Rolex’s new Yacht-Master is discreet with just a touch of luxe.
HERE’S THE THING: we like rooting for the underdog—David over Goliath, Apple over Microsoft (in the old days) and small batch roasters over coffee chains.
At this year’s Basel fair, as everybody oohed and aahed over Rolex’s new Chronergy escapement in the new Day-Date 40, or fawned over the rainbow-dipped, bling-tastic Datejust Pearlmaster 39, we quietly admired a slick, more discreet number that was almost eclipsed by the other more prominent novelties.
This timepiece that caught our attention—and held it—was the updated Yacht-Master, striking in a new blackand-rose gold getup. Black ceramic and 18-carat Everose gold, to be precise. In most cases—say in interior decoration or festive settings—the use of black and yellow gold are still classic and classy. But it can appear a little dated on timepieces, harking back to the ’80s and early ’90s when many watches sported this combination. The fusion of black and rose gold, on the other hand, offers a stylish, updated look that is contemporary and chic.
A chic vibe is exactly what you’d hope to create when taking your cruiser out for a spin—and there could be no better watch to embody this stylish energy. The Yacht-Master occupies a unique position in Rolex’s portfolio, somewhere between a powerful tool and a stylish dress watch. Among the Oysters, it’s neither as utilitarian as the Submariner or Daytona, nor as dressy as the President. Designed for captains of cruise ships as much as for captains of industry, it can afford to be dandier than its more sober, functional cousins, but more robust than its black-tie-ready counterparts.
In that sense, the Yacht-Master’s new livery is perfect—much more so, we feel, than the pairing of blue and Rolesium (Rolex’s proprietary steel and platinum alloy), or the grey and Rolesium combination of earlier references. While stately and robust, they somehow lack that oomph that the new version seems to dish out in spades.
Material change aside, what’s also noteworthy is the new Oysterflex bracelet, composed of a flexible blade made of titanium-and-nickel alloy, and then over-moulded with black elastomer. This high-performance rubbery material is more resistant to the effects of sunlight, seawater, wind and perspiration than steel, and also less prone to scratches. The black ceramic bezel also affords a further level of protection, while the raised and polished numerals contrast with the matte surface for easy readability.
The watch comes in two sizes—40mm and 37mm. Beating at the heart of the larger model is Rolex’s trusty Calibre 3135, which also powers the Datejust, Deepsea, Sea-Dweller 4000 and Submariner. At the core of the smaller model throbs Calibre 2236, which was introduced last year in the Datejust Pearlmaster 34. If you recall, Calibre 2236 was noted for its use of a Syloxi hairspring, Rolex’s first silicon-based hairspring. (All other calibres employ the Parachrom hairspring, an alloy composed of niobium, zirconium and a small percentage of oxygen.)
However, both Syloxi and Parachrom are anti-magnetic, and there’s no significant advantage that one has over the other. So while we may be inclined to think of 37mm models as more suitable for ladies, there’s no reason why this Yacht-Master can’t also be worn by men who are slender of wrist, or who simply prefer a more discreet timepiece ( your cruiser is showy enough, after all).
Top: Pyster Perpetual Date Yacht-Master 40.