Rolex, a brand known for keeping things mostly traditional in its watch designs, made a somewhat bold aesthetic statement at Baselworld 2015 this week, introducing a striking black-and-gold version of its Rolex Yacht-Master, which also features the brand’s innovative “Oysterflex” bracelet in matte black.
This latest edition of the Rolex Yacht-Master (which is available in both 37-mm and 40-mm case diameters) uses Rolex’s proprietary Everose gold for its iconic Oyster case, topping it off with a matte black Cerachrom insert, with polished, raised black numerals and indices, in its notched bezel. The matte black dial — with Chromolight-treated hands and hour markers — is the first in the Rolex Yacht-Master collection. (Cerachrom, an extra-hard, corrosion-resistant ceramic, and Chromalight, a luminous substance whose glow lasts longer than that of Super-LumiNova, are both exclusive to Rolex.)
The other first on the new Yacht-Master is the dial-matching black Oysterflex bracelet, which boasts yet another Rolex patent. That’s right: Rolex calls it a bracelet, not a strap, though at first look it very much resembles a more-or-less traditional rubber strap. The interior is equipped with a patented “longitudinal cushion” system that Rolex says gives its wristlet the suppleness and comfort of a strap and the tough resistance and stability of a bracelet. Like the case, the Rolex Oysterlock safety clasp is made of Everose gold — an alloy containing gold, copper, and a smidgen of platinum — which Rolex makes in its own foundry.
The Oyster case of the new Yacht-Master is guaranteed to be water-resistant to 300 meters (1,000 feet). The case middle is milled from a solid block of Everose gold, and the fluted caseback and winding crown (the latter outfitted with Rolex’s Triplock waterproofing) both screw down securely. The raised, polished black numerals and indices on the bezel create a subtle but significant contrast with the matte black background, aiding in legibility. And the “cyclops lens” magnifying date window at 3 o’clock means the owner should not have to squint at his watch to remember what day it is.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht Master 40 is powered by Rolex’s manufacture Caliber 3135; the 37-mm version uses Caliber 2236. Both are mechanical automatic movements (Rolex uses the term “perpetual”) and, like all watch movements in Rolex’s current collection, both are COSC-certified chronometers. The Yacht-Master 37 will be priced at $22,000; the Yacht-Master 40, at $24,950. Both should be on the market, Rolex says, by Summer 2015.