When there’s a need for sports activities along with accurate timekeeping, Rolex is the name that would almost always echo in your mind. With diving, exploration, traveling, and racing already sorted, it wasn’t until early 90s that Rolex unveiled the watch dedicated for nautical lifestyle. 1992 marked the birth of the first nautical model from Rolex called “Yachtmaster” offered in full 18 karat gold and with the same movement as the Submariner
The 1999 introduced the steel and platinum version offered by Rolex called Rolesium. And then 2012 unveiled with six-digit Rolesium version with upgraded clasp and bezel. So was it just another Submariner?
Yacht-master has always been considered to have similar looks as Submariner and this is arguably what Rolex was trying to do when they came up with this reference. The original release of yacht-master, dating back to 90s was not too late after the quartz crisis had hit the market and when the concept of luxury steel watches was introduced in fine watchmaking.
Rolex has never been a luxury watch brand, rather they have always been a manufacturer that mass-produces good tool watches that were always made to do the job and offer the function they were built for, and they have never failed in delivering the function accurately and in the most extreme environments.
Although times have changed now and with current prices on Rolex, many consider them as a luxury watch brand, but deep inside their flesh and finish they are still good watches and really just very good tool watches so amid the concept of luxury watches, Rolex was producing professional sports watches and wanted to up the game without changing or disrupting the current line which was already very successful due to the function, water resistance, time accuracy and sporty characteristics it offered.
Rolex wanted to step into the luxury side of watches.
It made sense to add a luxurious product and a precious metal into a design that had stood the test of time, so it potentially receives a relatively easy acceptance from a wider audience. So Rolex decided to use the same Submariner design but change the watch enough to make it a new reference, and yet offer it in a more luxurious form and an upper-tier watch.
The best thing about Rolex watches is that they are not only a figure of decoration but they also always do the job they are made for, and this meant that Rolex didn’t just redesign the Submariner looks rather they considered the functions required for sea surfing as opposed to diving functions of Submariner.
For Yacht related activities there, was no more requirement for water resistance to remain at 300 meters like a Submariner and therefore the Yachtmaster came with 100 meters of water resistance. The unidirectional bezel is also a requirement purely for diving and with those intents aside, and then factoring in the sea surfing requirements the watch came with bi-directional rotating bezel.
To complement the luxurious correctness of the watch, the bezel comes with beautiful three-dimensional printing and in the precious metal of platinum.
The sandblasted finish of the bezel base with highly polished numerals on one end give that high-end look to the watch but on the other, reduces the overall presence due to the lack of the contrast from the watch case and the bracelet so it’s far less in-your-face due to smaller case appearance.
One very clear design character of Yachtmaster is the legibility to enhance the time reading function in extreme conditions and to deliver it, the watch comes with bigger hour markers and wider hands with greater luminescent material filled in them.
The hour markers under the macro show a decent amount of finish and equality aligns with the standard you would expect from this high-end Rolex offering. The blue text for yacht-master along with the blue second hand is one aspect people love about this watch. You have to see it in person to realize how much the text and seconds hand pop out to improve the watch experience. The quality of the text on the dial is also top-notch and has no issue we could spot or highlight under the macro. The dial is where the watch steals the show with those sunburst lines that are absolutely spectacular.
The way the dial plays with the light is truly mesmerizing and the rhodium color along with the sunburst finish does make the watch overall very interesting and unique in all different lighting with how it plays with the light depending upon the dial angle to the light source.
The finish and polishing on the hands is as expected, on par with the standard Yachtmaster comes with and the joint for the hands also passes our test for attention to detail, with the exception for painting, and you can see on the image below, the borders of the paint show slack workmanship but this isn’t the worst we have seen in a Rolex.
The watch comes with beautifully polished center links and brushed side links on the bracelet. The bracelet finish seems to be similar to the one on GMTs or Datejust. Overall it’s an impressive level of detail if we compare this with other Rolex models.
Before you get too excited, just to confirm that the undersides of the hands, unfortunately, are still not polished or even machined. It’s not surprising though as we have never seen a Rolex that has had the undersides polished but we do hope to see one someday soon.
On the wrist the watch feels far smaller than you would expect, knowing that it was a 40-millimeter case watch. It’s easy to believe without trying this watch on the wrist that it would be the same as the Rolex Submariner, but as we covered in our other articles, the case size is not always the best criteria of choosing the watch that will fit your wrist.
This watch feels far smaller than Rolex Submariner while it still shares the same case size of 40 millimeters. The lug to lug of this watch is 47.5 millimeter and lug width is also modest 2.5 millimeter only.
Then the watch comes with all polished cases to complement the smaller and luxurious looks.
So this watch is something between Rolex five-digit 40 millimeter watches and the current Rolex six-digit 40-millimeter ceramic watches with the maxi cases. It comes with polished center links and flip-lock clasp with no quick micro-adjustments on the go, but the clasp does come with a five-millimeter extension link to sweeten the experience.
If you wanted to buy a Rolex Submariner on 40-millimeter care size but was put off by the larger maxi case and only wanted something slightly smaller to contour perfectly on your wrist, we can pretty much guarantee you this watch would be your answer.
Rolex Yacht-master is truly a watch for you if you lived a Rolex Submariner but always found it a little too basic with all-steel looks or maybe although you love the design and looks but found the 49-millimeter lug to lug and maxi case as too big or too angular. Or even if you wanted the actual Submariner but always thought how good it would have been if the bezel was bi-directional and even if you had or still have Submariner but wanted to step up the game and enjoy the same looks and design, but add a touch of luxury with precious metal and polished looks, Yachtmaster will be the only watch to take all the boxes and bring you the smile.