Another Rolex surprise coming out of BaselWorld is the updated Rolex Yacht-Master. The Rolex Yachtmaster is somewhat of a hybrid watch combining the water proof capacities of the Submariner merged with the refinements found in the DateJust line. According to Rolex, the Yacht-Master, “is a reference among nautical watches and embodies the privileged ties between Rolex and the world of sailing that stretch back to the 1950’s.” Early Yacht-Masters of the 1990’s were essentially Submariners with rounded edges, thinner caseback, polished center links on the bracelet, and a bezel insert of gold or platinum with raised numerals. The new updated Yacht-Masters unveil welcomed details not found on any other Rolex watch making it the sportiest Rolex in the line up.
The new Yacht-Master distinguishes itself by being available in Rolex’s Everose, a combination of 18K gold and copper giving the metal a warm reddish glow cast in Rolex’s own foundry. Eschewing the trend towards larger sport watches, Rolex offers the Yacht-Master in two sizes, 40mm and 37mm. Unlike the 44mm Yacht-Master II, the 40mm size appeals to a wider variety of wearers. The Everose Oyster case is waterproof to 100M (330 feet) and utilizes the same TripLock winding crown.
Making the updated Yacht-Master stunning is the amount of contrasting bits. Bouncing off the Everose gold case is a black watch face, black ceramic bezel insert, and black “elastomer” (don’t call it rubber) watch strap. Rather than using a polished ceramic insert with engraved/recessed numbers, the Yacht-Master utilizes a slick matte black ceramic insert with raised numbers that are polished giving the bezel insert an elegant contrast between the numbers and the background. The ceramic bezel insert compliments the matte black dial. Standing out from the dial’s middle is “Yacht-Master” in red, reminiscent to the highly collectible vintage Submariners of the past.
New to the Rolex lineup is the OysterFlex watch strap. Although Rolex refers to the OysterFlex as a bracelet, it does not have removable links like traditional metal Oyster bracelets. The OysterFlex is one piece without any length adjustment other than three settings inside the Oyster clasp. Because of this design limitation, Rolex will offer six different OysterFlex bracelet variations requiring the strap to be fitted at a Rolex Authorized Dealer. One of the main criticisms of elastomer straps are their unpredictability of breakage or becoming brittle in sunlight. Rolex address these shortcomings by utilizing flexible titanium inserts inside the strap. In reality, it’s the titanium liner that keeps the watch securely to the wearer’s wrist and the “overmoulded” elastomer is for wearing comfort.
The Yacht-Master’s engine is the venerable Rolex 3135 movement with 48 hours of power, and the 38mm version sports the Lady DateJust’s 2236 movement complete with silicon (or Siloxi) balance spring and ParaFlex shock springs giving the smaller movement 55 hours of power.
The OysterFlex strap, matte and polished ceramic, and silicon/Siloxi finding its way into sport watches indicate that Rolex looks to the future. These new breakthroughs are fun to watch and they make a Rolex a Rolex. Be sure to swing by and stay in contact with Fourtané to see these new models as they become available.
– Sheldon Smith