Rolex Yacht-Master 226659

The Rolex Yacht-Master 226659 was introduced in 1992, so only a relatively new member of the Oyster family. Now, 27 years later, they introduce something big, bold and in white gold.

Although a bit underwhelmed at first based on the press images, the new Rolex Yacht-Master 226659 did not disappoint. I feel kinda old realizing that I vividly remember the introduction of the Rolex Yacht-Master reference 16622. When the Yacht-Master was introduced in 1992, it was only in yellow gold. A watch that wasn’t meant as a divers watch, with its bi-directional bezel and water resistance of ‘just’ 100 meters. It was meant and still is, as a lifestyle piece rather than a tool watch.
There’s also a Yacht-Master II with regatta timer, which is perhaps a bit more functional for those who actually use it on a sailing boat, but the regular Yacht-Master is a luxury timepiece with some elements from their other ‘Professional’ watches. So anyway, when Rolex introduced the steel and platinum (bezel and dial in solid platinum) with reference 16622, it resulted in a long waiting list (yes, even back then). However, it soon resulted in one of the models you could actually pick up for way less money in the pre-owned market than, let’s say, a Submariner or GMT-Master, despite the use of platinum. Below, an image of the Rolex Yacht-Master Rolesor (ref. 116655) from the current collection, introduced in 2016 (click here).

The popularity recently increased again, with their new models and dial variations. In 2015, Rolex introduced a variation of the Yacht-Master that shows some similarities to the watch we are looking at today. That Rolex Yacht-Master 116655 was also in full gold and with the Oysterflex bracelet (which is actually a strap). If I am not mistaken, it was the first watch to use the Oysterflex. Last week, we saw a new addition to the Yacht-Master family, another version in precious metal on an Oysterflex bracelet. This time, however, Rolex increased the size from 40mm to 42mm. Meet the new Rolex Yacht-Master 226659 .

Based on the first pictures that I saw, I didn’t realize it was in white gold. But during our meeting with Rolex in Baselworld, there couldn’t be any misunderstanding. The colour of white gold has a different hue than that of steel, and when you pick up the watch, of course, you will immediately notice that it is a precious metal instead of stainless steel.

The dial of the Rolex Yacht-Master 226659 is distinctive due to its black colour with large white hour markers. Unlike the Everose version of 2015, the printing of the ‘Yacht-Master’ writing is in white instead of red. As always, the hour markers and hands are also made of gold. The distinctive black bezel of the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 is made of ceramic with a black Cerachrom insert. It features raised numerals and graduations with a polished finish. As written above, this bezel is also bi-directional (instead of uni-directional which is the case with Rolex divers watches). I always find the actual ‘wear’ of a modern 40mm sports Rolex to be larger than the official diameter. This 42mm Rolex Yacht-Master definitely wears bigger than 40mm, but due to the sleek lugs, it is not that much larger on the wrist than my modern Rolex Submariner for example.
At least once a year Rolex introduces a product which is a high-end, albeit extremely understated luxury watch product. I’ve edited this article a bit from how it was originally published because I used the term “F-You watch” without properly explaining the term to all members of the aBlogtoWatch audience. This term is used often by certain watch collectors and it isn’t an insult to anyone that made or wears the watch (not at all). It is a playful way of explaining the psychology at play when someone chooses a high-end product that isn’t noticeable as a high-end product to all but a select few who can identify it for what it is. For 2019, that type of product from Rolex is the 18k white gold and 42mm-wide new ref. 226659 Yacht-Master 42, that I also like to call the “Yacht-Master Noir.”

The F-You watch, in general, serves a very specific value for wealthy watch enthusiasts. F-You watches are always expensive but are meant to look as though they aren’t nearly as expensive as they are. Not that F-You watches look cheap, rather, they are designed to not look very expensive when viewed from afar. The perfect F-You watch looks ordinary or unremarkable (perhaps generic) to an ordinary onlooker, but can quickly be identified as being expensive to the trained eye (i.e., someone so trained in watch prices they would know its value and also be cognizant that other non-watch enthusiasts might likely mistake its value).