Rolex's Most Important Release of 2023 Was a Long Time Coming

The use of titanium makes the Yacht-Master 42 feel sportier than ever.

rolex yacht master titanium 42
Zen Love

Rolex finally did it: it made a full-titanium watch that's actually practical for everyday wear. Meet the all-new Yacht-Master 42, a de facto successor to the titanium Deepsea Challenge announced last year, albeit slightly less gargantuan. Here are the most important takeaways.

Titanium Matters. Here's Why

A titanium Yacht-Master has been rumored since Olympic sailing champion Ben Ainslie was spotted wearing a prototype in 2021. That watch was on a strap but the new Yacht-Master comes on a full titanium bracelet. Like with its other metals, such as Oystersteel, Rolex gives its titanium a special name, RLX titanium, which it describes as a "grade 5 titanium alloy specially selected by Rolex."

ben ainslie and rolex yachtmaster 42 titanium
Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie wore a prototype of this year’s Yacht-Master back in 2021.
Ineos Britannia Team / C GREGORY

Titanium is currently a hot material in watchmaking and loved by watch fans for myriad desirable qualities. Being lightweight makes titanium watches highly comfortable to wear, but being harder than steel had long made it a difficult material to work with. As production methods have improved it's become more common and popular, but the stamp of approval from Rolex will give titanium another level of legitimacy, hype and weight (so to speak) among watchmakers and collectors — it might also (eventually) signal more titanium watches from the brand in the future.

From Prestige to Purpose

The new watch also seems to take the Yacht-Master collection in a new direction. The sailing-oriented watch was long something like a fancy, more lifestyle-focused version of the relatively sporty and serious tool-watch vibes of the Submariner. It was only available in precious metals.

rolex yacht master 42 in titanium
rolex yacht master 42 in titanium

With a titanium case and bracelet paired to a monochromatic black dial and bezel, however, the Yacht-Master is a lot more like a genuine tool watch — which feels a bit like the brand returning to its roots. The way it tested the watch on an Olympic athlete also feels like the old-school Rolex many of its ardent fans admire most. It's always felt a lot like a Submariner, but producing it in a special metal (as well as its bezel's relief markers) helps differentiate it.

It Won't Be Cheap or Easy to Get

Titanium might not be a precious metal but it's certainly a premium material, meaning it easily fits in with the Yacht-Master's higher price tier. Like other Rolex sport watches, you might not be able to walk into a boutique and buy one right away (though this is hopefully changing soon). Its nominal retail price is 13,400 Swiss francs or about $14,600.


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