The Yacht-Master is well suited for boat enthusiasts looking for a practical and stylish timepiece. Released in 1992, the collection pays homage to the world of sailing, with certain models featuring flyback regatta timers with a mechanical memory. 2020 update: suggested retail prices start at $11,250 and increases depending on the model and metal used. To browse though our entire selection of pre-owned models click on our used Rolex watches page.
The iconic and emblematic Rolex Yacht Master is the newest of the Rolex released in 1992 in 18k yellow gold. This timepiece symbolizes the tie between Rolex and the luxurious yachting lifestyle of the 1950s. This piece embedded a variety of new features in the latest model including a bidirectional rotatable bezel, a triplock winding crown that triples its waterproofing ability, and a parachrom oscillator hairspring which increases the watch's accuracy by making it resistant against magnetic fields and shocks. This regata chronograph features the world's first programmable mechanical countdown with precision reminiscent of the start of a yacht race.
The relationship between Rolex and sailing dates back to 1958, the year the Swiss watchmaker formed a partnership with the prestigious New York Yacht Club. Since Rolex was a pioneer in creating waterproof watches starting with the groundbreaking Rolex Oyster watch in 1926, the alliance was ideal. Less than a decade later, Francis Chichester - one of history's most exceptional navigators, became the first and fastest person to sail around the globe single-handedly in his yacht, Gipsy Moth IV. Traveling west to east, the historic voyage took place from August 1966 to May 1967 and covered 29,600 miles over 226 days at sea. Even more impressive is that Francis Chichester only had nautical charts, a sextant, and a Rolex Oyster Perpetual as navigational tools. His Rolex wristwatch chronometer withstood the harsh conditions at sea with ease and came back from the around-the-world adventure intact.
In the 1960s, Rolex created a prototype dial for the Cosmograph chronograph with the name "Yacht Master" on it. Two known examples of the Daytona Yacht Master prototype have been in the hands of Eric Clapton (his model sold for $125,100 at auction in 2003) and renowned Rolex collector John Goldberger. This particular version of the prototype never went into production and it would take more than two decades for the Company to finally launch the official Yacht-Master collection.
The brand introduced the Oyster Perpetual model of this line in 1992 as an ultra-luxury sports watch built for the open seas. To emphasize the luxuriousness of the collection, the first model was a solid yellow gold version. The watch sported a gold 40mm Oyster case, a gold bi-directional rotatable bezel marked to 60 minutes for timing, and a gold Oyster bracelet. Over the next two-plus decades, Rolex has added an assortment of materials and sizes to the models nautical watch collection, making it the most varied Professional watch range in Rolex's history.
In 2007, Rolex officially introduced the Yacht Master II regatta chronograph intended for competitive yachtsmen. Identical to any contest of speed, precision is paramount in a regatta. Before the start of a sailing race, the racing committee uses a series of flags and horns to signal the countdown (typically five to 10 minutes) to the start of a race. A skipper uses a regatta timer to determine when the boat is permitted to cross the starting line since crossing it too early results in severe penalties and getting a late start can jeopardize the likelihood of winning. In an event of a recall, the boats have to return behind the line and a new start sequence begins. Therefore, to build the ultimate regatta watch for sailors, Rolex furnished the second collection with features such as a programmable countdown timer (to measure with reliability how much time until the start of the race) and on-the-fly synchronization (for flexibility should the race committee have to restart the race sequence).
Unlike the original version Rolex has only ever made the second collection with a 44mm Oyster case and fitted with an Oyster bracelet. However, this new version is available in a few different materials.
The original and the new version are the perfect embodiment of the ongoing relationship between the Company and yachting world.
Though the original and updated collection share similar names, they are indeed very different models, each with their own histories, functionality, and evolution.
The collection has had several different models and sizes over the years, including watches with 29mm, 35mm, 37mm, 40mm, and 42mm case sizes. The 29mm and 35mm versions are no longer in production, while the 42mm version debuted as part of the new 2019 Rolex watches.
Conversely, the company has only made the Yacht-Master II 44 model so far, although the watch is available in a number of different metal options.
Regardless of the model, all the references have Oyster cases with 100 meters of water-resistance.
Rolex makes both versions in an assortment of materials. It's interesting to note that it is the only collection that offers Rolesium models – which is the combination of 904L stainless steel (now referred to as Oystersteel by Rolex) and 950 platinum on one watch. There are also gold and Rolesor models (the combination of stainless steel and gold on one watch).
Rolex no longer makes yellow gold versions of the standard model. Instead they now use Everose gold (the company's proprietary rose gold alloy) and 18k white gold. The 42mm version is the only white gold version that Rolex has released.
Depending on the material of the case, the materials used for the bezels differ as well. There are solid metal bezels with raised polished numerals, matt black ceramic bezels with raised numerals, and blue ceramic bezels (Cerachrom). The 60-minute graduated Cerachrom bezel is a relatively new material to the lineup, joining the collection in 2015. Rolex also presented a very special gem-set reference in 2017 with a rainbow-colored sapphire-set bezel, which goes by the nickname the "gummy bear" among collectors.
A proprietary material manufactured by Rolex, Cerachrom is a high-tech ceramic alloy that is not only scratchproof and corrosion resistant, but its colors are unaffected by ultraviolet rays. An ideal material that provides added robustness to the Yacht-Master lineup, Cerachrom bezel inserts and Ceramic monobloc bezels illustrate Rolex's innovation and high standards.
Although it was exclusively fitted with the robust metal Oyster bracelet for most of its history, in 2015 Rolex introduced the Oysterlex bracelet on the then-new Everose gold Yacht-Master models. While it may look like a standard black rubber strap, the Oysterflex bracelet is actually composed of an inner metal blade, which is then coated in black elastomer. The Oysterflex bracelet secures around the wrist via a matching solid gold Oysterlock safety clasp.
Throughout its production, the Rolex Yacht-Master has been manufactured in the following sizes:
Since 2015, Rolex discontinued the 29mm and 35mm Yacht-Master versions in favor of the one with a 37mm case diameter. The latest size to join the collection was the new 2019 model with a 42mm Oyster case in white gold, black Cerachom bezel, and black Osyterflex bracelet.
For optimal legibility, the dial layout of the Yacht-Master is typical of most Rolex Professional watch models with Mercedes-style hands, lume-filled hour markers, and a date window at 3 o'clock. Similar to other Rolex watches with date windows, the dial is protected with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal that has a Cyclops magnification lens for easier reading of the date. There are several dial colors and materials available and platinum and steel models are particularly popular with a matching sandblasted platinum dial.
However, the Yacht-Master II dial layout is vastly different from any other Rolex due to its niche complication. It is home to a countdown display (which can be programmed anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes), which is read via a red arrow-tipped hand. There is also the central flyback/fly-forward chronograph hand, the center hour and minute hands, and the running seconds sub-dial. Furthermore, the Yacht-Master II includes 12 lume-filled hour makers. For the first decade of the watch's history, the dial included straight hour and minute hands, which pointed to square hour markers. However, in 2017, Rolex updated the dials to now include the familiar Mercedes-style hands and added a triangular hour marker at 12 and a rectangular hour marker at 6.
Current-production boast Rolex's Chromalight display, which comprises of a luminescent material that emits a blue long-lasting glow. The luminous broad hands and hour markers provide top-notch legibility in low light conditions.
In terms of complications, the two versions of the Yacht-Master differ significantly: the Yacht-Master is a time and date watch while the Yacht-Master II is a regatta chronograph. As such, the two watches run on different self-winding COSC-certified calibers; however all movements used within the collection are entirely designed and manufactured in-house by Rolex.
In 2019, Rolex updated the 40 lineup with the new generation perpetual 3235 movement.
The earlier models of the Yacht-Master II ran on Caliber 4160, and Caliber 4161 made its debut in 2013. Rolex has since updated the collection to include the updated Caliber 4161 chronograph movement. One of Rolex's most complicated in-house made movements to date, Caliber 4160/4161 includes a programmable countdown timer with mechanical memory and on-the-fly chronograph synchronization. What's more, the Ring Command bezel of the Yacht-Master II is not merely decorative, but it is a key component of how to use the watch by allowing the wearer to adjust and set the countdown feature. The Yacht-Master II is complex in design, simple in use, and functionally beautiful.
Due to its varied assortment of sizes and materials, price points can range significantly. Older and smaller examples in steel can hover around $5,000 while newer, larger, and precious metal models sell for five figures.
On the other hand, the Yacht-Master II is one of Rolex's most expensive sports watch models thanks to its large size and complex movement. Pre-owned prices for stainless steel models start at around $15,000, while the white gold and platinum version is priced over $48,000 at retail.
Although the collection has only been a part of the Rolex collection since the 1990s, early Rolex Oyster watches set the stage for the brand's nautical watches decades before that.
1966 to 1967 - Sir Francis Chichester became the first man to circumnavigate the globe single-handedly and he wore a Rolex Oyster watch
1992 - Rolex introduced the collection
1994 - Rolex introduced the midsize and ladies' models
1996 - Rolex introduced the two-tone midsize and ladies' models
1997 - Rolex released the Rolesium version (also known as platinum)
2007 - Rolex released the Yacht-Master II, the world's first watch equipped with a programmable countdown and mechanical memory
2013 - Rolex updates the movement inside the Yacht-Master II collection from the Cal. 4160 to the Cal. 4161.
Similar to other sports watches made by the company, the various models are a favorite among the celebrity set. From actors to athletes, explorers to chefs, here are just a few of the famous names we've spotted wearing these nautically-inspired watches.