First released at Baselworld 2019, the Yacht-Master 42 is the newest and largest addition to the Rolex Yacht-Master lineup. Historically, the Yacht Master collection has been the only Rolex sports model available in multiple sizes; however, until the release of the Yacht-Master 42 ref. 226659, 40mm was the largest case size available. Despite the fact that the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 introduced a new and larger 42mm case to the collection, at the time of writing, the model is only offered in a single configuration: a 42mm white gold case fitted with a black dial, black ceramic bezel, and matching black Oysterflex bracelet.
At first glance, the Rolex Yacht Master 42 reference 226659 appears very similar to the 40mm Everose gold model that is also fitted with an Oysterflex bracelet. Both watches feature black dials, matte black ceramic bezels with raised polished numerals, black Oysterflex bracelets, and Rolex’s in-house Caliber 3235 movement. However, while the core design of the Yacht-Master 42 is shared with the other Oysterflex Yacht-Master watches, the larger case paired with its toned-down monochromatic color profile makes it immediately distinct, and these small changes come together to make the Yacht-Master 42 ref. 226659 the perfect poster child for the modern Rolex brand.
Rolex Yacht-Master 42 Reference 226659
Yacht-Master 226659 Key Features:
– Reference Number: 226659
– Production Years: 2019 – Present
– Case Size: 42mm
– Materials: 18k White Gold
– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds; Date Display
– Dial: Black w/ Luminous Hour Markers
– Luminescence: Chromalight
– Bezel: Bidirectional, Black Ceramic Insert w/ 60-Minute Scale
– Crystal: Sapphire (Flat w/ Cyclops Lens)
– Movement: Rolex Caliber 3235
– Water Resistance: 100 Meters / 330 Feet
– Strap/Bracelet: Oysterflex Bracelet
– Clasp: Oysterlock Safety Clasp w/ Glidelock Extension System
– Approx. Price: $28,900 (Retail); $33,500 (Pre-Owned)
The History of the Rolex Yacht Master 42
Compared to many of Rolex’s other lines of watches, the Yacht-Master is a fairly young collection, having only just joined the brand’s catalog in 1992. While Rolex originally built much of its reputation by producing tough-as-nails tool watches, the brand had already started to make its transition towards becoming an all-out luxury manufacturer by the 1980s, and the Yacht-Master was created as an unapologetically luxurious take on the brand’s classic sports watch.
The Rolex Yacht-Master largely follows the same overall design as the Submariner, but leans more towards the opulent and luxurious side of things, rather than being a purpose-built underwater timing tool. Both the Submariner and the Yacht-Master feature rotating timing bezels, but while the Submariner’s bezel rotates unidirectionally and features a luminous dot at the zero-marker, the Yacht-Master’s moves bi-directionally and omits the luminous dot in favor of an insert crafted from either solid gold, platinum, or black ceramic. Similarly, all Rolex Yacht-Master watches feature precious metals somewhere in their construction. Even the most humble models that are largely crafted from stainless steel feature solid platinum bezels, and while the bezel insert on the reference 226659 is built from black ceramic, the watch itself is crafted from solid 18k white gold.
Initially, the Rolex Yacht-Master was exclusively offered in solid yellow gold and with a 40mm case. However, over the years, the collection expanded to include other case sizes and materials including both two-tone and Rolesium (a combination of stainless steel and platinum) references. Both a 29mm Lady Yacht-Master and 35mm Midsize Yacht-Master were previously offered alongside the standard 40mm model, but these two smaller versions were ultimately discontinued in favor of the Midsize Yacht-Master 37.
With that in mind, Baselworld 2019 marked the arrival of both an all-new Yacht-Master size and a new material option for the collection. With the launch of the reference 226659, not only was the Rolex Yacht-Master now available with a 42mm case diameter for the first time in its history but it was also offered with a solid 18k white gold case – something that was previously not an option within the standard Yacht-Master collection. While the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 marked a major step forward for the collection, the new 42mm case size is exclusively available for the ref. 226659, and the watch is only available in one single configuration. Given that the Yacht-Master 42 has only been on the market for a couple of years, many collectors speculate that the solid 18k white gold ref. 226659 is just the first of many 42mm Rolex Yacht-Master watches.
Rolex Yacht Master 42 Defining Elements
For the most part, the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 reference 226659 is a larger, white gold version of the Everose Yacht-Master 40 that is also on an Oysterflex bracelet. However, the ref. 226659 does possess a number of unique traits that make it immediately identifiable and separate it from all other Rolex watches.
42mm White Gold Case
Probably the single most defining feature of the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 reference 226659 is its 42mm case crafted from solid 18k white gold. Not only is this unique because the ref. 226659 is the only 42mm Yacht-Master model, but it also holds the distinction of being the only one that has ever been constructed from white gold. Over the course of the Yacht-Master’s history, it has been created in full 18k yellow gold, Yellow Rolesor (stainless steel and yellow gold), Rolesium (stainless steel and platinum), full 18k Everose gold, and Everose Rolesor (stainless steel and Everose gold). Additionally, there is even a version of the 44mm Yacht-Master II regatta timer that is built from white gold with a platinum bezel, but the reference 226659 is the only iteration of the classic Yacht-Master to be offered in full 18k white gold.
Black Cerachrom Bezel
Just like the 37mm and 40mm Everose gold Rolex Yacht-Master models that are also fitted with Oysterflex bracelets, the Yacht-Master 42 ref. 226659 receives a bidirectional timing bezel with an insert that is crafted from Rolex’s proprietary Cerachrom ceramic material. The black ceramic insert is given a matte-sandblasted texture, with raised graduations that feature a high-polish finish for improved contrast. Despite having both a different case size and being made from different materials, the matte black ceramic insert on the Yacht-Master 42 instantly unites it with the rest of the Oysterflex bracelets Yacht-Master watches in Rolex’s portfolio.
The Rolex Oysterflex bracelet is quite possibly the most over-engineered rubber strap in the world – however, to call it a “rubber strap” is a bit misleading. Rolex specifically refers to it as a bracelet within its catalog because the elastomer strap features a flexible metal core for optimum durability and longevity. Additionally, the underside of the strap features a comfort pad that elevates the strap slightly off the wrist, better distributing the weight of the watch and promoting airflow and breathability.
One of the more interesting details about how Rolex has chosen to structure its catalog is that the Oysterflex bracelet (seemingly the most sporty and least formal option) is exclusively equipped to the brand’s solid gold models. Whether fitted to a Daytona, Sky-Dweller, or Yacht-Master watch, all of the Oysterflex-equipped models are crafted from solid 18k gold (either yellow, white, or Everose). At the time of writing, the Oysterflex bracelet is only found on the full 18k Everose gold Yachtmaster 40 and Yacht-Master 37 watches, along with the 18k white gold Yacht-Master 42.
Rolex Caliber 3235 Movement
Despite being 2mm larger than the current Yacht-Master 40, the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 is powered by the exact same Caliber 3235 movement. Designed and manufactured entirely in-house by Rolex, the Cal. 3235 represents the brand’s latest generation of date-displaying mechanical movements and can be found in a number of other date-displaying Rolex watches, including all-time classics like the Datejust and the Submariner.
The Caliber 3235 movement is based around Rolex’s new Chronergy escapement, which features a skeletonized structure for improved efficiency. When combined with Rolex’s proprietary blue Parachrom hairspring and a redesigned gear train and mainspring barrel, the Caliber 3235 offers users an increased power reserve of 70 hours, which represents a significant step up from the 48-hour reserve offered by its predecessor. Additionally, despite its improved efficiency, the Rolex Cal. 3235 movement adheres to the same incredibly stringent ‘Superlative Chronometer’ precision standards, which permit a maximum timekeeping deviation of -2/+2 seconds per day.
Rolex Yacht-Master 42 Price and Availability
The Rolex Yacht-Master 42 reference 226659 has only been around for a couple of years, so it is still in production and available for purchase from retailers and boutiques. However, as anyone who is familiar with Rolex watches will tell you, finding the model you want brand-new and available for immediate sale is virtually impossible and for many highly popular references, there is no way to buy a brand-new Rolex without spending a significant amount of time on a waiting list. As a result of this lack of availability on a retail level, many buyers turn to the secondary market, where they can add a Rolex Yachtmaster 42 ref. 226659 to their collections without the wait.
How Much is a Rolex Yacht-Master 42?
As of 2021, the retail price for a brand-new Rolex Yacht-Master 42 reference 226659 is $28,900, which represents a $1,600 premium compared to its 40mm Everose gold counterpart. However, due to the fact that the white gold Yacht-Master 42 cannot be purchased at a retail level without being on a waiting list, pre-owned prices exceed their brand-new values and you can expect to pay a premium of several thousand dollars if you wish to skip the line and add one to your collection today.
Where to Buy a Rolex Yacht-Master 42
Since the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 ref. 226659 is still in production, you can technically still buy it brand-new from Rolex retailers and boutiques – just as long as you are willing to wait out the cue. A similar story exists for most of the popular modern Rolex models; however, compared to the steep premiums that many of the brand’s stainless steel sports watches trade hands for on the open market (which can frequently reach values in excess of 100% above their brand-new retail prices), the comparatively reasonable premium of a few thousand dollars to skip the line for a reference 226659 Yachtmaster 42 means that buyers often opt for a pre-owned example, where availability is immediate and guaranteed.
Rolex Yacht-Master 42: A Modern Luxury Sports Watch
Rolex may have originally built much of its legendary reputation by building tough and reliable sport and tool watches, but the brand’s days as a manufacturer of utilitarian timekeeping devices have long since passed. These days, Rolex is an all-out luxury brand and it is arguably the single most famous luxury label in the entire world. The thought of a military branch supplying its troops with Rolex Submariner watches has become almost comical given that countless people all around the globe are unable to buy a Submariner, despite being more than willing to pay full retail price for one. In fact, the Rolex Submariner is so in-demand that most people are willing to pay far more than the brand-new retail price, just to skip the multi-year waiting list and add one to their collections.
Despite Rolex’s transition towards becoming a luxury manufacturer, it has never stopped producing reliable and finely crafted sports watches. However, the nature of its sports watches has certainly evolved to take on a more luxury-oriented approach, just like the brand’s positioning within the greater watch market. Rolex was producing sports watches back in the 1950s and 1960s and although its products were always considered to be premium timepieces, they were hardly regarded as luxury items, let alone status symbols.
These days, Rolex sports watches are some of the most iconic and desirable luxury timepieces in existence, and wearing one has become a universally recognized symbol of success and personal accomplishment. As a result of the implicit connotations that they carry, modern Rolex sports watches need to do more than just be tough and reliable; they also need to offer a bit of flash and match the opulent and exclusive image of Rolex itself.
The Yacht-Master 42 reference 226659 is the perfect poster-child for the modern Rolex brand. Its monochromatic color profile paired with its matte black ceramic bezel and black Oysterflex bracelet makes the watch inherently casual and sporty, and at first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a humble stainless steel model. However, at its core, the Yacht-Master 42 ref. 226659 is a $30k solid gold Rolex. Wearing a Rolex watch has become a universally recognized status symbol, but Rolex is not a brand known for making over-the-top, statement pieces. The white gold Yacht-Master 42 is the perfect statement piece for those that do not want to make a statement, and that is precisely why the reference 226659 is the perfect poster-child for the modern Rolex brand.