Rolex Yacht-Master: The Nautical Wristwatch
The nautical-inspired Rolex Yacht-Master is among the most elegant in the sports watch lineup from the world’s most prestigious chronograph brand. Offered with a range of case metals, bezel materials and bracelet styles, the Rolex Yacht-Master is one of the most versatile models.
With two distinct models - the original Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II - each has been crafted to perform two distinct functions. The first Yacht-Master was launched in 1992 with a lady’s model to follow two years later. The inaugural Yacht-Master was intended as a luxurious take on the Rolex sports offering and has since become the go-to high-end watch for days cruising the open ocean.
When the Yacht-Master II was released in 2007, it was specifically designed for regatta racing with precise functionality in a countdown timer - the world’s first with a mechanical memory - and supremely clear and legible chronograph features. So, whether you’re messing about with boats, racing them or merely seeking a luxury watch for everyday sophistication, there’s a Rolex Yacht-Master for the purpose.
The Beginning Of An Iconic Water Sports Watch
As with any Rolex sports watch range, the Yacht-Master line has built an impressive portfolio of accomplishments and endorsements.
Rolex’s celebrated affinity with the ocean is one of a longstanding horological maritime heritage. The brand’s first waterproof case - the iconic Oyster - was launched in 1926 and it would always follow that Rolex would take to the high seas. A partnership with the New York Yacht Club followed in the 1950s and in 1967 celebrated yachtsman Francis Chichester set the record for the fastest voyage around the globe in a small vessel with a Rolex on his wrist.
Prototypes of what would become the premier sailing sports watch were tested from the 1960s onwards before the world’s first Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master was finally launched in the early 1990s.
The 18ct yellow gold model quickly set the standard for luxury tool watches able to withstand the precision and rigour required for ocean navigation and the ceaseless spray of sailing at sea. It also became the watch of choice for a new breed of superyacht owners sailing the globe from chic ports to exclusive marinas.
Later, the Rolex Yacht-Master II with flyback and fly-forward functionality enabled seamless synchronisation with Race Committee timekeeping in regattas held in every class on every coastline.
Rolex Yacht-Master & Rolex Yacht-Master II
The Yacht-Master is notable for being a great daily wearer with sporting performance and ruggedly elegant aesthetics. With a flatter case back that wears comfortably, the Yacht-Master has been produced in a range of sizes.
Originally with a men’s 40mm, a midsize 35mm and a lady’s 29mm case, the line was reconfigured in 2019 to feature 42mm, 40mm and 37mm sizes to reflect changing tastes in unisex watch wearing with standout dimensions. Yacht-Master models have a classic traditional 3-hand display and 60-minute graduated bezel, a look for which Rolex is supremely renowned.
Rolex phased out the yellow gold Yacht-Master during the 2010s. Naturally, that has only heightened interest, and indeed values, of those models. Likewise, Yacht-Masters in yellow Rolesor - the union of Oyster Steel and 18k yellow gold - enjoyed a successful but limited run. Examples of newer and vintage Rolex Yacht-Masters continue to be found in Everose Gold, Rolesium and White Gold.
When it was launched, the Yacht-Master II was the most complicated watch to date from Rolex. With bold colours and a massive face to aid visibility, the Yacht-Master II has continued to push boundaries.
The Yacht-Master II still only comes in a 44mm case while its bright blue Cerachrom insert bezel bears 0-10 large scale numbers for all important racing countdowns. The Ring Command bezel at the centre of the watch works in conjunction with the movement to enable an accurate sync with regatta control starting sequences.
Both the Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II have only ever been offered with an Oyster bracelet or an Oysterflex bracelet. The former metal bracelet with three-piece links has been a mainstay of Rolex since the 1930s and creates a timeless look whether paired with formal or casual attire. The latter option offers practicality and a sporty vibe with a rubber elastomer rubber outer supported by internal metallic links.
The Rolex Yacht-Master as an Investment
Both the Rolex Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II have proven to be good investments for collectors. Though both watches share a name, they’re very different and so their attraction to luxury chronograph enthusiasts is varied. In truth, both models - though more so the Yacht-Master II - have been viewed as a little niche. Unlike other Rolex lines, however, because both were built for a specific purpose, it means their revolutionary though classic looks, will stand the test of time.
Whether you’re looking for unworn, vintage, or pre-owned Rolex watches, prices will vary. But prices could rise the longer you keep them, provided that they are in a good condition. When purchasing from pre-owned watch specialists, there are Rolex Yacht-Master II watches in yellow gold that can be found priced above £30,000 while some stainless steel Yacht-Masters can be found for under £10,000.
Rare Rolex watches are also a good investment and their future sale price could vary provided that they are still popular and highly-sought after in the future when they come to be sold. One rare timepiece is a rose gold Rolex Yacht-Master 40, nicknamed the ‘Rainbow’, which can be priced at around £140,000. If you own any rare or treasured Rolex watches, you can get an expert watch valuation
with WatchCentre if you’re looking to sell your watch.
At the same time, both the Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II were robustly designed and built to withstand the elements meaning plenty of relatively vintage Rolex examples have survived in pristine condition. It also means that in some catalogues there’s scope to find undervalued pre-owned Rolex watches
bearing either the Yacht-Master or Yacht-Master II mark.
Because the Yacht-Master itself is one of the few Rolex models to be offered with a sub-40mm case, it also means that the mid-size and compact editions are among the best Rolex watches to hold their value for ladies and those with smaller wrists.
Buying A Pre-Owned Rolex Yacht-Master
Seeking luxury provenance and a statement piece to adorn the wrist of any sailor, sports enthusiast or effortlessly smart-to-casual chronograph collector? Both the Rolex Yacht-Master or Yacht-Master II will prove to be the ideal timepiece for any discerning watch wearer.
Said to be a favourite of A-listers and sports greats including Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, David Beckham and Roger Federer, the Yachts-Master and Yachts-Master II are ideal long-term Rolex investment pieces.
As one of the UK’s leading luxury pre-owned watch specialists, WatchCentre’s Rolex Yacht-Master range is full of authentic timepieces suitable for either yourself or to give as a gift.