AQUASTAR REGATE YACHT TIMER WATCH
The world’s first Regatta Yachttimer wrist watch
Aquastar Regate Yacht Timer Watch. To those in the know, the name Aquastar is synonymous with diving watches, a brand made famous by the French diver, Jacques Cousteau. Aquastar led the way into the competition sailing market at the beginning of the 1960s, with their ‘Regate’ range of yacht timers. Other makes followed.
Until recently the Aquastar brand remained little known outside of the vintage diving watch collecting community. Today the brand is at long last achieving some fame, and underpins the collecting of ‘Regate’ watches.
Item description: This superb watch dates from 1964, and is a first generation ‘Regate’ manufactured by Aquastar. Typical large stainless steel case with crown bearing the full brand name Aquastar at the 2.00 position. The 5 second race countdown pusher is at the 4.00 position. The dial in a beautiful, silver sunray colour, and with the Aquastar brand name and logo. Applied battons at the 12, 3, 6, 9 positions.
The case-back with Aquastar’s special opening and closing section, requiring their own tool. The central part of the case-back with the full Aquastar name and logo, along with the model name (Regate) serial number, and model reference, ‘4000N’. To the inside, a fine Aquastar automatic branded 17 jewel movement. The watch completed with a new old stock rubber Tropic style strap with 1960s style stainless steel buckle.
Case size: 43mm x 33mm
Condition report: Close to mint condition, with just light use only. Case very good to excellent. Beautiful original dial with light aging to the luminous hour battons. Case-back with satined and polished finish, free from scratches, and with clear Aquastar details. Strap of new old stock dating to the 1960s. Fully functioning, and recently serviced. The ‘Regate’ 5 second countdown working perfectly, and graduating from red to white.. The timepiece may have been opened, so it should not be used near moisture or water without being checked by a qualified watchmaker. Hard to find the first generation Aquastar ‘Regate ‘4000N in this condition.
Background to Aquastar Regate: In 1961 JeanRichard SA had filed for a patent for a regatta watch with a 5 minute countdown function. This patent represents the “Birth Certificate” of the regatta yachttimer watches as we still know them today. Not long afterwards, Frédéric Robert (mentioned as inventor in the patent) developed the Aquastar Regate from this patent using a modified Felsa 4000N movement. This became the first Regatta Yachttimer wrist watch on the market, being launched in 1964.
How the Regate countdown function works: The manual wound Felsa 4000N movement with regate modification, has the crown to set the time at 2 o’clock and one pusher at 4 o’clock for start/reset. Under the dial lays the indicator disk coloured silver (as the dial) with a red section for counting the minutes. There are five round holes cut out of the dial, between 10 and 2 o’clock.
After a reset the five dots colour red and the sweep second hand return to 60 (0). By releasing the pusher the countdown timer starts and the sweep hand is set in motion counting the seconds backwards from 60 to zero. After one minute the first dot changes to silver, another four minutes to go. After 5 minutes all dots are silver and the regatta starts. The indicator disk stops but the second hand will continue to run as long as the movement is wound enough.
Background to Aquastar: Daniel Jeanrichard (1665-1741) remains a legendary figure in Swiss watchmaking, now considered the “founder of the watchmaking industry in the canton of Neuchâtel” in the late 17th century. Jeanrichard was born in the hamlet of Les Bressels, between the villages of La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle in the Swiss Jura. In 1681 Jeanrichard made his first watch (the first known watch made in the region) , and not long after established his own watchmaking workshop. The JEANRICHARD Museum in La Chaux-de-Fonds houses several of his most outstanding watches, including the so-called ‘Daniel’ watch made in 1710, a technical and aesthetic masterpiece with a calendar aperture.
By 1958 the Jeanrichard brand had been acquired by Frédéric Robert, an experienced scuba diver with a passion for creating watches for divers. Initial watches were branded ‘Jeanrichard Aquastar’, however, by 1962, he dropped the name Jean Richard, and simply named the company Aquastar. Although specialising in diver’s watches, the company expanded their range to include regatta watches for sailing, along with ranges for general water sports such as swimming and sailing. Aquastar were the first company to design and use a so-called lollipop seconds hand, and also invented the bidiagonal bezel, patenting a system where the bezel functioned inside the case, and operated from the winding crown.
An Aquastar was the first and only watch to be worn at the deepest dive ever made in history – the DeepSea Challenge, where divers descended to the Mariana Trench . The watch was worn by diver Don Walsh. However, Aquastars became particularly famous amongst the diving fraternity, when Jacques Cousteau and his team wore Aquastar diving watches, such as the Deepstar, and the Benthos 500, during their many filmed dives in the 1960s. Today, Aquastar watches are gaining recognition as important vintage diving watches, and values are rising.
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