It’s no secret that Rolex sports watches have become incredibly hard to find at a retail level. Most fan-favorite models have lengthy waiting lists, and many trade hands on the open market for significant premiums above their original retail prices. However, when it comes to the Rolex Yacht-Master collection, a surprising value proposition exists among all of the hype, and it might just be the brand’s most underrated sports watch.
A True Luxury Sports Watch
While the Rolex Yacht-Master may not have a history that includes military use or the early days of exploration, its intended purpose of being a true luxury sports watch actually best suits the way that most high-end timepieces are worn in the real world. Collectors appreciate Rolex’s sports models for their robust construction and purpose built nature, but most people really just need a durable timepiece with a versatile aesthetic that can make the transition from the beach to the boardroom.
When it comes to Rolex watches that fit this description, there are few candidates more appropriate than the Yacht-Master. Unlike many of the brand’s legendary Professional models, the Rolex Yacht-Master was always intended to be a luxury-oriented sports watch and it truly excels at this core objective. Models from the Yacht-Master collection have highly-practical 60-minute rotating timing bezels and 100 meters of water resistance, yet even the most humble editions feature bezels crafted from either solid gold or platinum.
Retail vs. Pre-Owned Prices
Rolex positions the Yacht-Master as a premium option within its greater sports watch lineup and at a retail level, the Yacht-Master costs more than entry-level options from either the Submariner or GMT-Master II collections. However, it is unlikely that you will be able to find any Rolex sports watches at retail without a wait, and when you start looking at prices on the open market, the Yacht-Master collection becomes a whole lot more appealing.
If you are lucky enough to buy one brand-new from an authorized retailer, the least expensive Rolex Yacht-Master 40 will cost you $12,350. Again, most retailers will have a waiting list, so if you want to get your hands on one today, it will actually set you back around $16,000 to $18,000 when buying from a seller on the open market. A several thousand dollar premium is certainly significant, but when you consider that stainless steel examples of the GMT-Master II are trading hands for values that are anywhere between two and three times their official retail price, the premiums being asked for the Rolex Yacht-Master are ultimately rather reasonable by comparison.
The Value Proposition of the Rolex Yacht-Master
The Rolex Yacht-Master’s closest relative is the Submariner, but the main reason why the least expensive Yacht-Master 40 retails for over $2,000 more than the classic all-black Submariner Date (despite having a lower depth rating) is because it features a bezel crafted from solid 950 platinum. However, if you are shopping for these same models on the open market, pre-owned prices will be incredibly similar and you will even find current-production Yacht-Master watches that cost less than their Submariner counterparts.
This value proposition becomes even more attractive when you start looking at older Yacht-Master models. For example, the reference 16622 is one of only a handful of Rolex sports watches that can still be purchased for under $10k, and it features both a platinum dial and a platinum bezel. Additionally, when you consider that the Yacht-Master is the only Rolex sports watch that is available in multiple case sizes, the fact that the collection doesn’t receive more attention is rather surprising.
With that in mind, 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the Rolex Yacht-Master and British professional sailor and Rolex Ambassador Ben Ainslie has recently been spotted wearing a titanium Yacht-Master 42 prototype. If Rolex releases anything even remotely close to that prototype later this year, you can almost guarantee that the Yacht-Master will no longer be a contender for the title of Rolex’s most underrated sports watch.