Rolex Yacht-Master vs. Submariner: Which High-End Watch is Right for You?

Today, we’re going head-to-head with two of the most popular watches that Rolex has to offer: it’s the Rolex Yacht-Master vs. Rolex Submariner. The Yacht-Master is one most polarizing models for the Rolex community, while the Submariner is an iconic timepiece and a historical dive watch. If you have the dilemma of choosing between these two Rolexes, then let me say that it’s a good problem to have. In reality, you can’t go wrong by choosing one over the other.

However, I know that both watches are hefty investments and you want yours to count. One is a regatta countdown flyback chronograph, and the other is the quintessential dive watch. Personally, I prefer the Rolex Submariner for its classic reliability, design, and durability. But that’s just me. Let’s take a closer look at what each model can offer.

Rolex Yacht-Master Review


The first Rolex Yacht-Master was released as a part of the company’s Professional series with the reference 16628. The watch was released in 1992 and is touted as the sleeker upgrade to the iconic dive watch, the Submariner. However, according to the rumor mill, many Submariner devotees see that the design overhaul is too much and is ready to pounce into the Yacht-Master. Eventually, Rolex decided that the Yacht-Master will be released as an entirely new model instead.

For this review, we’ll be focusing on the Rolex Yacht-Master 40 Reference 116622 but many of the features, design, and construction elements are still applicable to the Yacht-Master versions. Try not to confuse this watch with the Rolex Yacht-Master II which is sequel to the original.

Design

The Yacht-Master Ref. 116622 can only be described as cool, calm and collected. The hint of almost-iridescent blue will likely catch the eye of many Rolex enthusiasts. As far as overall aesthetics go, this Rolex is an absolute stunner. This steel and platinum Yacht-Master comes with dark rhodium dial and soft blue highlights. Right off the bat, you can see that there’s a subtle affair going on when compared to its more embellished siblings (see Oysterflex and Rolesor versions). The restrained look can be partly attributed to the dark dial.

The watch features a platinum (Pt950) bi-directional bezel which may seem weird at first but the way it’s configured does make sense. The bi-directional design is utilized for yachting purposes like calculating the sailing time between two buoys. The sand-blasted finish and raised numerals look beautiful and are less direct compared to let’s say, a ceramic. Don’t get me wrong, this Yacht-Master doesn’t look pain at all. The polished bezel and glimmering dial allow the watch to pop where it counts.


And then, there’s the blue highlight. It’s amazing how such a small detail on a line of text and second hand can add so much to the overall look of the watch. The addition of blue highlights to the Yacht-Master gives it so much energy, especially against the dark rhodium dial. This is yet another proof of Rolex’s mastery of attention to detail.

Construction and Wearability

The Rolex Yacht-Master 116622 comes with a stainless steel case with a 40mm platinum bezel. There’s also a 37mm version for the ladies. The case and the bracelet are made from 904L stainless steel while the bezel is made from 950 platinum. This, of course, ensures the highest sense of luxury while keeping the watch tough as nails.

The screw-down crown is equipped with Triplock triple waterproofness system which is great if you’re always around water (like while yachting). Water resistance is up to 100 meters / 330 feet. The crystal is made from scratch-resistant sapphire which gets the job done.

All Yacht-Master 40 features the Oyster Bracelet which provides the much-needed balance of aesthetics, comfort, and function. There’s also the standard Oysterlock folding clasp and the Easylink comfort extension like, features that are proprietary to Rolex. All of these features ensure the best fit and comfort that you can expect from the Rolex brand.

Timekeeping


For the uninitiated, Rolex has ditched the COSC certifications for their movements and replaced it with their new Rolex Superlative Chronometer certification which guarantees accuracy within -2/+2 sec/day after casing. This accuracy is guaranteed for five years. This Rolex Yacht-Master is equipped with the same 3135 movement. In terms of timekeeping features, there’s nothing much to be said here except it’s Rolex – expect top-of-the-line accuracy.

Rolex Submariner Review


Now, let’s move on to an iconic dive watch. Many watch collectors consider the Rolex Submariner as a quintessential timepiece. Introduced in 1954, the Submariner is a cornerstone of Rolex’s stable. Let’s take a look at what this legendary watch can offer. For this review, we’ll be using the No-Date Reference 114060.

Design

The Submariner comes in a 40mm stainless steel case. It is worth noting that the 114060 comes in a slightly squared design, along with thicker lugs. This gives the Submariner a more eye-catching look, although there are still many who prefer the thinner lugs on the older versions. If you prefer a more robust and tougher appearance for your Submariner, this model should not disappoint.

The unidirectional bezel is fitted with ceramic bezel insert. This is quite a notable change since previous models have aluminum ones. However, you’ll be happy to know that the new ceramic bezel makes it more scratch-resistant. I also like the ceramic because it gives off a nice glow under certain lighting conditions. The bezel also has engravings which provide a nice texture and depth.


The Submariner comes in the instantly recognizable black dial. The indices are larger and are fitted with Chromalight (so it glows in the dark). The markers are outlined with 18K white gold frame. Overall, the dial looks very crisp and legible which is never a bad thing if you use this bad boy for diving purposes. As far as looks go, this watch is about as classic as it gets.

Construction and Wearability

The Submariner is water resistant up to 300 meters (1,000 feet). The middle case is made from 904L corrosive resistant steel which is also used in other industries like high technology and aerospace. The 904L steel is also highly polishable so it retains its beauty even after many years of usage. The winding crown is fitted with the proprietary TRIPLOCK triple waterproofness system. The crown is protected by the crown guard that brings the middle case altogether.


The watch is fitted with the familiar solid-link OYSTER bracelet which is also crafted from 904L steel. The clasp features the proprietary Folding Oysterlock safety clasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system. This enables you to adjust the watch by 2mm increments up to 20mm to achieve the best fit and comfort. Personally, the Submariner is just a timepiece that I could wear at all times without needing to take it off.

Timekeeping

For the timekeeping features, the Submariner doesn’t offer much but more than makes up for the reliable and accurate timekeeping. The Submariner is powered by 3135 caliber, a self-winding movement for the timekeeping features and allows -2/+2 sec/day accuracy. Like the Yacht-Master, the Submariner 114060 has the Superlative Chronometer certification (COSC + Rolex certification after casing). All of these components make for a robust and reliable timepiece.

Head to Head

So which one do I recommend, the Yacht-Master or Submariner? Well, if it’s up to me, I will get both because both of these watches do complement each other. But if you just have to choose one, you can’t go wrong with the Submariner. However, I do understand that it can be difficult to choose between the two Rolexes since they’re very similar.

If you’re going to compare both watches side-by-side, you’ll see that the Submariner’s movement gives a thicker caseback, compared to the Yacht-Master which is noticeably thinner. In terms of style, I feel that the Yacht-Master is the dressier of the two. While wearing, the Submariner feels heavier than the Yacht-Master.


When it comes to the bezel, I noticed that the Submariner feels more solid while the Yacht-Master doesn’t have much click in comparison. I don’t really like the 0 to 15 minute marker of the Yacht-Master bezel. The platinum bezel of Yacht-Master will likely collect scratches and dings over time. On the other hand, Submariner’s ceramic bezel is tougher and more resistant to scratches. Just avoid slamming your Submariner into a hard surface.

Another thing that I’m not crazy about the Yacht-Master is legibility. It could take about half a second for the eyes to distinguish the hands against the darker dial. It’s a good thing that the blue highlight stands out well against the rhodium background. The Submariner has the better legibility between the two.

Lastly, you can’t really compare these two without mentioning the price. The Yacht-Master is more expensive than the Submariner by approximately $3,000. So is it worth it to get the Yacht-Master with such a huge price difference? I think not but that’s only because both watches are very similar. However, this doesn’t mean that the Yacht-Master is not an excellent watch.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned, both the Submariner and Yacht-Master are excellent high-end timepieces. Honestly, you really can’t go wrong with choosing either one. However, in my opinion, it’s hard to justify the price difference when both watches are very similar. Although the Yacht-Master is the more luxurious of the two, the Submariner wins for being the tougher and more legible piece. If you’re looking to get your first Rolex and budget is an issue, I highly recommend the Rolex Submariner.

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