Those with a keen eye will have witnessed how the greatest, most successful and most elegant individuals and brands of our times occasionally indulge in some rather obscure, lesser-known activities: for Rolex this under-the-radar field is that of regatta yacht races. It is for these cutting edge, utterly complicated races that Rolex has developed and produced one of its most complex timepieces ever: the Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II.
The rugged exterior safeguards countless exceptional details – be our guest to take a closer look at these micro-engineered marvels Rolex has for long been a strong supporter of some of the most exclusive yacht races and yacht clubs of the world – including the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Swan Cup, as well as the New York and Monaco Yacht Clubs and the Royal Yacht Squadron of the UK; just to name a few. It a direct consequence of such involvements that a special watch is in the assortment of Rolex, designed to enable skippers to time the mind-bendingly complicated race start procedures of regattas – and do so in an intuitive, precise and reliable fashion.
The Yacht-Master II is special in that it blends scarcely encountered complexity with a high-functionality, robust presentation: the Yacht-Master II is remarkable not merely for its fantastic caliber, but also for its durable, rugged construction. Let us now discover what it truly is capable of.
Regatta chronograph. Officially, it is after this specific type of yacht races that this oddball complication, this reverse-timer is called, capable of an up-to-10-minute-long countdown. This far from all though: Rolex knew that to stay in tune with the rules of regatta races, this countdown timer would have to be freely adjustable in one minute increments: the race of a regatta starts what is somewhere in between a 5 to 10-minute period that the skippers have to adapt to when they position their boats for the start. It is in this high-intensity couple of minutes that they need a reliable, easy-to-use timekeeper, and that is precisely what the Yacht-Master II is.
Just like the Sky-Dweller that we are also presenting you next month, the Yacht-Master II also relies on Rolex’s unique Ring Command system: the mechanical brain of the regatta chronograph can be programmed by rotating the bezel by 90 degrees. By doing so, the countdown timer becomes adjustable between 1 and 10 minutes. Once the desired time has been set, said time can be locked into the system, therefore allowing the chronograph to always return to this time every time its reset.
To stay in perfect harmony with the start of the race and the signals of race officials, the Yacht-Master II’s chronograph can be stopped, reset and restarted by the press of a single button – this is called the “fly-back” function. This in itself isa rare extension of a mechanical chronograph, but to be paired with a regatta timer is nothing short of exotic.
All this is made possible by the in-house developed and manufactured Rolex 4161 caliber, as well as the painstakingly perfected connection between the case, movement and Ring Command bezel. The 4161 can only be manufactured with the most modern technologies: it is only this way that a movement with such levels of complexity, automatic winding and regatta-fly-back-chronograph functionality is attainable. Rolex has mastered the use of the UV-LiGA microfabrication technology, allowing for the production of components whose tiny proportions and complex geometry rule out manufacturing by traditional methods. Like all Rolex watches, the Yacht-Master II also comes with the Rolex Superlative Chronometer Certification, assuring its owner that the watch’s movement has been tested and approved by the official and independent COSC chronometer certification, and that the cased-up watch was extensively tested by Rolex in-house to ensure the highest quality standards are present when it comes to the efficiency of the automatic winding water resistance, 3-day power reserve, as well as the -2/+2 second-per-day accuracy.
Seen here is the Yacht-Master II in a Rolesor combination of Oystersteel and Everose gold and solid 18ct yellow gold. A version in all-Oystersteel also exists
Every technical solution, including the Perpetual automatic winding, the Parachrom paramagnetic hairspring, the secure, traversing bridge, the 100-meter water resistant casing and chronograph pushers were engineered with the super tough challenges and situations present aboard the yachts racing for the win at the world’s most competitive regatta races.
The sizable, 44-millimeter-wide Monobloc case is crafted from either Oystersteel or 18ct yellow gold, while the bracelet is available in Oystersteel, a Rolesor combination of Oystersteel and 18ct Everosegold, or 18ct white gold and platinum. In either variant, the clasp is the Oysterlockfolding safety clasp with an Easylink 5mm comfort extension link.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II is not only a tool designed for an exceedingly niche – and just as challenging – race, but much more than that: it is a special timepiece that is unique in the history of Rolex, full with singular engineering solutions; all presented in a wearable, comfortable, but also proudly noticeable package.