For this edition of Watch Compare, we examine two of Rolex’s more robust models built around marine culture—the Deepsea D-Blue ref. 116660 and the steel Yacht-Master II ref. 116680. Let’s dive in.
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Functionality: Deepsea D-Blue vs Yacht-Master II
As with all Rolex Oyster Professional watches, the Deepsea and the Yacht-Master II were developed for a specific audience. The Deepsea for professional divers and the Yacht-Master II for competitive sailors.
Carving out a niche target allows Rolex to carefully consider the look and functionality of a particular model—although, in reality, owners of these watches are rarely confined to the intended crowd. However, it’s still important to recognize the inspiration in order to understand why the watches are the way they are.
With cases measuring 44mm, the Deepsea and the Yacht-Master II are in fact the largest Rolex models to date. But due to its 17.7mm thickness (compared to the 14mm of the Yacht-Master II), the Deepsea feels significantly larger and heftier on the wrist. The bulkier case of the Deepsea is necessary to ensure its extreme water resistance of 12,800 feet—there’s the helium escape valve, the titanium caseback, the thick domed sapphire crystal, and the nitrogen-alloyed steel central ring to house.
While the Yacht-Master II ref. 116680 is water resistant to a respectable 330 feet, the watch performs above water. The Yacht-Master II includes a regatta chronograph, complete with a countdown mechanism and mechanical memory. A regatta is series of sailing competition where boats have differing start times—hence the countdown function.
Design: Deepsea D-Blue vs Yacht-Master II
While the Deepsea D-Blue functions exactly the same as the standard Deepsea, it does boast a special dial. Using specific design cues, the dial commemorates James Cameron’s historic 2012 descent to the Mariana Trench. First, there’s the gradual color change from bright blue to deep black to signify the darkness of the deep. Then there’s the bright green color of the “DEEPSEA” label mimicking the color of the submersible Cameron used.
The Yacht-Master II on the other hand, sports a white dial featuring a unique layout that’s significantly different to other Rolex watches. There’s the off-centered 10-minute countdown scale with an arrow-tipped hand, the running seconds subdial, and the blue and red accents. Just this year, Rolex updated the dial of the Yacht-Master II to now include Mercedes-style hands along with triangular and square indexes at 12 and 6 o’clock, respectively.
Typical of Rolex sports watches, both the Deepsea D-Blue ref. 116660 and the steel Yacht-Master II ref. 116680 have Oyster bracelets but with different clasps. Since it’s a diver’s watch, the Deepsea includes the Glidelock and the Fliplock extension systems to ensure the watch fits over a wetsuit. Furthermore, both timepieces also have a Cerachrom ceramic bezel, but again, their functions are different. The diver’s bezel used to keep track of immersion times on the Deepsea only rotates in one direction as a security measure. Conversely, the bidirectional blue ceramic bezel on the Yacht-Master II serves to control the countdown function. As a result, Rolex has dubbed it the Ring Command.
Movement: Deepsea D-Blue vs Yacht-Master II
The Deepsea D-Blue runs on the famous Rolex Caliber 3135 with 48 hours of power reserve. The automatic movement drives the time and date functions.
The Yacht-Master II runs on the Rolex Caliber 4161 automatic movement, which is one of the most complex modern movements from the brand. In addition to the programmable countdown, mechanical memory, and on-the-fly synchronization, there’s also a power reserve of 72 hours.
Collectability, Rarity, & Appreciation Prospects: Deepsea D-Blue vs Yacht-Master II
The official retail price of the Deepsea D-Blue is $12,350 while the steel Yacht-Master II ref. 116680 is more expensive at $18,750. However, it’s interesting to note that in the secondary market, both watches are priced very similarly. In fact, some D-Blue pieces are selling above retail price!
This speaks to the collectability of the James Cameron Deepsea D-Blue—it is one of the more difficult contemporary Rolex watches to source. Some authorized dealers still have long waitlists for the watch despite its release in 2014. Plus, the D-Blue is the first and only commemorative Rolex watch dedicated to a specific person.
And as any Rolex enthusiast knows, anything “first” and “only” is typically a sign of a great investment.