For any true watch lover, there is no doubt the most coveted additions to any sports watch collection are Rolex models. Aviator watches like the Rolex GMT-Master II and the Rolex Submariner hold a beloved place but for some, the ultimate is the Yacht-Master.

Rolex Yacht-Masters are so desirable thanks to the interesting assortment of precious metals, case sizes, bezel styles, and bracelet styles, with dozens of iterations having been released and discontinued in only three decades.

While various momentarily trendy sports watches come and go, the demand for the iconic Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II remains high. Two distinct timepieces that share very similar names!

Let’s take a look at the timeline and history of how these two very special luxury watches came to be.

Timeline & History

1950s - Rolex becomes a member of the very prestigious New York Yacht Club.

1966 to 1967 - Sir Francis Chichester becomes the first person to solo circumnavigate wearing a Rolex Oyster Perpetual bracelet watch.

1992 - Rolex releases its new Yacht-Master collection made entirely from 18K gold.

1994 - Midsize and ladies’ models are added to the Rolex Yacht-Master wristwatch range.

1996 - Further additions of other ladies’ models and two-tone midsize Rolex watches.

1997 - The release of the Rolesium version in stainless steel and platinum bezel models.

2007 - The release of the Rolex Yacht-Master II, the world’s first dive watch with a countdown timer and mechanical memory.

2013 - An in-house update is given to the Yacht-Master II, from the Cal. 4160 to the Cal. 4161.

2019 - Rolex introduces the Yacht-Master 42 to the collection.

Rolex Yacht-Master I & II

Let’s take a closer look at the two Rolex Yacht-Master models including their key features and options.

Rolex Yacht-Master

Case Size: 42, 40, 37, 35, and 29mm.

Material choices: Cerachrom bezel. Case materials 18K yellow gold, 18K white gold, 18K Everose gold, Rolesium, yellow Rolesor, and Everose Rolersor.

Functions: Date display, time with second hand.

Water Resistance: 330 feet or 100 meters.

Bracelet/Strap: Oysterflex bracelet or oyster bracelet.

Rolex Yacht-Master II

Case size: 44mm

Material choices: Everose Rolesor, stainless steel, 18k White Gold, and 18k Yellow Gold.

Functions: Adjustable countdown timer with mechanical memory, time with second hand.

Bezel: Ring command bezel.

Water Resistance: 330 feet or 100 meters.

Bracelet/Strap: Oyster bracelet.

What Are The Main Differences?

The Yacht-Master I is considered the original Rolex sports watch designed and intended for someone to set sail and enjoy aboard a luxury yacht. In comparison, the Yacht-Master II was designed with more precise functionality and many more potential configurations to be a tool watch.

The younger of the two models are equipped with more technology to do things like record timings during racing or a regatta and is therefore thought of as being more of a seafarer’s functional timepiece rather than just an exquisite yachtsman’s accessory.

The most notable difference between Yacht-Master I and Yacht-Master II is size. The Yacht-Master II is only available in case size 44 mm compared to multiple choices for the Yacht-Master I. And, when it comes to styling, only II has the option of a stainless steel version. The II also has the bidirectional rotatable ‘Ring Command bezel’.

Various features and functions are available on either or both I and II, depending on the model. These include a rotating bezel, date window at 3 o’clock, day date, sapphire crystal with cyclops magnification, and choice of Arabic or Roman numerals.

Who Wears A Rolex Yacht-Master?

The answer to this question is pretty much any wearer who has a passion for the craft of a high-caliber Swiss watchmaker, and the budget to be able to afford the very best. Any Rolex Yacht-Master is a perfect choice for fashionistas and sea dwellers alike.

Upon release, the first Yacht-Master became an instant classic, working incredibly well with all kinds of different wardrobe choices and aesthetics. Although it is a sports-oriented watch, there is nothing to stop you from wearing it for any kind of occasion. The iconic looks of the Rolex Yacht-Master make it a statement piece in any setting, not just on a luxury boat.

Some of the best styling tips for the Yacht-Master include:

  • With Bracelets

A great styling option for ladies in particular is to pair their Yacht-Master with several bracelets that feature complementary metals and colors. Something like a two-tone Yacht-Master works perfectly with bangles and bracelets that feature a mix of yellow, white, and rose gold.

  • Matte Black

Black is an eternally stylish color, so opting for a Yacht-Master that boasts a matte black Oysterflex strap is both sporty and hugely fashionable at the same time. Black is also the easiest color to pair with other patterns and shades in an outfit, so choosing a predominantly black watch means that you need not worry about your timepiece clashing with anything else that you are wearing.

If buying a Yacht-Master as a sailing accessory, it depends on whether you want an adornment or a regatta chronograph. for the latter, it has to be the Yacht-Master II.

Celebrities who have been photographed wearing Yacht-Master watches include

David Beckham - Yacht-Master 40

Roger Federer - Rolesium Rolex Yacht-Master II

Mark Wahlberg - Yacht-Master 40

Ellen Degeneres - 18k Everose gold Yacht-Master 40

How Much Is A Rolex Yacht-Master?

Due to factors including its large size, use of precious metals, and complicated movement configuration, Yacht-Masters are among the higher priced and higher value Rolex watches on both the new and pre-owned market.

In the world of pre-owned timepieces, you can expect the price for a Yacht-Master II to start at around $15,000. Because the Yacht-Master II does not feature any diamonds or gemstones, this might seem like a steep price tag, but the value comes from the complexity of the movement that supports a 72-hour power reserve, along with the high demand thanks to the historic reputation.

On the higher end of the things, Yacht-Master watches that are made from yellow gold tend to command the highest prices, and you can expect to pay around $44,000 for a new model, or around $28,000 to get your hands on the same model on the second-hand market.

Buying New Yacht-Master Watches vs. Pre Owned

The obvious key difference between buying a brand new Yacht-Master versus a pre-owned Yacht-Master is the price. For retail models, there is always going to be a premium for being the first owner, especially for the watches that are made from the most precious metals.

When browsing the secondary market, you can certainly find a Yacht-Master for a much lower price, and many find this to be a more preferable option when building a collection. Of course, it will very much be dependent on the specifics of the watch that you are looking for and its condition. The quality is much more variable compared to a brand-new model that you know is always going to be pristine.

The cost of a pre-owned Yacht-Master will be dependent on factors such as its alloy, its condition, the year it was produced, and whether or not it is the original sporty version of the more purpose-built successor.

Thank to the durability and high-quality craftsmanship of the Rolex brand, a second-hand Yacht-Master watch is a very competitive offering on the pre-owned market. Because they are designed to withstand the pressure of the weather and water at sea, they tend to age incredibly well. For this reason, dipping into the second-hand market doesn’t feel like too much of a risk for this particular watch.

Another benefit of opting for pre-owned Yacht-Masters is the fact that collectors have the chance of picking up earlier models, which are generally solid investment pieces. Because the Yacht-Master has only been in production for around 30 years, it is still very common to come across the earlier models on the second-hand market.