By Hallie Engel
For the 34th America’s Cup the R&D departments of TAG Heuer and Oracle Team USA co-invented an innovative smartwatch, providing every crew member with instant access to crucial race condition data in real-time.
Using special editions of the commercial Aquarace 500M Calibre 72 Countdown chronograph, every watch was customised for each sailor’s specific tasks and wirelessly linked directly to the boat’s onboard computers. The extreme-tech and resilient digital chronograph is also the first watch designed specifically for and by a professional sailing team. With an easy-to-read 51mm face, it weighs 108g and is impact resistant to 5000G. The leather-strap, like the case itself, is ergonomically designed to fit comfortably over a wet suit.
The optimised high-contrast LED screen displays constantly updated information on the behavior of the boat and its sails, including speed, foil balance, sail pressure, true wind speed, true wind direction and true wind angle. Connected to captors and computers located throughout the boat, the real time data stream allows for unparalleled reactivity and synchronicity.
To design the timepieces, TAG Heuer drew technical inspiration from its watch, eyewear and telephony activities. The Aquaracer 72 uses the brand’s patented splashproof technology, first used in TAG Heuer eyewear, and the data processing equipment onboard the 72-foot catamaran was waterproofed using technology developed for the iconic TAG Heuer Monaco chrono. For the watches worn by the team’s grinders, the sailors who handle the boat’s winches during the crucial pre-start and tacking duels, the brand developed a special "heads-up display" with polarizing lens based on TAG Heuer Eyewear-developed photochromic technology.
Only 50 of the special Aquaracer 72 watches were produced and none are available commercially. However, TAG Heuer is releasing limited edition version, similar to that worn in the race, titled the Aquaracer 500M Calibre 72 Countdown Automatic Chronograph 43 MM. Named after the official length of Oracle Team USA racing boat, it is stamped with the official Team US logo on the dial and is waterproof to 500 meters. The watch was also co-designed by TAG Heuer and Oracle Team USA and is the favorite of legendary skipper Jimmy Spithill and team’s CEO Sir Russell Coutts. With its unscratchable ceramic bezel, rubber coated pushers and screw-in crown, it is made to withstand the most extreme sailing conditions.