The Rolex Yachtmaster is forged out of the nautical ties that the brand has to the world of sailing. It’s both stylish and functional, which perfectly suit the needs of the yachting community. Of course, it can be a great watch even for those who’ve never set out to sea in their life. Though it first made its debut in the 1990s, this Rolex has all the classic elegance of older models and modern features to boot.
The Rolex Yachtmaster is complete with all the necessities required for a watch that sailors would need including water resistance of up to 100 meters. There’s also a screw-down, Triplock, and water-resistant crown system plus a rotatable bidirectional 60-minute bezel to round out the marine spirit of this watch. Here’s a 101 on the Rolex Yachtmaster.
A Short History of the Rolex Yachtmaster
Though the first Yachtmaster was manufactured in 1992, Rolex itself has had ties to the yachting industry since the 1960s. The high standard that Rolex maintains in its designs naturally pairs with what sailors need. British Sailor Sir Francis Chichester left for the high seas in 1966 and wore a Rolex Oyster Perpetual survived his 226-day boating trip. This began the longstanding ties between boating and Rolex. Even today, Rolex upholds that yachting and yacht clubs are a key component to the future of sailing.
Rolex doesn’t introduce new models that often. The Yachtmaster came out 28 whole years after the company launched the Rolex Daytona in 1964. This slow pace isn’t a bad thing though. It simply means that Rolex is committed to quality.
Once out in the world, the Rolex Yachtmaster has had a few recreations throughout the years:
1992 – Reference 16628 was the first Rolex Yachtmaster with no options for customization. It came in an 18-karat gold case, and even back then it had up to 100 meters of water resistance. The Oyster case, graduated bezel, and mix of round, baton and triangular hour markers resemble the Submariner closely, but Rolex positioned the Yachtmaster as a more opulent timepiece. To emphasize this, some editions of the ref 16628 were offered with a mother of pearl dial, as well as ruby, sapphire, and onyx-set hour markers.
1994 – Reference 68628 was smaller than the first Yachtmaster. Instead of a 40mm case, it featured a 35mm case. They also introduced a style created just for women, which was even more compact with a 29mm case.
1999 – Though Rolex made some changes in 1994, their first major ones came out this year. The brand had metals combined specially for the Yachtmaster. Maintaining its quality brand identity, this combination of metals that Rolex did of oyster steel and platinum is now known as Rolesium. They continued offering all the sizes from previous years including 40mm, 35mm, and 29mm cases for each new Rolex Yachtmaster.
2005 – Starting in 2005, Rolex offered two-toned versions of its famous Yachtmaster. These included 18-karat yellow gold and stainless steel. It was an added pop of style to the already elegant and sporty Yachtmaster.
2012 – Rolex phased out the smaller Rolesium models and upgraded it to the ref 116622. This range measures 40mm, and comes in contemporary slate gray, blue, and sandblasted platinum dials. The bracelet clasp was updated with the Easylink extension system, while the luminous hour markers were upgraded to longer-lasting blue Chromalight.
2015 – The new reference 116655 became the first Rolex Yachtmaster in solid 18k Everose gold. The case is combined with a contrasting matte black dial and matte Cerachrom bezel. Rolex also incorporated a rubber strap known as the Oysterflex bracelet, which has nickel and titanium inserts that provide the durability of a steel bracelet. All these elements gave a nice sleek and dark design to the Yachtmaster.
2019 – The Yachtmaster is first made available in a 42mm size, and in solid 18k white gold.
2022 – The Yachtmaster 42 is introduced in an 18k yellow gold edition, in addition to the previous white gold model. A limited edition ref 116680 is introduced, with a white gold case and 46 sapphires and diamonds in tones of blue, silver, and pink on the bezel.
Key Features of the Rolex Yachtmaster
The primary key feature in the Yachtmaster relates to boating, of course. The design of the bezel allows skippers to easily gauge sailing time between two buoys. Anything that can help sailors is beneficial, and the 60-minute bidirectional, rotatable bezel on the Yachtmaster does just that. The water-resistant Triplock crown has also been a key feature of the Yachtmaster since its inception.
As you can see from its history, the sizing of the Yachmaster has evolved through the years. For quite a few years, the only size available for the Yachtmaster was 40mm. Eventually they developed the watch to have 29mm and 35mm smaller options. 2016 came with an alternative to the 40mm that wasn’t as small as the 35mm, incorporating the 37mm into options for the Yachtmaster. As of 2019, Rolex included a slightly larger 42mm size.
Although the Yachmaster may not be an ideal diving watch, it is perfect for those it’s intended for: those who love boating and water sports. It’s water resistant up to one hundred meters. The Oysterflex strap also makes it stand out from watches solely intended for the land instead of the sea.
Popular Rolex Yachtmaster Models
Though there have been many variations of the Yachtmaster through the years, there are some that truly stand out among others. Whether it’s through new additions or varied hues, here’s a few models to check out first if the Yachtmaster has piqued your interest.
This one (pictured with the Rolex Lady Datejust 26 and Datejust 36) stands out just enough to make a statement without being overly flashy. It’s easy to see why this style is so popular with its two-toned finish. You’ll get the best of both worlds with dazzling polished gold and high-quality stainless steel. Perhaps it’s one to consider both for on the yacht and simply walking through the city.
This is one smooth and sleek style. The combination of platinum and rhodium and turquoise text on the dial are beautifully composed on a luxury watch that’s also functional for those who enjoy boating. This distinct design is timeless for those who want a more subdued yet elegant look.
If you prefer a darker hue to complement your watch, then this may be the style for you. Accentuated with rose gold, this version of the Yachtmaster incorporates all the best aspects of a watch that you could possibly hope for. The two-piece nickel and titanium bracelet is coated in rubber, which offer both comfort and durability.
This Yachtmaster 42 also comes with the signature Oysterflex bracelet and a black dial. Rolex continues to display their commitment to high quality products through various aspects of its design, but particularly through the 18-karat white gold, which is crafted in Rolex’s in-house foundry. This classic style has an extra touch of elegance with the black and white contrasting hues.
Rolex Yachtmaster – Final Thoughts
With its intriguing history and wide range of designs, it’s easy to see why the Rolex Yachtmaster is so popular among boaters and watch collectors alike. There are many colors to choose from, veering far away from the initial release without customization options. Whether you intend to use it at sea or on land, the Yachtmaster will be a stylish addition for any occasion, and its durability will last through the years, potentially even through generations.
Ready to purchase your own Rolex Yachtmaster? Explore the vast collection of these watches for yourself at SwissWatchExpo.com