As anyone who loves fine timepieces knows, there is no shortage of nautically themed watches available today. Many exclusive brands produce exquisite watches that can trace their nautical roots back many generations. And we all know that there’s no shortage of well-heeled customers who always buy the best. 

But if you’re a serious racing sailor, the watch you really covet is not for sale. You have to win it. That’s just one of the many reasons why Rolex watches are so special to a certain breed of sailor. Because to win a rare Rolex, you have to beat the best sailors in the world at one of 15 prestigious yacht races like the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Rolex Fastnet Race, and Giraglia Rolex Cup the company sponsors each year.

The brand also has close relationships with the world’s most prestigious yacht clubs, including Yacht Club Italiano, New York Yacht Club, and the Royal Yacht Squadron, further cementing the tie between sailors and their prized watches.

Over 200 yachts competed in this summer’s 2017 Giraglia Rolex Cup, organized by Yacht Club Italiano in collaboration the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, but only the owners of the top two boats won an engraved Submariner (pictured above): Vadim Yakimenko’s TP52 won the overall trophy while Dieter Schön’s Maxi 72 won line honors.

That’s what makes these particular watches so exclusive. Anyone can buy a fine watch. But only an elite few can win one. 

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Image Credits: Photo by Carlo Borlenghi/Courtesy of Rolex.