Rolex Yacht-Master II History: A look at Rolex’s boldest sport watch 

Upon launching in 2007, the Yacht-Master II was unlike any other Rolex. It was big, bold, and complex, taking the brand away from the traditional style it was renowned for and propelling it into more controversial territory.

Alongside its 1992 predecessor, the Yacht-Master II stands out in Rolex’s comprehensive collection of watches, with visually striking features that nod towards the brand’s sailing heritage. 

Here, we look closer at the Yacht-Master II, including its magnificent sporting features and why this unapologetically daring Rolex remains one of the best watches for sailors today.

Rolex Yacht-Master 2 presented in an official Rolex box with papers and license. The gift box is race car green, as is the wallet that holds the model's license. The watch is silver with a blue bezel.

Table of contents

  1. Rolex Yacht-Master II History
  2. What is the purpose of the Yacht-Master II?
  3. Is the Yacht-Master II waterproof?
  4. What is the difference between the Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II?
  5. How to use the Yacht-Master II regatta countdown timer
  6. Should you add the Yacht-Master II to your collection?
  7. Shop the Yacht-Master collection at Miltons Diamonds

Rolex Yacht-Master II History

Released in 2007, the Yacht-Master II is a professional regatta chronograph designed with experienced yachtists and sailors in mind. It features the world’s first programmable countdown with a mechanical memory, allowing the wearer to precisely time and follow regatta races in accordance with official starting procedures.

When the Yacht-Master II was first launched, it immediately separated traditional Rolex collectors from those who delighted in change. Those who preferred Rolex’s more conservative styles disapproved of its large 44mm Oyster case, which is considerably larger than that of any other Rolex. However, despite causing controversy, there was no mistaking the Yacht-Master II’s efficiency as a professional sailing tool. 

Silver Yacht-Master 2 with 3-link bracelet. White dial and navy blue rotating bezel.

Rolex Yacht-Master II 116680 – Gents Watch – 2018

With its 90-degree rotatable ceramic bezel, chroma light display, and matching Oyster bracelet, the Yacht-Master II remains a proficient tool for professional seafaring activities. With its one-of-a-kind regatta chronograph feature, it excels in speed, precision and synchronisation. Moreover, it is the perfect tool watch for any sporting enthusiast who is not afraid of a standout, unorthodox design.

What is the purpose of the Yacht-Master II?

The Yacht-Master II offers experienced sailors and yachting enthusiasts a reliable way to time regatta races. However, it can also be used to time non-sporting activities. It is the first Rolex design to feature a regatta chronograph, a timing feature that allows the wearer to track sailing events with a 10-minute countdown.

Is the Yacht-Master II waterproof?

The original 1992 Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II are water-resistant up to 100 metres or 330 feet. They feature an innovative screw-down crown system and secure Oyster case, which protects the watch’s mechanics from moisture. This system was invented by Rolex in 1926 and continues to be featured in Rolex sports watches today. 

Gold Yacht-Master 2 with blue bezel

Rolex Yacht-Master II 116688 – Men’s Watch – White Dial – 2013

What is the difference between the Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II?

The Yacht-Master II launched 15 years after its predecessor. However, despite sharing a name with the Yacht-Master, it has little in common with the original 1992 model.

Both watches share a nautical-inspired theme and are bound by Rolex’s rich sailing history, which dates back to the 1950s when Rolex partnered with the New York Yacht Club to supply Rolex watches for professional sailors. However, while the Yacht-Master II was designed for function, its predecessor was crafted with luxury in mind. 

On the left is a 2015 Rolex Yacht-Master. It is two-toned, with silver outer chain links and a gold middle link. The bezel is gold and the dial is white.
On the right is a gold Yacht-Master 2 with blue bezel. The images side by side highlight the glamour of the Yacht-Master 2, which is renowned for its bold design that steers away from traditional Rolex watches.

The Yacht-Master 16623  and the Yacht-Master II 116688 

Upon initial inspection, size is the most obvious difference between the Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II. The Yacht-Master II features a 44mm Oyster case, the largest in Rolex’s expansive collection. Meanwhile, the original model is much smaller, with the largest size variant being 42mm and the smallest 29mm. 

The Yacht-Master II also has an extremely busy dial design which, at first glance, can appear overwhelming. However, despite featuring complex technology, it is easy to use. It features a running seconds subdial, a countdown display, and a central chronograph which can fly back or forward while in motion. Meanwhile, the Yacht-Master has an easily recognisable bidirectional bezel and date display, and smooth edges and luxurious styling soften its functionality.

However, perhaps the biggest difference between the Yacht-Master II and its predecessor is the regatta time function. The Yacht-Master II’s innovative regatta timer, featuring a first-ever programmable countdown with mechanical memory, allows experienced sailors to precisely time and follow regatta races like never before.

How to use the Yacht-Master II regatta countdown timer

The Yacht-Master II features a high-precision countdown timer that lets the wearer easily track time in a regatta race. However, it can also be used for non-sporting activities. Here, we share how to use the regatta countdown timer correctly.

Beautiful silver and rose gold tones make this Rolex Yacht-Master 2 a stunning timepiece. The model has a white dial framed by a blue bezel, which features rose gold numbering. The Rolex chain link is multi-tonal, with silver outerlinks and a rose gold link running through the middle.

Rolex Yacht-Master II 116681 – Gents Watch – 2014

  1. Press the top push button to start and stop your countdown timer. 
  2. Press the bottom push button to reset the timer completely.
  3. The Yacht-Master II’s innovative fly-back and forward function separates it from other chronographs, allowing you to save valuable time during a race. To use the timer’s fly back and forward feature, lightly tap the bottom push button while the timer is running. The timer will reset to the closest minute while still running, so you can start timing the next duration instantly. 

Should you add the Yacht-Master II to your collection?

Despite its ability to divide opinion, the Yacht-Master II makes a fantastic addition to any Rolex collection. Its one-of-a-kind regatta timer function, bold dial, and oversized bezel ensure it stands out amongst other chronographs. Moreover, despite serving an extremely niche audience, the Yacht-Master II has attracted Rolex collectors of all kinds, making it an extremely sought-after model.

Like all Rolex watches, the Yacht-Master II is beautifully crafted with precious metals and materials and features Rolex’s magnificent craftsmanship, making this stunning timepiece a beautiful addition to any collection. 

Rolex Yacht-Master 2 presented on a man's wrist.

Shop the Yacht-Master collection at Miltons Diamonds

With its attention-grabbing design and innovative regatta function, the Yacht-Master II is perhaps Rolex’s boldest creation. However, despite its ability to divide opinion, there is no denying this oversized chronograph is a magnificent sporting tool watch, offering Rolex collectors a standout accessory to cherish.

Like all Rolex watches, the Yacht-Master II embodies the magnificent grandeur the Swiss brand is renowned for. However, it also offers collectors something special, with a luxurious look that embraces Rolex’s overarching values of excellence and its rich sailing heritage.

Our Rolex Yacht-Master II collection at Miltons Diamonds offers genuine Rolex models in various finishes, complete with genuine Rolex boxes, papers, and manuals. Shop the collection today and find the perfect Rolex watch!

Looking for more traditional Rolex watches? Shop our complete Rolex watches collection.

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