“Hold it! Keep it on the top of the wave, watch the wave. Up one, mate, up one! Get ready for tacking. 3,2,1… Tacking now! Hold it steady, keep it above 8 (knots)!” Just a few sentences of command outed by America’s Cup winner Ray Davies aboard the RC44 Team Charisma race yacht. As I held on for dear life and tried not to get in the way of the crew of 8 and at the same time not topple off into the Scandinavian ocean, I also needed to check out the HYT H1 Air RC44. This special timepiece is developed to support and commemorate the RC44 Class.
To briefly explain what RC44 means, it is a sailing class developed by nautical legend Russel Coutts, the 5 times winner of the Americas Cup. This championship is one of the most prestigious challenges out there, only dwarfed by the Volvo Ocean Race. If you compare this to the RC44 class, it is considerably less prestigious but no less ambitious. Top locations, state of the art carbon fibre yachts and a mix of amateurs and professionals for each boat ensure enticing races. One of the key features of the class is that the boats are technically identical to each other. The only difference comes from the teams, the preparation of the boats and as it seems the quality of the sails.
Marstrand, a small picturesque island off the coast of Sweden (one of MANY islands in fact) was the location for the third RC44 event. Divided into two types of racing, match racing (one on one action) and fleet racing (all boats race simultaneously) there is plenty to see going on. I had the chance to join one of the teams during the race, which was an exuberant experience to say the least. Oh, and I had a HYT strapped on my wrist too. The entire 40 to 50 minutes of the last race of the day, I was straddled sideways on the edge of the boat. Briefing prior to the race was plain and simple: hold on, shut up and move with the crew from left to right.
HYT is the official timekeeper and partner of the RC44 class, and thus have developed a limited edition of their H1 Air to support the challengers: the HYT H1 Air RC44. This run of 22 watches, apparently already sold out, comes with some unique features. The most obvious one is the blue and grey case, a combination of titanium (Grey) and Alun 316B (Blue). Alun 316B is an aluminium composite that can be impregnated with any colour. Scratch it by accident, for instance by wearing it during a fleet race, and you won’t see blank steel underneath. The colour that is impregnated ensures a solid colour through and through. Having a case made of titanium and of an alloy based on aluminium, the watch feels very light on the wrist. It comes attached to a sailcloth strap and either with a pin-buckle or a folding clasp.
Another distinctive feature of the HYT H1 Air RC44 is the sapphire dial with a large aperture over the two bellows pushing the fluid through the capillary. The sapphire plate is tinted (smoked if you will) to partially hide the movement. The final feature to set it apart from other HYT H1 watches is the chapter plate cut from a single piece of carbon fibre, which includes the sub-dial for the minutes. Two cut-outs in the sapphire and carbon fibre plates allow for a view on the small seconds and the power reserve. The small seconds is displayed on a disc at 10 o’clock, with a nice little touch: the 44 mark in remembrance of the RC44 class it is dedicated to. To finish it off, the caseback is decorated with a silver figure “4” to mimic the steering wheels of the boats. The liquid wizardry HYT is known for remains unchanged though; the difference is purely in materials here.
The HYT H1 Air collection consists of two more models besides the RC44. There is a black H1 Air with smoked, pixelated pattern on the sapphire dial and a red gold edition with a skeleton plate and indexes in gold, covering the sapphire dial and blue liquid in the capillary. The HYT H1 Air RC44 is available in a run of 22 watches, and had (past tense, since it is sold out as mentioned) a price tag of 75.000 USD. For more information on the watch; HYT. For more information on the RC44 class; RC44.