Rolex Yachtmaster II: Hands-On Review [116680]

Rolex Yachtmaster II - Held in hands - Review [116680]

The Rolex Watch For The Extrovert

Hands-On Review: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yachtmaster II [116680]

The Rolex Yachtmaster II is a very peculiar watch in that it’s just so spectacularly different to every other watch in the ‘Oyster Perpetual‘ family that Rolex makes! It’s like some rebellious sea-faring child of the Titan 44mm Deepsea [116660] and the more sophisticated 40mm Yacht-Master.

Rolex Yachtmaster II- Hands-On Review [116680] 024

It being similar to the Deepsea in not just size but with the environment that it has been designed for. Whilst the Deepsea may not have any more complications than just a simple date function; it has been designed to solve a remarkably specific problem. Not getting crushed by enormous water pressure under a staggering 3900m (12800ft) of water! Is this a depth that I think many divers (and Rolex Deepsea’s by extension) will find themselves in on a frequent basis – or maybe just once or twice in their lifetime. Once the watch has left the Rolex factory – I think the odds are fairly low that the watch will ever be subjected to such high pressure after initial testing.

Buy the Rolex Yachtmaster II [116680] from our shop here.

Rolex Yachtmaster II- Hands-On Review [116680] 038Although Rolex has never been a company to make watches with tourbillons or carrousel’s, they being a maker of mainly super reliable tool watches (and very expensive ones at that), the Yacht-Master II allows them to flex their horological muscle and make an insanely complicated complication. That solves a very specific problem that very few people will ever face.

Watch looking left with bracelet and clasp - Rolex Yachtmaster II- Hands-On Review [116680]

Tool watches that Rolex make:

  • The Submariner is for divers that need a watch to survive deep dives under water.
  • The Sea-Dweller and Deepsea are just Submariners on steroids. The Deepsea will theoretically survive down to a depth of 3900m (12800ft) underwater; but, the current Guinness World Record for the deepest scuba dive is 332.35 m (1,090 ft 4.5 in) underwater. So the watch can happily endure a depth over 12 times deeper than the deepest human (scuba) dive attained.
  • The Milgauss was made for Scientists being subjected to harsh magnetic fields that would wreak havoc with a conventional mechanical watch.
  • The GMT Master II can tell pilots and frequent flyers the time in more than one time-zone and is easily adjusted to alternate time zones when required.
  • And the Daytona was designed for the demands of professional racing drivers to accurately measure speed and time laps around a track.

So with all the watches that Rolex makes to solve different problems – some of them will get to use their special complication and features significantly more than others. But that’s ok because that’s why Rolex’s watches are so valuable. Their value is not just held in the materials used to make them; but, in the time spent on researching how to make these revolutionary complications, the exemplary finish of the watch, and the Rolex name that assures of the quality and reliability underneath the case back.

The (admittedly rare) problem that the YachtMaster II [116680] solves is as you may have guessed – something to do with yachts. This watch has the fascinating complication of a programmable regatta chronograph.

Rolex Yachtmaster II- Hands-On Review [116680] 027

What Is A Programmable Regatta Chronograph?

As far as complications go the regatta chronograph is certainly a more obscure one. It’s the type of complication that only hardcore watch lovers will be able to explain (or people who happen to own a watch with one).

It is quite simply – a fancy countdown timer. To explain how this watch is so fancy we must go on a voyage of discovery to see where the Yachtmaster II sits in the world of watches.

Cabo San Lucas Race Start 2013 photo D Ramey Logan
Cobo San Lucas Race Start 2013 photo D Ramey Logan By WPPilot (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The Rolex YachtMaster II was designed to meet the needs of professional sailors. It has a:

  • Large legible dial (with luminous fill)
  • Water-resistant casing to 100m underwater
  • Durable construction
  • Push buttons that are easily manipulated – even with cold hands
  • Regatta chronograph – with a flyback and flyforward function for live synchronising
  • Reliable strap and clasp that will keep the watch safely on the wrist

Regatta – is a series of boat races.
A Chronograph – is a timer (in this case counting down).
The programmable part – is the ability to change the duration of the countdown timer (between 1 and 10 minutes).

In a series of yacht races (a regatta) the skipper has to manoeuvre the yacht back and forward in front of the start line, for an allocated amount of time without crossing it. After this specified amount of time, they can cross the start line. Too early and a penalty is incurred, too late and other boats will get there first giving a disadvantage to their team. These countdowns are usually between 5 and 10 minutes long and will be signalled more than once by a gun. This means that if the timer was incorrectly set initially, it can be calibrated on the fly with the flyback and flyfoward function of the movement that resets the seconds counter to the nearest minute on the watch.Rolex Yachtmaster II- Hands-On Review [116680] 042

This being a very technical feat of functionality that Rolex reportedly took over 35,000 hours of development to build the Yacht-Master II’s 4161, automatic regatta chronograph movement. It’s built from 360 components, is certified a Swiss chronometer (COSC), beats at 28,800 vph, contains 31 Jewels, and has an approximate power reserve of 72 hours.

The ‘Programmable Regatta Chronograph’ gives the Yachtmaster II [116680] the ability to set important countdown timers (particularly for skippers of yachts) for a good start in yacht races.

How to operate the programmable Regatta Chronograph?

  1. Unscrew crown to 1st out position
  2. Turn the bezel 90° anti-clockwise
  3. Press pusher at 4 o’clock
  4. Turn crown clockwise to desired timer length
  5. Rotate bezel back to original position
  6. Screw crown back into position
  • Pusher at 2 will stop and start the chronograph.
  • Pusher at 4 will make the chronograph seconds counter fly back to 0 if between 0-30 seconds. If pushed between 30-60 it will make the second counter fly forward to the nearest minute.
  • To reset the regatta chronograph. Push the pusher at 2 and then the one at 4 and it will return to the programmed countdown duration selected at the beginning (1-10 minutes).

Dial close up of Rolex Yachtmaster II- Hands-On Review [116680] square on with time set at ten past ten

Sub-Dial and Regatta Chronograph triangular hand close up - Rolex Yachtmaster II- Hands-On Review [116680]


The Rolex Yachtmaster II is a very loud watch that shouts out for attention from everyone with eyes to see. It’s made for grabbing people’s attention and is perhaps the most unreserved and extroverted watch that Rolex make. Even though the stainless steel [116680] model that I’m reviewing here isn’t made from solid gold like its Yellow Gold and two-tone rose gold siblings, it’s still very eye-catching. Having this watch made in solid gold just amplifies the exuberance of it to a higher level of excess and extravagance.

White Gold YachtMaster II

Black Lamborghini Aventador, pic1
Lamborghini photo By Alf van Beem (Own work) [CCo], via Wikimedia Commons
In my opinion, the 18kt white gold Yacht-Master II [116689] is a bit of a baffling option as it will easily be confused with the stainless steel version, with only the lack of a blue bezel and additional weight of the watch signalling otherwise. The white gold version of the YachtMaster II is a bit like buying a brand new Lamborghini Aventador in black and asking Lamborghini to remove all the badges for you. People who buy big shiny hypercars (usually) want them to be seen and to stand out. The Yacht-Master II is this gigantic watch for outgoing people who want to be seen – and be seen as successful. A watch in white gold is rather difficult to distinguish between a stainless steel one, without physically handling it. When a person is seen wearing a solid (yellow or rose) gold watch, we as an onlooker know they mean business!

Watch face looking right with bracelet and clasp - Rolex Yachtmaster II- Hands-On Review [116680]

Watch sitting on its side with crown pointing up - Rolex Yachtmaster II- Hands-On Review [116680]

The Oyster Bracelet

The bracelet is unsurprisingly of the Rolex Oyster variety being both robust in build and comfortable on the wrist. The Oysterlock folding clasp is of a solid construction and is unlikely to be accidentally opened, with an Easylink extension system that gives an additional 5mm when opened up for additional comfort.

Rolex Yachtmaster II- Hands-On Review [116680] 034

The Bright Blue Cerachrom Bezel

The bezel is a very curious part of the Yacht-Master II with it being the first watch to have the bezel directly connected to the movement. Rolex has dubbed this new invention as the ‘Ring Command Bezel’, which effectively is a mechanical component of the regatta chronograph that lets the desired countdown duration be programmed into the watch. It’s big and bold and is one of the key components of the YachMaster II’s designed. The 10-0 minute markings reflecting the dials markings again but in even bigger and bolder text that refuses to be ignored. The words ‘YACHT-MASTER II’ emblazoned at the bottom of the dial shout out to everyone unfamiliar with Rolex’s many different watch collections. Its boldness emphasises that the person wearing this watch is not unaccustomed to luxury and may indeed own their own yacht.

Rolex Yachtmaster II- Hands-On Review [116680] 026

Dial Design

The dial is an unusual style that really distinguishes itself from your typical Rolex by its bold exaggerated design. Its lovely white lacquered dial is a pleasure on the eye with its matt finish that boosts dial readability.

Its large Arabic numerals on the dial do not correlate to hour markers but instead are used for the regatta chronograph minutes countdown. These mirroring the larger markings on the ‘Ring Command Bezel’.

A small sub-dial sits by the 6 o’clock marker showing a running second complication with a bright blue ring, distinguishing it from the main dial.

The hour markers are represented in a series of blue squares that add to the chunky form and outgoing character of the watch.

A red lacquered triangular minute pointer and needle seconds hand show the progression of the regatta timer, in an effort to separate the timekeeping functions and chronograph to good effect.

Verdict – Who Is This Watch For?

Ultimately the Rolex Yachtmaster 116680 is for people who wish to stand out and be noticed. The watch is unapologetically extroverted and reflects the kind of people who enjoy being bold and different. This look can be amplified with the two-tone or solid yellow gold YachtMaster II. The regatta complication is a bit baffling to learn compared to a normal chronograph complication; but, has the possibility of being used even more frequently, than a standard chronograph, as a very expensive £12K egg timer, or you could just use it when racing your yacht – your choice…Rolex Yacht-Master II 44mm 116688 White © 2007-2016 The Watch Source Ltd Breakspear Park, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP2 4TZ, United Kingdom

This article reviewed the Rolex Yachtmaster II [116680] which can be found from our shop at a discounted price from this link.

The other Rolex Yacht-Master II 44mm watches that we have available are:

The stainless steel and 18kt rose gold Rolex Yacht-Master II 44mm [116681] from here.

The 18kt yellow gold Rolex Yacht-Master II 44mm [116688] here.

And the 18kt white gold Rolex Yacht-Master II 44mm [116689] from this link.

If the Yachtmaster is not for you and you would like a similar watch I would recommend you have a look at the Hublot King Power UNICO Chronograph in 18kt Rose Gold or a Big Bang UNICO. While the Hublot’s don’t have a regatta chronograph, they all share this big showy design that’s sure to draw lots of attention.

Sub-Dial and Regatta Chronograph triangular hand close up - Rolex Yachtmaster II- Hands-On Review [116680]

Photo Gallery:

Watch Specs:




Yacht-Master II 44mm

Model Number

116680 White



Case Material

Stainless Steel

Dial Color



Stainless Steel Brushed & Polished


Folding Clasp With Safety Latch


Automatic – Chronometer


Bi-Directional Rotating

Screw-down Crown



Scratch Resistant Sapphire

Case Back


Water Resistance




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