One thing everyone seems to know about Rolex is their insistence on obsessive secrecy, since up there with a reputation for making some of the finest watches in the business. While this aura of the strong and silent type has gone a long way in securing their enigmatic status, it offers some people a certain license to make up their own stories about the brand, unencumbered by anything as mundane as facts, safe in the knowledge they’re unlikely to be corrected officially.
One of these countless rumors, which you can choose to believe or not as you see fit, is concerned with the inspiration behind the Yacht-Master model by the replica Rolex.
There is a story that during the eighties, Rolex was searching to completely transform the design of their most iconic watch, the Submariner, because…well, who knows? The Sub had been the brand’s most beloved and successful creation pretty much since its birth. Revamping its design would have been as unthinkable and bad as changing the recipe for Coca Cola.
Perhaps learning from the debacle and utter blind fury that greeted the launch of ‘New Coke’ in 1985, the Rolex determined against the introduction of a modernized Submariner, but didn’t want to altogether shelve the latest design they had crafted. Finally, it was decided this new model could be touted as a more luxurious nautically themed watch; no longer a tool for underwater adventurers, but something set to look more at home on a polished teak deck or lounging in the privileged environs of the yacht club.
The Rolex replica doesn’t rush themselves to bring out all-new watches. After the Yacht-Master, it would take them a further 20 years to make another one, when the Sky-Dweller put in an appearance in 2012. Their ethos has always been one of relentless improvements to existing designs instead of constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s a philosophy that has worked spectacularly.
Surely, in the Yacht-Master’s case, ‘new’ is a fairly loose term. When this fake model was unveiled, the similarities to the Submariner were glaringly obvious, in an ‘if it ain’t broke’ kind of way. Rolex made just a few distinctions between the two; initially only available with an 18k gold case, it was water proof to 100m as opposed to 300m for the diver’s watch. The solid gold bezel rotated in either direction, rendering it of little use for underwater timing, while softer, more rounded dimensions underlined its luxurious aspirations. Other than that, the two replica watches shared a movement, the caliber 3135, along with similar hands and an identical dial layout.
If the Submariner was a Land Rover, gorgeous in a tough, utilitarian, getting-things-done kind of way, this new Yacht-Master had the opulent bearing and imperious manners of a Range Rover—still extremely capable underneath, but a bit too pretty to go anywhere near the rough stuff.
Perhaps owing to its close resemblance to the Submariner in every way except price, the Yacht-Master has never quite matched its incredible popularity, although initial waiting lists were formidable on its release. The Rolex crafted the watch from a variety of precious materials, including their two patented alloys Rolesor and Rolesium over the years, a combination of gold and steel, and platinum and steel respectively. The replica rolex Yacht-Master also became the first Oyster Professional watch to be made available in a mid-size at 35mm, alongside the ladies and full-size men’s models.