The History of the Men’s Yellow Gold Yacht-Master Ref. 16628
In 1992, Rolex unveiled a brand new model dubbed the Yacht-Master. While the name wasn’t new—Rolex had actually made a prototype in the late 1960s called the Yacht-Master Chronograph with only three known pieces to exist—the watch sporting the vintage name was definitely new. The very first model that launched the Yacht-Master collection was the men’s yellow gold Yacht-Master ref. 16628. Let’s get a closer look at the finer details.
First in Line: The Men’s Yellow Gold Yacht-Master
While the Yacht-Master collection eventually had a wide assortment of sizes and materials, the inaugural model was the Yacht-Master ref. 16628. It was a men’s yellow gold Yacht-Master with a 40mm case. From its Oyster case to its Oyster bracelet, the Yacht-Master ref. 16628 was crafted entirely in 18k yellow gold—a luxurious take on a sports watch if we’ve ever seen one!
Powering the men’s versions of the Yacht-Master watch is the famous Rolex Cal. 3135 automatic mechanical movement. Aside from the time, the Yacht-Master also includes a date window at 3 o’clock. Naturally, like the majority of Rolex date watches, the Yacht-Master is also equipped with the Cyclops magnification lens on the sapphire crystal for better legibility of the date.
Particularly interesting was the Yacht-Master ref. 16628’s new style of bezel. The full gold bezel with a sandblasted finish includes polished raised numerals for a dramatic look. While the 18k yellow gold bezel is certainly precious, it’s still functional as a time-lapse bezel thanks to its ability to rotate both ways. Whether or not the men’s yellow gold Yacht-Master is ever used to time how long it takes to get between two positions while sailing is beside the point. But, if the need arises, the Yacht-Master can do it.
Another noteworthy design touch on the very first Yacht-Master ref. 16628 was the use of black hour markers with yellow gold surrounds. Those dark indexes really pop against the crisp white dial. However, because of their material, they do not glow in the dark. Rather, accompanying the black hour markers are small luminescent triangles that aren’t that noticeable in daylight but come to life in darkness. Therefore, the triangles, coupled with the luminous Mercedes-style hands provide optimal visibility in low light.
The Later Years of the Men’s Yellow Gold Yacht-Master
A couple of years after the Yacht-Master ref. 16628’s debut with the white dial, Rolex added a blue sunray dial. This time, the blue background housed white lume plots. That contrast, coupled with the red YACHT-MASTER label on the dial came together for a fantastic version of the Yacht-Master ref. 16628. Over the ensuing years, more dial options were added to the men’s yellow gold Yacht-Master including mother-of-pearl, champagne, and others.
The men’s yellow gold Yacht-Master was only in production for less than 20 years. The ref. 16628 is, in fact, the only reference number for a men’s yellow gold Yacht-Master. Rolex discontinued all full yellow gold Yacht-Master watches in 2011 and never replaced them with updated versions.
Although today the stainless steel and platinum versions of the Yacht-Master are more ubiquitous, we’ll never forget the first. And here’s hoping that Rolex will someday bring back the men’s yellow gold Yacht-Master!