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Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch Review: Rolex 116681 Yachtmaster

Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch Review: Rolex 116681 Yachtmaster

The Rolex Yachtmaster 116681

The year 2007 was when Rolex proved they could only be taunted. So much so by detractors for the lack of complications in their range. Right before they would come out swinging.

It’s long been the anti-Rolex league’s favorite go-to criticism. Again, holding up the Swiss giant’s catalog of simple. It’s an almost minimalist, three-hand watch and compares them to the functional pieces. From the likes of Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantine.

The Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch is an incredible watch for its many features.

Rolex 116681 Yachtmaster review

Did Rolex lack the imagination to compete with the sky charts?  And the moon orbits of other watchmakers? Or was it the technical prowess they were missing?

Rolex took it with their usual granite stoicism for decades. With the modesty of the Day-Date’s dual calendar. Or the Daytona’s chronograph as extravagant as they were prepared to go.

Then, with an almost audible sigh of resignation. They released the first of the Yacht-Master II series.

The Yacht-Master II 116681 is a watch intended for those in the yachting community.

The Yacht-Master II 116681 is a watch intended for those in the yachting community.

Like the original Yacht-Master in no way whatsoever. This hulking great vibrant behemoth contains one of the most impressive complications ever. And it is shoehorned inside the creations of any watch brand.

As a product, it could also serve as the dictionary definition of the word ‘niche’. Powered by a new caliber that required more than 35,000 man-hours to devise. The end result was a watch that’s sole purpose was to help yacht skippers coordinate. 

It is a particularly small target for the marketing department to aim for. Besides, its looks have split opinions and are a world away from the handsome elegance. That has been the Rolex hallmark for over 100 years. The Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch has won plenty of fans.

Its concept and sheer audacity have also silenced many of the brand’s critics. While not exactly opening the floodgates for a slew of multifunction models. To come pouring out of their Geneva HQ. Rolex has at least proved that they should decide to mix it up in the world of complications.

The one thing that any horologist or Rolex fan will notice about the Yacht Master-II. It is how starkly different it is from any other watch in the Oyster family. It’s as wide as a Deepsea, as sleek as a Daytona, and has a Sky-Dweller-like aesthetic. In many ways, the Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch has a lot in common with the Deepsea. 

They’re both designed for similar aquatic environments.

Then both 44mm in size and both designed with very specific purposes in mind. Like the Deepsea, this has been designed to resist insanely-high atmospheric pressures. Which only a few people that own them will encounter. The Yachtmaster-II has an equally specialist purpose – sailing regatta timing.

The first of the series was unveiled, available in either yellow or white gold finishes. In 2011, the Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch appeared. It appeared a canny Rolesor variant, which blended 904L steel with Rolex’s warm Everose gold. The combination went a long way in toning down some of the Yacht-Master’s color scheme. The eccentricities and making it a little easier on the eye.

The 44mm case, the largest in the Rolex fleet, affords a large surface area for the dial designers to play with. And it’s just as well. There is a lot of information displayed on the watch’s face. But the logical placement of each element gives it legible readability.

At the top is a horseshoe-shaped track numbered ten. The starting gun in a regatta is preceded by a warning signal, either five or ten minutes beforehand. It informs participants the countdown has begun. The Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch curved gauge is there to time the flying start. The long dagger-like hand marks the seconds. While the arrow-tipped hand displays the minutes.

However, the clever bit comes should our yacht skipper need to reset his countdown for any reason. The Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch is the first in the world to feature a mechanical memory. And it allows the regatta timer to reset to the nearest second as needed be to synchronized.  So, should the countdown have been triggered too early or too late, it’s a simple step to bring it back in line.

The Yacht-Master is a highly complicated watch.

The key to all this functionality lies in the Yacht-Master’s component. The bright blue bezel with its oversized, golden numerals. More than simply being the watch’s border, the bezel is central to its overall operation.

Directly linked to the internal movement, the Ring Command Bezel, to give it its proper title. And unlocks the programmable actions of the watch. It does that by rotating it counter-clockwise through 90 degrees.

With the bezel activated, the crown can be used to set the countdown duration. And also the two pushers at the two and four o’clock positions start and stop the chronograph.

It sounds like a convoluted affair. But in reality, there is a beautifully designed intuitiveness. To get the most out of the Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch. The Rolex engineers have pared down the process as much as possible. While still retaining all the necessary performance.

Underneath everything lies the movement. The original references were released with the Cal. 4160, a heavily reworked version of the Daytona’s Cal. 4130, complete with the vertical clutch. That eliminates backlash on the chronograph seconds hand.

By 2013, Rolex had perfected the purpose-built Cal. 4161 specifically for the Yacht-Master. Their most component-heavy caliber to date, it is constructed from 360 separate parts. 

As well as the improved accuracy and shock resistance provided by including Rolex’s. The 31 jewel, high beat movement also has an increased power reserve.

How does the timer work?

The regatta timer function has been achieved thanks to Rolex in-house designed movements. That sports a mind-blowing 360 parts and massive 72-hour power reserve. Though it will seldom be used in its intended environment. The regatta timing feature is a beautiful complication that should be experienced. Even so, we’ll try and explain it here. 

The complication functions as a 10-minute countdown timer. For counting down to race start times. To set the timer, you first have to set the crown to the winding position. And then push in the lower chronograph pusher. This in turn allows you to set the bezel all the way back to the 10-minute mark. Just before you select your desired countdown time. 

You then reset the bezel accordingly. This causes the lower chronograph pusher to release, and off you go. Still with us? Even if you’re not a sailor, there are many uses for a 10-minute countdown timer.  Whether it’s sporting or merely boiling an egg.

Around the dial

The movement aside, the Rolex Yachtmaster-II dial is a real showstopper. Which features an 18-carat Everose gold. Luminescent hour markers and gold 60-second subdial. Plus a nautical blue and red regatta timer. Though it might seem a little complicated at first. But once you understand what everything does, the dial is super easy to read. 

The noticeable feature of the Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch is the blue bezel. This is in everose gold that matches the crown and chronograph pushers. And as we’ve established, it’s not only there to look nice – it has a functional purpose as well.

The case and bracelet have been finished to a very high standard by Rolex’s artisanal polishing team.  Just make sure you and everyone else around you are wearing sunglasses if you take this out on a sunny day. It comprises a mix of stainless steel and 18 carats rose gold. Which runs all the way through the high-polished center links and even through the clasp? The clasp itself closes like a bank vault. Having a satisfying click that assures you your investment is nice and safe on the wrist. Like other Rolex sports models. The Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch bracelet has the option to micro-adjust. Allowing for 5mm either way as your wrist expands or contracts with use.

Buying Pre-Owned Vs New Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch

Buying Pre-Owned Vs New Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch

The key difference in buying a pre-owned Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch or a new one is the price. For a retail model, you will pay a premium – especially if you choose one of the precious metal models. On the secondary market, you can get a Yacht-Master for a much lower price. And many collectors find this option a better value for their investment. 

However, this is still dependent on the specifics about the watch which you can get an idea of in the chart above. The price of a pre-owned Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch will always vary. Depending on factors like its alloy, and the year it was produced. The condition and whether it is a luxury-oriented Yacht-Master. Or even a sporty and purpose-built Yacht-Master II.

Often, many collectors turn to the second-hand market to buy a Rolex Yacht-Master. Of course, the price is a big factor. But due to the durability and overall build quality. A used Rolex Yacht-Master represents a competitive offering. Because this watch is purpose-built to withstand weather and water. They tend to age well even if they have been worn, loved, and used. 

Another reason that collectors turn to the second-hand market. Is to get their hands on early models. Since the Yacht-Master has only been around for about 30 years. It is still quite easy to track down some of the early references. This is a great opportunity for collectors who not only love the Yacht-Master as a watch. But who also wants to make a smart investment for their collection. And this has great potential to increase in value.

Celebrities Who Wear the Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch

Celebrities Who Wear the Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch

Rolex’s most bold and luxurious watches are popular among the world’s most famous celebrities. One of the most well-known A-listers to sport the Yacht-Master is Mark Wahlberg, who is already a big Rolex fan. 

We’ve seen him out and about in a solid 18k yellow gold Rolex Yacht-Master II. This pops against that blue ceramic bezel. Mark has no trouble making a statement with his watches. And that’s clear with this stunning timepiece.

Tennis champion Roger Federer also sports the top-of-the-line 18k white gold. While DeGeneres is often spotted wearing her 18k Everose gold. Yacht-Master 40 with a black Cerachrom bezel and a black Oysterflex bracelet. 

Is the Rolex Yacht-Master A Good Investment?

Yes. The Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch is a good investment. For collectors for two main reasons. For one, this watch has held great value because of their uniqueness and sportiness. But, at the present time, they remain somewhat undervalued. Compared to their siblings in the Rolex catalog. Consequently, they offer significant potential for appreciation in the future. 

Secondly, the Rolex Yacht-Master is a luxury watch. And is often outfitted in precious metals. These precious metals allow them to hold great value as the years go on. And their premium construction guarantees that they will always be worth something.

What Was The Rolex Yacht-Master Built To Do?

The Rolex Yacht-Master was first created as a luxury sports watch. Whereas the Yacht-Master II was built as a professional regatta timer with a luxury flare. Comparatively, the Yacht-Master can time events up to 60 minutes. And the Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch is outfitted with a countdown timer. And having flyback or fly-forward functionality to use when timing out a regatta race.

How Do You Use The Yacht-Master Ii?

While the Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watches look quite complicated. Rolex has made sure that using it is actually quite intuitive. After setting the adjustable countdown timer to your desired setting. You can then start the time. Press the top button to start the countdown timer. Then pressing the top button a second time will stop the timer. But, pressing the bottom button while the chronograph is running. That will adjust the timer forwards or backward to the nearest minute. — allowing it to be synchronized to the official race clock.

How Can I Spot A Fake Rolex Yacht-Master?

As with any Rolex watch, the clues are in the details. When it comes to the Yacht-Master, you’re going to want to look at details. Details like the adjustable countdown timer. This is complicated, making it almost impossible for fake counterfeit watches to replicate. Additionally, Yacht-Master models are luxury sports watches. Which are crafted from the world’s best materials and to the highest possible standards. If you notice any defects like dial printing or finishing looks less than perfect. There is a good chance that you are dealing with a fake Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch.

The Rolex Yachtmaster luxury watch at Diamonds by Raymond Lee

The pink gold elements—on the bezel numerals. The crown and pushers, and on the snailing around the seconds subdial. Which are echoed along with the center links of the Oyster bracelet. And softens some of the brashness of the all-steel or yellow gold versions.

As a variant, it’s still a definite eye-catcher but one that keeps a more understated dignity. It has retained graceful proportions, especially for such a large piece. And one that crams in so much functionality. While it has an undeniable heft, it can be worn all day. And the watertight Oyster case ensures it’s more than a match for the rigors of a life on the ocean.



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