SwissWatchExpo Ultimate Guide to the Rolex Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II

The Rolex Yacht-Master collection pays homage to the brand’s connection to the world of sailing. Precision and dependability are vital for tools used in navigating open seas, and the Yacht-Master’s reliable, waterproof, and robust qualities make it the perfect timepiece for the sport.

While the original Rolex Yacht-Master is a stylish and ultra-luxe sport accessory for boating enthusiasts, the Yacht-Master II put together the best of Rolex technology to accurately time regatta races. Whether you’re lounging on a boat, or racing one, there is a Yacht-Master watch for you.

Learn more with SwissWatchExpo‘s Ultimate Guide to the Rolex Yacht-Master collection.

Rolex Yacht-Master II Rolesor Everose Gold Steel 116681

About the Rolex Yacht-Master Collection

The Rolex Yacht-Master is one of the brand’s youngest collections, having been introduced only 1992. And yet, it’s already one of their most diverse, with two distinct models under the family of watches, and dozens of permutations when it comes to dial designs, bezel styles, and bracelet options.

A look into its history shows that Rolex had plans for a yacht-themed watch decades before the Yacht-Master line was launched. Today, it’s a mainstay in the Rolex catalog.

Here are important milestones in the Rolex Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II history.

1958: Rolex entered a partnership with the prestigious New York Yacht Club, a social and boating club which sponsors an annual regatta.

1966: Rolex solidified its ties to the world of sailing when Francis Chichester – one of the world’s pioneering aviators and solo sailors – became the first person to sail around the globe while wearing a Rolex on his wrist. He sailed on his yacht, the Gipsy Moth IV, from August 1966 to May 1967, taking him 29,600 miles around the world.

1970s: Rolex never got around to creating a watch specifically for this category. The brand did make a prototype of the Cosmograph chronograph with the name “Yacht Master” on its dial, but they ultimately decided not to bring it to market.

1992: Rolex finally introduced the modern Yacht-Master – the brand’s first luxury sports watch built for the open seas. Whereas Rolex’s previous sports watches had utilitarian themes – the Submariner for diving, the Daytona for racing, and so on – the Yacht-Master was focused on aesthetics and luxury.

1994: Rolex introduces midsize and ladies’ models of the Yacht-Master

1996: Rolex introduces two-tone (steel and gold) midsize and ladies’ models of the Yacht-Master

1997: Rolex introduces the Rolesium version, which combines a steel body with a platinum bezel and dial. Until today the Rolesium is found exclusively in the Rolex Yacht-Master collection.

2007: Rolex releases the Yacht-Master II, which is the world’s first watch equipped with a programmable countdown timer and a mechanical memory. The Yacht-Master II was unlike anything Rolex had launched before. Not only was it massive with its 44mm case, but it also had a bold, visually striking design that stood out among Rolex’s catalog of versatile timepieces.

2019: Rolex introduces the Yacht-Master 42 to the collection. This is the first 42mm Yacht-Master model, offering a larger option for those who find 40mm too small. The first model came in 18k white gold, also a first for the collection, followed by an 18k gold version in 2022.


 

Key Features of the Rolex Yacht-Master

The Rolex Yacht-Master collection is composed of two families of watches: the original Yacht-Master, and the Yacht-Master II. While these two models have the same name, they are quite different from each other.

The Yacht-Master was introduced in 1992 as an ultra-luxurious sports watch for yachting and sailing enthusiasts. The nautical-inspired timepiece takes after the Rolex Submariner, but with greater emphasis on luxury materials and aesthetics.

The Yacht-Master II is a relatively new addition to the Rolex portfolio, introduced in 2007. Much larger that the Yacht-Master at 44mm, it is a purpose-built regatta watch equipped with a countdown timer for use in competitive sailing.

FEATURES OF THE ROLEX YACHTMASTER

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER DESIGN

Rolex Yacht-Master models come in an Oyster case with 100 meters of water resistance, a Triplock winding crown, and a bi-directional rotating bezel with raised 60-minute graduations and numerals. To make the watch easily readable, the dial features lume-filled round, baton, and triangular hour markers; luminous Mercedes-style hands, a date window at 3 o’clock, and a sapphire crystal with a Cyclops lens for easier reading of the date.

Since the introduction of the first all-gold Rolex Yacht-Master model in 1992, Rolex has expanded the line in terms of materials, aesthetic details, and mechanical upgrades. Here are the options available within the collection.


Rolex Yacht-Master Steel Yellow Gold Watches

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER SIZES

The Yacht-Master line is one of the most varied Rolex collections due mainly to the number of sizes made available. The smaller sizes, particularly the Lady Yacht-Master models, have been discontinued, but are still available in the pre-owned market.

29mm (discontinued)

35mm (discontinued)

37mm

40mm

42mm

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER MATERIALS

The solid 18k yellow gold and two-tone models of the Yacht-Master have been discontinued and replaced with the Everose and White Gold versions. The 37 and 40mm sizes come in Everose, Everose Rolesor, and Rolesium metals, while the 42mm comes exclusively in White Gold.

Yellow Gold (discontinued)

Yellow Rolesor (Steel and Yellow Gold – discontinued)

Everose Gold

Everose Rolesor (Steel and Everose Gold)

White Gold

Rolesium (Oystersteel and platinum)

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER BEZELS

The bezel material used for the Yacht-Master depends on the metal or alloy used for the case.

Matte Cerachrom bezel – 18k Everose and white gold models

18k Gold bezel – Rolesor steel and gold models

950 Platinum – Rolesium steel and platinum models

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER BRACELETS

The Rolex Yacht-Master has only been equipped with the three-link Oyster bracelet and the Oysterflex bracelet, which combines rubber with an internal flexible metal blade. The Oysterflex can only be found on the solid 18k Everose and white gold models with matte ceramic bezels.

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER MOVEMENTS

The Yacht-Master uses a time-and-date movement that changes depending on the size of the watch. Below are the movements used for each size.

29mm – Caliber 2135; Caliber 2235

35mm – Caliber 2135; Caliber 2235

37mm – Caliber 2236

40mm – Caliber 3135; Caliber 3235

42mm – Caliber 3235

FEATURES OF THE ROLEX YACHTMASTER II

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER II DESIGN

The Rolex Yacht-Master II is one of the brand’s largest watches. Each model comes with a 44mm Oyster case that is water resistant to 100 meters, a Triplock winding crown, a Ring Command Bezel, two chronograph pushers, and an Oyster bracelet.

It is also one of Rolex’s most complicated watches, as it features a regatta chronograph with a countdown that can be programmed from 1 to 10 minutes, allowing yacht racers to accurately time the start of a race. Furthermore, its Ring Command Bezel is more than just a decorative element – it operates in conjunction with the movement and is actually how the user can set the programmable countdown.

Rolex Yacht-Master II Rolesium and Everose Rolesor Models

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER II MATERIALS

All Rolex Yacht-Master II models come in the same 44mm case size. Models are available in the following metals:

Yellow Gold

White Gold and Platinum

Everose Rolesor (stainless steel and Everose gold)

Oystersteel

The materials used for the bezel differ depending on the material of the case. Below are the available configurations.

Cerachrom Bezel – Yellow Gold, Everose Rolesor, Oystersteel

950 Platinum – White Gold

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER II DIALS

The Yacht-Master II dial is unlike anything seen on other Rolex models because of its niche complication. It features a countdown display which can be programmed from 1 to 10 minutes, and read using the red-tipped arrow hand. Below the hour and minute hands at the center is a running seconds sub-dial. There’s also a red central chronograph hand, which can fly back or fly-forward to its starting position while in motion. It also features 12 square lume-filled hour markers.

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER II MOVEMENTS

The Yacht-Master II is equipped with two of Rolex’s most advanced movements to date, which feature a programmable countdown timer with mechanical memory, and chronograph synchronization.

Earlier models were powered by the 4160, and later models were upgraded to the 4161. The latter is based on the Daytona’s Caliber 4130, which features the same blue Parachrom hairspring for better switch resistance, and offer a 72-hour power reserve.

Ref 116689 – Caliber 4160; Caliber 4161

Ref 116688 – Caliber 4160; Caliber 4161

Ref 116681 – Caliber 4160; Caliber 4161

Ref 116680 – Caliber 4161
.


 

Popular Rolex Yacht-Master Models

The Rolex Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II are both excellent luxury watches that can suit any lifestyle. The Yacht-Master fits the mold of classic Rolex sports watches; while the Yacht-Master II has pushed the boundaries of what regatta watches can do. You can’t go wrong with the Rolex Yacht-Master, but here are some collector’s favorites:

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER with OYSTERFLEX BRACELET

In 2015, the Oysterflex, Rolex’s patented rubber bracelet, made its debut in the Yacht-Master collection. It’s appearance was also marked by several firsts: the first solid Everose gold Yacht-Master, paired with a matte dial and matte Cerachrom bezel.

The practical and edgy combination of solid gold and rubber continued with the release of the 18k white gold Yacht-Master 42 in 2019, and the 18k yellow gold version in 2022. This is a watch for someone who wants a luxurious watch that’s also ready for any adventure.

These models have the Calibre 3235 in place, which offers a 70-hour power reserve, and an upgraded Parachrom hairspring that has 10 times more precision than the traditional hairspring. The Calibre 3235 was also the first movement to receive Rolex’s certification as a Superlative Chronometer, and is regulated to a precision of an impressive -2/+2 seconds a day.

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER RHODIUM DIAL

The stunning combination of Oystersteel and 950 platinum was made even more beautiful with the addition of a sunburst rhodium dial. This luxurious watch is part of the series of Yachtmasters introduced in 2016, which were upgraded with the Caliber 3235 movement mentioned previously. The slate dial is paired with turquoise details on the model signature and seconds hand, which gives just the right amount of color on the sleek monochromatic design.

ROLEX YACHT-MASTER II STEEL EVEROSE GOLD

The highly specialized Yacht-Master II was created as a professional regatta watch which can also be used as a chronograph. On the bezel, it has large 0-10 scale numbers and the Yacht-Master II name. On the dial is a smaller version of this countdown. Together, these allow the wearer to select a countdown interval of anywhere from one to ten minutes.

Aside from being one of the most complicated watches in the Rolex portfolio, the Yacht-Master II also stood out because of its unique look, owing to its 44mm case and bold colors. The steel and 18k Everose gold version is a crowd favorite due to its eye-catching combination of rose gold, blue, and red hues.


 

Common Questions About the Rolex Yacht-Master

Built for the sea, but stylish enough for any occasion, the Rolex Yacht-Master is one of the most desired sports watches in the brand’s catalog. Here are some of the most common questions asked about the Rolex Yacht-Master.

WHAT IS A ROLEX YACHT-MASTER?

The Rolex Yacht-Master is a collection of watches built for yachting and sailing. It is composed of two families of watches: the Yacht-Master, a luxury watch designed to be worn on while lounging on a boat; and the Yacht-Master II, a functional sports watch designed to accurately time the start of a regatta race.

WHY IS THE ROLEX YACHT-MASTER SO EXPENSIVE?

As a line of sport watches with special focus on aesthetics, the Rolex Yacht-Master collection evokes an unmistakable sense of luxury than can only be achieved by using the finest materials.

The Rolex Yacht-Master II in particular, is equipped with exclusive functions and features such as the programmable countdown with mechanical memory and the Ring Command Bezel.

The architecture, manufacturing, and innovative features of the Yacht-Master collection make it unique in the world of watches and therefore fetches a higher price tag.

Rolex Yacht-Master Mother of Pearl Dials

HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY ROLEX YACHT-MASTER IS GENUINE?

A genuine Rolex watch will be beautifully finished and decorated in keeping with the brand’s uncompromising quality standards. If you see any sign of imperfection on the watch, such as misaligned or misspelled text, unfinished surfaces, or wrong engravings and markings, it is likely a fake.

It is always advisable to do research beforehand so you can check if the details on your watch is in tune with the model’s features.

We also advise clients to only purchase a watch from a reputable and trusted dealer, who can provide a guarantee of authenticity on the watch.

IS THE ROLEX YACHT-MASTER WATERPROOF?

Rolex Yacht-Master watches are guaranteed water resistant to a depth of 100 meters of 330 feet. The collection was not made specifically for diving, but they come with screw-down crowns and case backs, which protect the movement from moisture and dust that can be encountered with sporting use.


 

The Rolex Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II serve as the embodiment of the brand’s relationship with the world of sailing. Explore our collection of Rolex Yacht-Master watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.

 

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