Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Rolex Yachtmaster II Regatta Timer and the Rolex Cup Regattas

You know the Submariner, you know the Daytona, time to learn about the Rolex Yacht-Master II and the brand’s long running association with regattas

Sep 10, 2018 | By Jonathan Ho

Francis Chichester onboard ‘Gipsy Moth IV’ during first ‘One-stop’ solo circumnavigation. He completed the 27,000 voyage in 226 days. PHOTO CREDIT: Chichester Archive/PPL

For over the past 60 years, Rolex has forged a relationship with yachting out of a natural affinity with this dynamic nautical sport and its time-honoured values. From the very beginning, founder Hans Wilsdorf set out to make wristwatches that would suit the active and sporting lifestyles of evolving gentlemen. Nine years later, in 1914, Rolex brought the then unrivalled and observatory-certified precision of the marine chronometer clock to wristwatches, a vital navigational instrument in humanity’s classical age, thus, while many correctly and strongly form an association between Rolex Submariners and deep sea activities, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch invented in 1926, the Oyster, and in 1931, the perpetual (for its self-winding mechanism) were innovations in watchmaking which formed the foundations for today’s Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II.

Vintage Rolex belonging to Francis Chichester

Rolex Yacht-master II Regatta Timer and the Rolex Cup Regattas

At the recently concluded Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship, the Crown once again demonstrated its commitment to the most prestigious yacht clubs, institutions and regattas in the world, sharing the highest standards of excellence with the custodians of yachting’s finest spirit.

“It has been a lot of fun with very tight racing between the three Wallycentos. The big surprise was Lyra winning so many races – that’s never happened before in the Wally class.” – Wally Yachts President Luca Bassani

Dockside ambiance in Porto Cervo

Buoyed by brilliant sunshine and gracious westerly winds, followers of the regatta witnessed the remarkable gumption and victory of the Wally 77 Lyra in the Wally class, who against all odds, being the first ever regatta for owner-driver, Chinese Canadian Terry Hui, calls to mind that amazing cross-channel swim by Mercedes Gleitze against all odds.

Against the luxurious backdrop of Porto Cervo, an Italian seaside resort in northern Sardinia, a luxury yacht magnet, a billionaires’ playground and one of the most expensive resorts in the world, an incredible story of drive and unfailing endurance followed Hui, whom started sailing two and a half months ago.

Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II

Underscoring the brand’s natural association with technically complex activities, joining the elite athleticism of human skippers and advanced regattas, sharing its excellence, precision and team spirit, it was no wonder that Rolex gravitated toward the elite world of yachting, forming a first alliance in the late 1950s with the New York Yacht Club, a founding father of the America’s Cup, along with the Royal Yacht Squadron in Great Britain, and a creative influence on the sport of yachting and its rules include the “One-Design” racing for fleets of virtually identical boats, which allows the skill of the crew to make all the difference.

As technically complex as the Regattas it times, introducing the Rolex Yacht-master II

Unlike the universally beloved Submariner and Daytona, the Rolex Yacht-master II Regatta Timer is arguably one of the more polarising watches from the brand. Yacht racing is fiercely competitive and technical, demanding mastery, split-second precision, resilience and the finest teamwork and its this confluence of highly niche requirements that leads the 44 mm Yacht-master II to bear one of the more niche complications in watchmaking – the “kinda-chronograph but not really”, regatta timer.

A unique regatta chronograph dedicated to both yachting enthusiasts and experienced sailors, the Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II features an exclusive function developed by Rolex, a programmable countdown with a mechanical memory that can be synchronised on the fly. Why? Because unlike race cars and sprinters, yachts don’t (and can’t) exactly float precisely on a starting line. Thus, a racing committee establishes a countdown period, depending on the rules and regatta, during which the boats can hover around the starting line without actually crossing; therefore what the Rolex Yacht-master II Regatta Timer features is required for precise timing during the crucial starting sequence of a regatta.

Cross the start line too early, you get penalised, cross too late and you sabotage yourself at the finish line, hence precision is of the essence in a regatta. The Yacht-Master II features an unprecedented mechanical function: a countdown that can be programmed from 10 to 1 minutes and allows skippers to precisely time and follow each race’s specific official starting procedure. This flexibility is one the major assets of the Yacht-Master II; its development was a considerable mechanical challenge. Furthermore, the programming can be mechanically memorised so that the hand returns to the same setting at a reset. The fly-back reset function and accompanying ability to adjust the countdown minute hand to the nearest minute is horologically significant on the Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II, in no other fly-back chronograph can the timer reset  to the nearest minute rather than zero, this allows the skipper to synch your countdown to official countdown timing rather than your own.

SVEA, Model: J Class, Nation: CAY, Sail n.: J 51, Lenght: 43,61, Beam: 6,63, Owner / Charterer: Tom Siebel

Master (your time) through Command (of the Bezel)

Furthermore, the Yacht-master II Regatta Timer’s sophisticated countdown functions were designed to be easily set and operated via a powerfully named “Ring Command Bezel” – programming of up to 10 minutes is set, and then locked, via this rotatable Command bezel, an innovative setting function which allows interaction between the external bezel and the movement while retaining exemplary water resistance elevates the Yacht-Master II model to the rank of a new-generation watch while redefining the functions of the rotatable bezel, heretofore limited to tachymeter, GMT or hour marker readings.

The keeping of time is a fundamental element of yacht racing. Whether it is to determine the exact moment a race starts or the eventual winner under handicap or compensated time, the rotation of crew on a long race, the choreography of a particular manoeuvre, sail choice or navigation, time runs through the sport. The coveted prize at all Rolex yachting events is a specially engraved Rolex timepiece; a symbol of success that marks out the winners as having accomplished something remarkable in their chosen sport.


The final day race of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2018 was a day of hard-fought triumphs with  J Class claiming the top three slots in the SuperMaxi class; Topaz eking out a win by one point, despite Velsheda winning the final race. In the Maxi class, Argentinean Miguel Galuccio’s Vera won the final day’s race as well but it was not enough to displace Massimiliano Florio’s Grande Orazio from the top spot after his Southern Wind 82 finished third. German Dieter Schön’s Momo retained her Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship title. The winners received a Yacht-Master special edition with “Rolex Maxi Yacht Cup” engraving on caseback.

The 29th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup & Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship was held from September 3 to 8.

Engraved Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40 presented to the winners of the Rolex Maxi Yacht 2018

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