The Rolex Yacht-Master II in stainless steel was released at last year’s Baselworld and was one of Rolex’s most popular launches in 2013. The Yacht-Master II was first introduced in 2007 but was only available in gold and bi-color (Rolesium – a Rolex term) versions. That was until this model (Ref. 116680) of the regatta-countdown chronograph watch was released in a 904L stainless steel case with a blue Cerachrom bezel insert.
Rolex Yacht-Master II (Ref. 116680) – Dial
The regatta countdown function is the key feature of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II and is a complication specially developed by Rolex. This complication has a programmable timer that counts down ten minutes, this countdown mechanism was principally designed for regattas and is part of the Rolex 4161 chronograph movement. This movement took 35,000 hours (nearly 4 years) to produce and consists of 360 parts. The countdown mechanism is constructed using a column wheel that extends through the main plate and a vertical clutch.
The countdown function is programmable up to ten minutes and includes the worlds first mechanical “memory” so that it can be reset to the same countdown time period used previously. Programming the countdown is easily done through use of the rotatable ‘Ring Command’ bezel, a Rolex-developed system that connects the bezel to the movement. The Yacht-Master II was one of the first watches in the world that combined functionality between the bezel and the movement. The countdown feature can also be locked and unlocked by twisting the bezel through 90 degrees.
If the countdown was started either too early or too late then it can be synchronized on the fly. This is done by pressing the start/stop button ( located at the 2 o’clock position), and then pressing the reset button, located at the 4 o’clock position, the minute countdown hand then re-positions itsself to the nearest minute while the seconds countdown hand returns to 0. This is an important feature because the timing of the start of a Regatta is crucial.
Rolex Yacht-Master II (Ref. 116680) – Case
The 100 meters water-resistant Oyster case is 44 mm in diameter and much larger than the 40 mm of the original Yacht-Master, and is an exceptionally big watch for Rolex. The middle case is constructed from a solid block of particularly corrosion-resistant 904L steel and the case back is fluted and hermetically screwed down using a proprietary tool used exclusively by Rolex watchmakers. Fitted with the patented Triplock triple-waterproofing system the screw-down winding crown is protected by a crown guard built-into the case middle.
Featuring a Cerachrom insert which is made of extra-hard corrosion-resistant ceramic, the bidirectional rotating Ring Command bezel has engraved numerals and inscription (Yacht -Master II) coated in platinum. The crystal is made of scratch-resistant sapphire.
Rolex Yacht-Master II (Ref. 116680) – Movement
The Rolex Yacht-Master II is powered by the in-house Rolex automatic Caliber 4161 which is a column-wheel chronograph movement that’s been COSC certified as a chronometer. At the heart of the watch the oscillator features one of Rolex’s exclusive developments: the Parachrom hairspring. Unlike conventional oscillator hairsprings which are made of ferromagnetic alloys making them susceptible to magnetic fields and shocks, the Parachrom hairspring is crafted from a paramagnetic alloy making it unaffected by magnetic fields and up to 10 times more resistant to shocks. This in turn makes the watch more accurate. The movement also has a 72 hour power reserve for when the watch is inactive.
Rolex Yacht-Master II (Ref. 116680) – Conclusion and Pricing
Designed to meet the needs of professional sailors the Yacht-Master II stainless steel edition provides a welcome non-precious metal version that could be seen as a more durable and less expensive option. Personally I find it the most pleasing colour combination currently available, its also comes in Everose (Ref. 116681), yellow gold (Ref. 116688) and white gold and platinum (Ref. 116689).
It comes fitted on a solid-link, steel Oyster bracelet featuring Rolex’s hallmark Oysterlock safety clasp to prevent accidental opening and the Rolex-patented Easylink comfort-extension system allowing the wearer to easily increase the bracelet’s length by about five millimeters. The price of the Yacht-Master II in Stainless Steel is around $18,500.