For those outside the industry, it can be difficult sometimes to understand the sheer complexity of bringing a new timepiece to market, especially at the largest scales. Designing, testing, manufacturing, and marketing a watch is a multi-year process, especially for famously conservative nameplates like Rolex. Occasionally, though, the general public gets a peek under the hood at this process in action. That’s certainly the case for the new Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium, just released as part of the brand’s Watches and Wonders 2023 novelties. This is Rolex’s first truly wearable titanium sports watch, and the second titanium model overall (after 2022’s Deepsea Challenge in RLX Titanium), but the process that brought us this watch goes back further than that. A prototype of this new titanium model was spotted on the wrist of British yacht racer Sir Ben Ainslie in late 2021, and while there are certainly broad similarities between the prototype and this production model, the new Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium is stunning proof that even the famously slow-moving Crown takes major strides forward over the years.


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Brand: Rolex
Model: Yacht-Master 42
Dimensions: 42mm-wide
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Case Material: RLX Titanium/Cerachrom bezel insert
Strap/Bracelet: RLX Titanium
Crystal/Lens: Sapphire crystal
Movement: In-house 3235 automatic movement
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Operating Frequency: 28,800 bph
Price & Availability: $14,050 USD, available now

Although the 42mm-wide silhouette of the new Rolex Yacht-Master 42 should be instantly familiar to fans of the brand and enthusiasts at large, this case does offer several advancements for the brand. The coin-edge bezel, partially polished raised black Cerachrom bezel insert, vertical case sides, and athletic lugs are all classic Yacht-Master elements, but Rolex iterates on the familiar shape with a newfound focus on mixed finishing. Unlike the 2021 prototype (insofar as anyone can tell from the handful of grainy existing spy images), the new Yacht-Master 42 features a contrasting brushed chamfer running from the lug tips, transitioning to polishing up and over the classic Rolex crown guards. Additional polishing on the upper edge of the bezel gives the design a brighter look in images. This is the first time Rolex has employed polishing for titanium (see our detailed breakdown of the RLX Titanium Deepsea Challenge’s finishing here), and the end result is refined and attractive in initial photos. Like previous Yacht-Master models, the Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium offers a solid if unspectacular 100 meters of water resistance.

The Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium offers a familiar Yacht-Master-style gloss black dial, with its oversized applied “maxi” diver-style indices flanking a classic Mercedes handset and an oversized “lollipop” seconds hand. Once again, however, this production model deviates from the no-date 2021 prototype with an archetypal Rolex cyclops date display at 3 o’clock. Overall, it’s a familiar layout here, and a safe way for Rolex to ease RLX Titanium into its more standard consumer models.

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Like much of its lineup, Rolex powers the Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium with its in-house 3235 automatic movement. Like the rest of the brand’s lineup, this is regulated to Rolex’s internal Superlative Chronometer standard, measuring in at -2/+2 seconds per day. In addition, it offers a solid 70 hours of power reserve, and a 28,800 bph beat rate. Rolex finishes off the Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium with a matching RLX Titanium oyster bracelet featuring an Osyterlock safety clasp and a 5mm Easylink comfort extension link. Interestingly, despite the polishing on the case itself, Rolex opts for a fully brushed bracelet design here.

The new Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium is the product of multiple years of development and refinement, and offers the first “normally-sized” Rolex wearing experience in titanium. This should be a massive watershed for fans of the brand, and our aBlogtoWatch team will be offering more in-depth hands-on information as it’s available. The watch is available now through authorized dealers, and MSRP for the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium Reference 226627 stands at $14,050 USD as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.

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