch so delightfully different that it’s deserving of a place on the wrist of anyone capable of being charmed by mechanical ingenuity.
A little review for the non-yachtsmen among us: a regatta watch is designed to count down the critical minutes preceding the start of an actual yacht race. This interval–which can vary depending on the structure of the particular race, but which is often five minutes–is perhaps even more important than anything that happens once the starting gun actually goes off. It is during this five-minute period that yachts jockey for position near the starting line. A yacht, obviously, is not a racecar; it can’t sit still at the starting line until the beginning of the race, but must instead tack up and down as close to the starting line as possible without actually crossing it (which incurs a penalty) or colliding with another yacht. So critical are the minutes between the firing of the warning gun, which starts the countdown, and the firing of the starting gun, which commences the actual race, that in many cases the yacht that is first across the starting line is the one that’s first to cross the finish line as well.
Louis Vuitton has taken a remarkable approach in the design of the Tambour Spin Time Regate: the watch uses the rotating time cube design first used in its time-only “Spin Time” watch, in which revolving cubes placed around the circumference of the dial show the current hour.