Rolex’s Yacht-Master series emerged in the early nineties, touted as a nautically-themed luxury lifestyle offering against the all-out professional tools of the brand’s dive trio.
Although quite clearly cut from the same mold as the Submariner (and there were even rumors it was originally dreamt up back in the eighties as a possible replacement for the legendary Sub), it has always set itself apart with its softer, more graceful lines and choice of materials. The closest you’ll find to the utility of steel here is when it’s being gentrified by the presence of Rolex’s own 18K gold in their Rolesor models or their platinum in the Rolesium versions – a combination that made its debut with the first wave of Rolex Yacht-Master watches.
Precious metals don’t come cheap, and the YM has consequently not had the same universal mass appeal as others in the Oyster Professional range. It has always purposely avoided going too sporty, aiming the model at a more targeted audience – those who, for example, may own luxury yachts.
Let’s take a look at one of Rolex’s most interesting and beautifully balanced masterpieces, the Yacht-Master in Everose.
What You Need to Know About the Everose Yacht-Master 40 Ref. 116655
Yacht-Master 116655 Key Features
Material: Everose – 18k Rose Gold
Bezel: Bi-Directional, Cerachrom
Movement: Automatic cal. 3135
Dial: Black w/ Chromalight
Water Resistance: 100 Meters/330 feet
Yacht-Master 116655: One of A Kind
In 2015, a new Yacht-Master with many surprises up its sleeve made its grand entrance. The Yacht-Master reference 116655 brought with it several firsts, not just for the Yacht-Master range, but for Rolex itself. It was the first Rolex to feature the innovative Oysterflex bracelet, the brand’s take on the rubber strap. It was also the first Yacht-Master to ditch the precious metal bezel for Cerachrom, Rolex’s term for ceramic. Of course, the bezel is produced in matte black to match the sleek Oysterflex strap.
The Rolex Yacht-Master Rose Gold 40mm
While their bezels have always featured embossed numerals, as opposed to the engraved ones favored by the rest of the brand’s catalog, the contrast between the high polish of the three-dimensional markings against that gloriously muted, sandblasted ceramic gives an altogether more dramatic effect. This design is echoed on the black dial, replacing what is typically a glossy element on other similarly colored Rolex watches for a matte hue to match the bezel and bracelet.
Juxtaposing against the high-polish and elegantly curved 18k Everose case, Rolex’s own blend of gold and copper with a dash of platinum to seal it all in, it underlines the ref. 116655’s status as the best of both worlds. Dressy enough for the yacht club; sporty enough for the yacht race.
The Oysterflex Bracelet
At the core of the Oysterflex is a blade forged from an alloy of titanium and nickel, molded in a high-performance, hypoallergenic elastomer. It means, not only is the bracelet exceptionally resistant to environmental rigors, but it’s also free to form itself to the shape of the wearer’s wrist while retaining all the strength of any of the brand’s metal bands.
It is an extremely comfortable bracelet, made even more so by the addition of a pair of ‘fins’ underneath that both cushion and support the watch while also providing airflow to cool the wrist on warm days. The bracelet is secured by the same Oysterlock clasp as you’ll find on most Rolex sports models and comes with the 5mm Easylink extension system for a spot of fine-tuning.
The only drawback compared to, say, the traditional Oyster bracelet is obviously in making larger adjustments. There are no links to add or remove, and, unlike other rubber straps, cutting it to size isn’t an option, thanks to the metal core. Rolex offers a choice of bracelet size at the time of purchase, but it does mean you won’t be able to lend your watch to anyone with significantly bigger or smaller wrists than you. Oh well!
The Calibre 3135 Perpetual Movement
Inside the 40mm ref. 116655 is the battle-hardened and utterly reliable Cal. 3135, which remained Rolex’s main engine from 1988 until just recently when it was replaced by its successor – calibre 3235. Performing way beyond the standards set down by the COSC, it’s accurate to within +2/-2 seconds a day. Cal. 3135 also boasts a Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring and a convenient 48-hour power reserve. Even if you set your Yacht-Master down and don’t pick it up until a day or so later, it will continue to read true.
The Next Generation of Yacht Masters: The Rolex 116655 vs. 126655
In 2019, a new collection of regatta timers came to market, replacing the first 6-digit 1166XX generation. The beloved cal. 3135 retired from the Yacht-Master collection altogether, making way for the new and improved calibre 3235 with a more efficient skeletonized Chronergy escapement and, thus, a longer 70-hour power reserve. The Everose and Oysterflex Yacht-Master survived the transition, housing the improved movement within the current ref. 126655. It features a similar design set as ref. 116655, including a 40mm case and the same stunning matte black ceramic bezel. Also joining the new 40mm lineup were Rolesium ref. 126622 and Everose Rolesor ref. 126621.
The Yacht-Master ref. 116655 has all the hallmarks of a classic in the making. It’s a radical departure from the norm, and it debuted several never-before-seen features. Additionally, Its matte dial with the red text gives it a healthy vintage feel, and its hefty retail price will grant it an invaluable degree of exclusivity.
If we were gamblers, we certainly wouldn’t bet against it becoming a highly sought-after piece in years to come, but that isn’t the best reason to add one to your collection if the budget allows. This is simply one of the most strikingly good-looking and capable watches ever produced by a brand that sets the standard other manufacturers try to live up to. A model welcomed anywhere, whether on deck or on the beach, the Everose gold Yacht-Master 40 is Rolex at their formidable best.