Stick to the story. No matter what happens, stick to the story. The trouble with watch brands is that their stories have strange plot twists. Sometimes they get away with it. Most of the time, though, what was once historical storytelling gradually becomes a hard-to-follow, fantastic fable. The tale of the Rolex Yacht-Master is one of these dramatic course changes. The original 1992 Yacht-Master in yellow gold started a saga of luxury that got a grandiose Part II in the shape of the Yacht-Master 42. Come 2023, and the latest iteration of the Yacht-Master steps forward. And it does so completely stripped of all its precious metal that always distinguished the watch. The Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium takes on the role of a competitive ocean racer. Or does it? Take a plunge with me into a confusing origin story.

There’s nothing wrong with a good story. And up to a point, when we’re talking watch myths, I think the saying “never let the truth get in the way of a good story” is defendable. Take the Breguet/Marat anecdote set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, for instance. That tale should be told as lively as possible. But in more recent stories where watches are directly involved, facts rule supreme. So when Rolex got the idea in the 1980s to modernize its Submariner tool watch and something radically different was the result, it eventually is launched under the name Yacht-Master in 1992, and that’s the unshakable foundation under the story of that particular watch. The Yacht-Master is, essentially, a “Super Sub,” but it was forced to live on the water’s surface, not below it. The new Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium is again a veritable “Super Sub.”

Rolex Yacht-Master 42

The origin story of the Rolex Yacht-Master is a lie

By forcing the watch that was meant to be a better Submariner to stay on the surface, Rolex denied the watch its true purpose — to shine underwater. Instead, the watch got dressed up with precious metals, and that started its life of lies. It’s a bit like keeping an orca in a bowl that’s barely big enough to house a goldfish. The Yacht-Master was presented as a luxurious yachting watch and began its life in many sizes and disguises.


I’ve never been a big fan of the Yacht-Master. But the 16622 paired with a light blue strap didn’t look or wear bad at all. Unfortunately, since I had not given the backstory of the watch too much thought, I couldn’t feel the “pain” the watch on my wrist was clearly in. Only when I saw the new Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium was I able to see through the storytelling and discover the painful truth.

Rolex Yacht-Master 42 RLX Titanium

Rolex admits its mistake and corrects it

With the launch of the new Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium Rolex (€14,000) admits its big mistake. That’s because the new watch is made from the same lightweight, high-tech, non-precious alloy that Rolex first used in the monstrous and purely functional Deepsea Challenge. By presenting the Yacht-Master 42 in this most instrumental of alloys, Rolex no longer denies the Yacht-Master its destiny as a “Super Sub.”

Allow me a sidestep. Do you know what happened to the younger brother of Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King? Well, his brother, “Monsieur” Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, when he was still a young child, was dressed as a girl. To prevent a possible internal struggle for the throne between the two brothers, the mother of the two, Queen Anne, together with the mighty Cardinal Mazarin, decided to emasculate the young lad by dressing him like a girl. Did Rolex know of this terrible historical tale? Did the Crown copy the strategy to “deal” with the Yacht-Master? It sure looks that way. Queen Anne and Cardinal Mazarin never corrected or apologized for their actions. Rolex atoned for its mistake somewhat by finally allowing the Yacht-Master to be what it was meant to be — a superior Submariner for the next generation.

Yacht-Master 42

The super tool watch that is the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium

Since Daan already wrote a hands-on featuring the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium, I will stick to a few words that tell of my first encounter with the watch during Watches and Wonders 2023. I didn’t really like the watch’s looks when I first saw it behind glass in its showcase. But that changed quickly once I got my hands on it during the press presentation. In the hands, and more importantly, on the wrist, the Yacht-Master 42 in its gray, stealthy RLX titanium looks and feels like a superior tool watch.

Especially the sinister-looking matte Cerachrom bezel with polished numerals in combination with the gray hue of the titanium. Those features plus the black of the dial clearly display the deepest essence of the Yacht-Master. A touch of luxury is the superb finishing of the watch and bracelet. Those subtle, polished touches bring a sparkle to the dominant gray attire.

Rolex Yacht-Master 42 RLX Titanium

Let the healing begin

The Yacht-Master was meant to be better than the Submariner, period. But the watch was denied its rightful place on the Rolex throne by the “king” itself. Thirty-one years after presenting a Sub 2.0 and positioning it close to but not in its natural habitat, Rolex recognizes the mistake it once made. And Rolex is also big enough to not only admit it but also to right it. The painful truth is out. Now let the healing of the Rolex Yacht-Master begin with the new Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium.

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