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 Rolex Yacht-Master is a collection of luxury-oriented sports watches inspired by the world of sailing. Rolex offers both a Yacht-Master, Yacht-Master II, and Yacht-Master 40 alongside each other, and while these two models have very similar names, they are actually quite different watches. The original Yacht-Master model is a luxury-oriented take on Rolex's classic sports watch, while the Yacht-Master II is a purpose-built regatta time intended for the world of competitive sailing.
The original Yacht-Master took the same general design of Rolex's successful Submariner dive watch, but placed a greater emphasis on refined aesthetics and premium materials, rather than pure functionality. Still water resistant to 100 meters and offering a rotating timing bezel, the original is the ideal luxury sports watch for lounging on a yacht, while the Yacht-Master II looks unlike anything Rolex has ever produced before and is the watch you want on your wrist if you find yourself racing a yacht.
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 a perfect pairing.
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 real history of the collection didn't start until decades later when the brand introduced the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master in 1992 as an ultra-luxury sports watch built for the open seas. To emphasize the luxury-oriented nature 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. Despite being a part of the greater Yacht-Master collection, the Rolex Yacht-Master II is a significantly different watch from the original model. While the original Yacht-Master was intended to be a luxury-oriented sports watch, the Yacht-Master II was a purpose-built sports watch that was specifically designed for professional regattas.
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.
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.
Today, both the Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II remain a part of the brand's catalog, each representing a different type of sailing-inspired watch. Both versions are the perfect embodiment of the ongoing relationship between Rolex and the world of yachting, and like all Rolex watches, both models are crafted to the highest standards on this planet.
Retail prices for Rolex Yacht-Master watches at $11,250 for the 37mm version and $12,000 for the 40mm models. Prices then increase from there, depending on materials and specific configuration. The cost of Rolex Yacht-Master II watches starts at $18,750 and increases with the use of precious metals.
|Model||Retail Price||Second-Hand Price||Size||Materials and Strap|
|Ref. 268622||11,250 USD||from $10,390||37mm||Rolesium; Oyster Bracelet|
|Ref. 268621||13,150 USD||from $11,900||37mm||Rolesor; Oyster Bracelet|
|Ref. 268655||23,250 USD||from $16,495||37mm||Everose; Oysterflex Bracelet|
|Ref. 126622||12,000 USD||from $12,325||40mm||Rolesium; Oyster Bracelet|
|Ref. 126621||14,500 USD||from $14,595||40mm||Rolesor; Oyster Bracelet|
|Ref. 126655||27,300 USD||from $24,000||40mm||Everose; Oysterflex Bracelet|
|Ref. 226659||28,900 USD||from $28,995||42mm||White Gold; Oysterflex Braclet|
|Ref. 116680||18,750 USD||from $14,295||44mm||Stainless Steel; Oyster Bracelet|
|Ref. 116681||25,350 USD||from $18,795||44mm||Rolesor; Oyster Bracelet|
|Ref. 116688||43,550 USD||from $29,500||44mm||Yellow Gold; Oyster Bracelet|
|Ref. 116689||48,150 USD||from $25,595||44mm||White Gold and Platinum; Oyster Bracelet|
Due to its varied assortment of sizes and materials, price points can range significantly. Older and smaller used Rolex Yacht-Master examples in steel can hover around $5,000 on the secondary market, while newer, larger, and precious metal models sell for well into five figures. Not including Yacht-Master II models, the most expensive watch from the original Yacht-Master collection is the ref. 126655 in 18k Everose gold and fitted with a diamond-paved dial, which retails for $47,150 - a significant premium over the non-diamond version of the same reference, which retails for $27,300.
The Yacht-Master II is one of Rolex's most expensive sports watch models thanks to its large size and complex movement. Although Rolex does not offer any Yacht-Master II models with diamonds or gemstones, the complexity of the movement guarantees that all models will be in the five-figure range. Pre-owned prices for stainless steel models start at around $15,000, while the ref. 116689 in 18k white gold and platinum is the most expensive and is priced at $48,150 when purchased at retail.
Although the Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II models share similar names, they are indeed very different models, each with their own unique histories, functionality, and evolution. The Rolex Yacht-Master II is not so much an evolution of the original model as it is represents the other, contrasting side of what a yachting watch could be.
The original collection has had several different models and sizes in a variety of different materials 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 in solid 18k white gold and fitted with a black Cerachrom ceramic bezel and Oysterflex bracelet. Additionally, metal options have included everything from solid gold to Rolesium - a exclusive to this model, where stainless steel and platinum components are used on the same watch.
Conversely, the company has only ever made the Rolex Yacht-Master II model in 44mm so far, although the watch is available in a number of different metal options, including stainless steel, yellow gold, Everose Rolesor (stainless steel and rose gold), 18k yellow gold, and 18k white gold with a solid platinum bezel. Regardless of the model, all the original references have Oyster cases with 100 meters of water-resistance.
Throughout its production, this timepiece 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 Oysterflex bracelet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Oysterflex is Rolex's newest bracelet pairing flexible metal blades with high-performance elastomer. The result is a rubber bracelet that is unlike any other on the market today. It's resilient while allowing for a highly flexible hold, and it features a unique design on the bracelet’s underside that allows the wrist to breathe and keeps the case centered. The Yacht-Master is one of the few models within the Rolex catalog to offer the Oysterflex bracelet option.
Currently in production on this bracelet type are references 226659 (42mm/white gold), 268655 (37mm/Everose), and 126655 (40mm/Everose). These editions of the usually super luxurious Yacht-Master exude a sportier aesthetic that is perfectly in-line with any seafaring wristwatch. Other references that are always trending on the market are the 40mm Rolesium references 126622, 116622, and 16622.