This year after much anticipation the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions. Obviously, this was a massive blow for tourism especially in Tasmania that relies on this type of publicity. This would have been the 76th edition of the event that’s hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and first commenced in 1945. A few years ago, I visited Hobart’s Constitution Dock as part of a family holiday and the mood was electric. The current competition is hosted by Rolex, who now sponsor many major sports events. Their Yacht-Master II has appreciated massively since I reviewed it in 2013 and now retails for around $20,000. If you are looking for something with the same allure at a much more affordable price ($2,938) the Newport Regate from Michel Herbelin is definitely worth consideration.
The story of Michel Herbelin started in a small village called Charquemont, Haut-Doubs, on the French-Swiss border. Originally Michel was expected to join the family business but his passion for fine mechanics took him in a different direction. Michel began crafting watches under the name “Impec” in 1947 and then in the sixties traded under his own name. The company rapidly expanded and developed a reputation as a French specialist watchmaker. In the nineteen-eighties, Jean-Claude Herbelin took the helm and replaced his father at the head of the company. Presently, the business is still family-owned, which is refreshing change in an industry dominated by corporate groups.
I have been aware of Michel Herbelin for several years but have never featured their watches on Total Design Reviews. Fortunately, this all changed recently when I connected with Maxime Herbelin on business networking platform Linkedin. Maxime is a partner in the company and the grandson of the original founder. With a business degree and Master’s in communications, it seemed a natural progression for him to develop marketing strategies for Michel Herbelin. He has also digitalised the brand and expanded them exponentially on an international level. Presently the company has many best-selling models including the Newport Regate.
After several conversations with Maxime Herbelin, he very kindly agreed to send me a Newport Regate for review purposes. Certainly, when the timepiece arrived it massively exceeded my expectations. If you are a keen sailor or just love the aesthetic of nautical style watches you will absolutely love this model. With a diameter of 43.5mm, this timepiece is slightly smaller than Rolex’s Yacht-Master II. However, in my opinion, it is equally as striking and exceptionally well made. Features like the brushed steel bezel with five screws (modelled on yacht winches) and inscribed ‘Newport’ are very effective. The deep blue dial is also cohesive, with three small legible counters. I also love details like the oversized hour/minute hands, central lugs and discreet date window.
At the heart of the watch is a refined Swiss-made self-winding movement from reputable supplier Selita. The Calibre SW510 comprises 25-jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. This customised mechanism (“Michel Herbelin” text and Côtes de Genève pattern) is visibly showcased via the sapphire crystal exhibition case back. Functionally the Newport Regate features hours, minutes, 30-min counter (3 o’clock) 12-hour counter (6 o’clock), small seconds counter (9 o’clock) and date indication (4:30). The watch also has a power reserve of 45-hours and is water-resistant to a depth of 100-metres.
As a perfect finishing touch the timepiece is presented on a stylish blue FKM rubber strap (with complimentary brushed steel folding clasp) which is resistant to high and low temperatures and comes with a 10-year guarantee. For more information about Michel Herbelin and the superb Newport Regate follow this link