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What’s the Difference Between the Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II?

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Paul Altieri

Ever since the debut of the Explorer II in the early 1970s, Rolex has made a habit of periodically releasing a “Part II” to some of their most famous collections of watches. Sometimes, the second edition of the collection is intended to replace the first as the next step in the evolution of the watch, similar to how the GMT-Master II completely replaced the standard GMT-Master in Rolex’s catalog. Other times, like with the introduction of the Explorer II, the “II” version is intended to supplement the existing collection, offering additional or different features not found on the standard model. In these instances, the “II” version is not is not a replacement for the original model, but rather it is intended to be offered alongside the standard version as a more premium or professional focused offering.

Sometimes, these “Part II” Rolex models are very similar to their original watches, offering near-identical aesthetics and functionality. For example, the Rolex Datejust II is simply a larger version of the standard Datejust – it may be larger in size, but functionality and overall appearance are virtually identical. Other times, like with the Yacht Master and the Yacht-Master II, the “Part II” watch is an entirely different timepiece, and is instead intended to cater to an entirely different demographic of user than the original collection of watches. If you’ve ever wondered what the differences are between the Rolex Yacht Master and the Yacht Master II, then read on for our guide that breaks down the key differences between the two Rolex Yacht-Master watch collections.

Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II
There are many differences between the Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II.

Manufacturing Periods & Reference Numbers: Yacht-Master vs. Yacht-Master II

Rolex introduced the Yacht-Master collection in 1992 as a top-tier luxury watch with a nautical flair. This was not a utilitarian tool watch like the Submariner or the GMT-Master (although you can use the rotating bezel to time elapsed events) but rather, a sporty chic high-end watch to wear while at sea. Indeed, the full 18k yellow gold construction of the inaugural 40 mm Yacht-Master set the luxurious tone of the collection. Two years later Rolex rounded out the collection by adding midsize and ladies’ size versions of the Yacht-Master.

The men’s Yacht-Master 40 reference numbers and production dates are as follows:

  • Yellow Gold Yacht-Master 40 ref. 16628: 1992 – 2011
  • Platinum/Steel Yacht-Master 40 ref. 16622: 1999 – 2012
  • Yellow Gold/Steel Yacht-Master 40 ref. 16623: 2005 – 2015
  • Platinum/Steel Yacht-Master 40 ref. 116622: 2012 – Present
  • Everose Gold Yacht-Master 40 ref. 116655: 2015 – Present
  • Everose Gold/Steel Yacht-Master 40 ref. 116621: 2016 – Present

The Yacht-Master II joined the Rolex lineup in 2007. Unlike the Yacht Master, the Yacht Master II offers much more functionality for sailors thanks to its regatta timer to use during competitive races.

Since it’s a relatively new collection, there has only been one generation of the Yacht-Master II so far, offered in different materials:

  • Yellow Gold Yacht-Master ref. 116688: 2007 – Present
  • White Gold/Platinum Yacht-Master ref. 116689: 2007 – Present
  • Everose/Steel Yacht-Master ref. 116681: 2011 – Present
  • Steel Yacht-Master ref. 116680: 2013 – Present
Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II
The Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II is a watch made for the yachting community.

Functionality: Yacht-Master vs Yacht-Master II

Aside from telling the time, the Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II are quite different functionally. Powered by Rolex Cal. 3135 with a 48-hour power reserve, the dial of the Yacht-Master houses center hours, minutes, and sweeping seconds along with a date window at 3 o’clock.

On the other hand, the Yacht-Master II runs on Caliber 4161, which is one of Rolex’s most complex movements to date. In addition to the center hour and minute hands and running seconds subdial (and no date), the Cal. 4161 furnishes the Yacht-Master II with a regatta countdown with patented mechanical memory and on-the-fly-synchronization. What’s more, the bezel, dubbed Ring Command, is not just for exterior looks and functionality, but it also controls part of the movement inside the case. The Yacht-Master II has 72 hours of power reserve.

Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II
The Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II in rose gold is another hit by Rolex.

Design: Yacht-Master vs Yacht-Master II

The men’s Yacht-Master sports a 40 mm Oyster case topped with a rotating bezel with raised numerals. The dials of the Yachtmaster are similar to other Rolex sports watches with Mercedes-style hands and round/baton/triangular luminescent indexes.

While Rolex originally made yellow gold and two-tone yellow gold and steel versions of the Yacht-Master, the company has now replaced these with full Everose gold and two-tone Everose gold and steel models. When Rolex introduced Everose Yacht Master, it was the first watch to include the Oysterflex bracelet composed of a metal band wrapped in black rubber.  The steel versions of the Yacht-Master include platinum bezels. Rolex used to make 29 mm versions and 35 mm versions of the Yacht-Master, but today the only sub-40 mm size is the Yacht-Master 37.

Conversely, the Yacht-Master II is only available in one size—a very large 44 mm Oyster case. That case comes with a blue Cerachrom ceramic bezel (except for the white gold version which includes a platinum bezel). The dials of the Yacht-Master used to include blue pencil-style center hands and square indexes. However, in 2017, Rolex updated the dials (but kept the same reference numbers) to feature Mercedes-style, plus added baton and triangle indexes at 6 and 12 o’clock, respectively.

Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II
Should Rolex have made these two models so differently? Let us know in the comments below.

The Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II, Distant Relatives

They may share a similar name, but as we’ve illustrated, the Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II are far from the same watch. The first is a luxurious time and date Rolex sports watch while the latter is a big, bold, and complex Rolex watch built for competitions.

Regardless of which version of Rolex’s yachting watch you choose, they are both statement watches in their own unique way.

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Paul Altieri