The Yacht-Master is already one of the most luxurious and striking Rolex watch collections out there. On virtually every model, the bezel is hard to ignore – regardless of whether you’re looking at a Rolex Yacht-Master or Yacht-Master II with a bright blue bezel, a sand-blasted platinum bezel, or the matte-black ceramic bezel against Everose gold.
However today, we’re talking about the dial of the Rolex Yacht-Master, which unlike the Yacht-Master II, is much more traditional – featuring the hour markers, hands and date aperture found on a number of other models, rather than a highly specific nautical complication. Although it has its own unique features, you could actually compare it to the dial of the Submariner.
Over the years, there have been different dials and textures for the Rolex Yacht-Master, from black and blue to white, silver, slate and even a luxurious sandblasted platinum dial. However, that’s not that most unusual of them all. In fact, the dial we’re going to look at today is unlike any of the other Rolex dials you’ve probably seen. Curious yet? Let’s take a closer look.
Not Your Average Rolex Yacht-Master Dial
We’ve seen plenty of black dials with white hour markers over the years at Rolex. Hell, we see it just about everywhere in the watch world. But in 1992, we were first introduced to this ‘inverted’ dial on the Rolex Yacht-Master 16628 (and later also on the 16623) – a white face with these beautiful, black hour-marker plots. Of course, they are also outlined in yellow gold, making the glossy black pop and shine against the slick white dial even more.
The black-filled plots were truly unique; however they were about more than just aesthetics. The Yacht-Master, while always a luxury-oriented timepiece, still boasts many of the credentials of a highly-capable sports watch. Although the black hour markers themselves do not glow – a feature that you would almost certainly want on a dive watch – they do provide an incredibly strong contrast against the white backdrop of the dial when viewed in the vast majority of lighting conditions.
Rumor has it that the initial design for the Rolex Yacht-Master was originally intended to be an update to the Submariner. However, Rolex decided not to tamper with success, and created the Yacht-Master as a luxury-oriented collection, leaving the Submariner free to stick more closely to its tool-watch origins. Much of the Submariner’s general design language can be seen in the Yacht-Master; but everything about it from its dial and bezel to the materials of its construction lean more towards style and luxury than strictly utilitarian aesthetics.
But the real question you’re probably contemplating is whether or not the wearer can read the time in the dark with this particular Yacht-Master dial. No, Rolex didn’t favor fashion over function in this model, and instead came up with a rather unusual solution to still provide the watch with a luminous display.
Instead of having the actual black hour markers themselves glow, Rolex placed small, inward-pointing luminous triangles on the inside of the black-filled hour markers to work alongside the lume-coated hands. The luminous triangles are bright and visible in the dark; however since they appear white in the light, you can barely spot them against the white dial during the day, unless you know exactly where to look.
Is this design slightly less functional than the standard method of fulling the hour markers themselves with lume – like what Rolex does on the rest of its Professional series watches? Almost certainly, but so is wearing a solid-gold sports watch in the first place. The Yacht-Master collection is about embracing the luxury side of the Rolex brand. Just like the Yacht-Master collection itself, this unique dial sacrifices a tiny amount of functionality, but gains one of the most unique and striking aesthetics that the collection has ever offered.