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Marion wrote: I am a sea lover. Seems to be an interesting cruise. david martin Abrahams would love to travel on it.

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Chronographs, multi-times, diamond accents, or fully encrusted cases... the list is nearly endless

From fashion statements to state-of-the-art functionality, watches are one of the hottest accessories of the year. Luxury timepieces make an instant impression and, in some cases, can even save boaters' lives!

Nautical timekeeping and navigation have come a long way since hourglasses hung from the rafters in old-time sailing ships and captains gazed at the stars through telescopes. Today's personal timepieces not only tell you the exact millisecond, but they function as compasses, stopwatches, and even a beacon to summon rescuers! Above all, they command attention as pieces of luxury jewelry, and send out a strong message: watches have become a major status symbol.

According to Tourneau's senior vice president of marketing, Andrew Block, the luxury watch market is booming, thanks to the introduction of new brands and new styles as well as significant investments in marketing and brand positioning. He says it is no longer out of the question for a consumer to spend more than $10,000 on a watch because the timepiece has become as great a status symbol as the car.


"Consumers are much more savvy and educated these days and they are willing to pay more for complicated models and multifunction timepieces," says Block. "Overall, there's an increasing number of watch collectors, some who prefer serious timepieces and others who simply want fashion. Since watches are now widely accepted as a fashion accessory and the only jewelry item for men other than their wedding ring, there is an increased tendency for consumers to buy/own more than one."

At Tourneau, they can choose from more than 8,000 unique styles ranging in price from $250 to upwards of $1,000,000. Core master brands include Cartier, Breguet, Patek Philippe, and Panerai.

Block notes that there are some distinct trends in today's marketplace. "On the men's side of the business," he says, "we are seeing a lot of larger-faced watches that exceed 42mm. There has also been an increase in consumer demand for complicated models - multifunction timepieces as well as watches with diamonds on the outside."

Some watches have particular appeal to yachtsmen (see sidebar). Block says many choose a sportier, diving style watch that will do well on the water, such as an Omega or a Breitling. In fact, Breitling's Emergency watch has become popular among boaters because it is a technically advanced sports watch that comes complete with a beacon to summon rescuers (buyers must sign a waiver absolving the manufacturer of responsibility if the beacon is set off accidentally and the Coast Guard shows up!).

Most Popular Styles
 One of Tourneau's most popular men's watches is their Limited Edition Gotham Chronograph (see photo), the signature timepiece in Tourneau's new Horologie Collection. The handsome stainless-steel Gotham features a four-level, hand-decorated, deco-style dial and a sapphire crystal exhibition case back, which allows the wearer to view the sophisticated works. Limited to 100 pieces, it retails for $3,295.

 Another stunning men's watch, says Block, is Tourneau's new Kittyhawk Chronograph (see photo), a numbered, limited edition of 99 pieces in blue and 99 in black. It retails for $2,495.

For women, Block says, it's difficult to beat Tourneau's Diva (see photo), which comes complete with a diamond-encrusted platinum case and bracelet with a cushion-shaped, mother-of-pearl dial. No two Divas are exactly alike, except for the retail price: $87,500.

Feel free to take a Diva aboard though - the case is water-resistant.

SOS: When It's an Emergency
What could be more comforting to boaters than knowing they can summon help in an instant? Breitling's Emergency watch, equipped with a tiny transmitter that can be activated in an emergency to broadcast on the international distress frequency, was originally intended for the aeronautical industry, but has found a strong market with boaters.

The FAA and FCC granted approval for sale in the U.S. of the Breitling Emergency wrist instrument, a multifunction chronograph plus micro-transmitter that enables close-range location of pilots or passengers after an air crash or forced landing. While the watch was initially available for sale only to certified pilots, this restriction was lifted in the fall of 2001, making it a popular choice of boaters.

 The Emergency line of watches features several styles, including the Emergency and the Emergency Mission. The basic difference between the two is the styling of the watch; the transmitter function is the same. Prices for the Emergency start at $4,000 on a diver pro strap and $4,400 on a titanium bracelet. The all-gold version on a bracelet (see photo) is $25,500. The Emergency Mission is constructed in steel, and dials are available in white, black, and blue. Prices range from $4,675 for all steel on a diver pro, to $5,250 for a two-tone version on a bracelet.

Especially for the Yachting Crowd
 Another Breitling watch, the Chrono Avenger M1, has a feature designed especially for yachters (see photo). A 10-minute countdown feature ticks down the crucial prep time before a regatta begins. Usually, before the start of a race, a horn is blown to indicate the 10-minute start time; this is when the chronograph is activated. The yachting version is available with white, blue, and black dials. Prices range from $2,725 on a diver pro strap to $3,125 on a titanium bracelet.

And you're off!

About Jamie Matusow
Jamie Matusow is a freelance writer based in New York. She was the long time managing editor of legendary Yacht Vacations & Charters Magazine. Jamie traveled extensively throughout Mediterranean, Caribean, and the Bahamas where she filed many of her charter stories.

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