Rolex Yacht-Master 42 Gets Full RLX Titanium Treatment

In what may have been the most predicted move by Rolex in years, the use of their newly introduced RLX grade 5 titanium has taken a step into the Yacht-Master collection, something teased years ago by Sir Ben Ainslie in the form of a dateless prototype. We saw the first official use of the material in this Deepsea Challenge Sea-Dweller revealed earlier this year. The latest release welcomes the stuff within the Yacht-Master collection in the new 42mm reference 226627, and a few of the features we noticed in the Sea-Dweller have returned, tipping what may be titanium exclusive details. 

Titanium is having some of a moment in recent years. We’ve seen its use spread from small independents and micro-brands like Boldr and Autodromo, now to the likes of Rolex. It may not be as exotic sounding as it once was, but we’re seeing it used in more inventive ways across the board, predominantly in how it’s finished. Just this year, while attending Watches & Wonders, we’ve learned of two particularly high end titanium watches that have had their production experience delays due to the difficult nature of finishing it to a certain standard.


The finishing of this particular titanium watch is very Rolex, with relatively uniform satin brush graining throughout the 42mm case and bracelet, with a chamfer running the length of the lug line. That chamfer on the lug is one of the key details we noted on the titanium Deepsea as well, leading one to believe it could become a detail reserved for this material alone, making the prospect of it appearing with the Submariner collection all the more alluring.

The slightly darker appearance of the material is contrasted with a sculpted black Cerachrom ceramic bezel unique to the Yacht-Master collection. It appears particularly fitting on this material, with only the tops of the raised numerals receiving a polish. The black maxi dial hosts large hour markers with plenty of Chromalight lume for excellent visibility in any condition. There are only three lines of text at the bottom of the dail denoting the model and the superlative chronometer status of the movement, no depth rating here to fussy up the situation. Which is probably a good thing as it’s a mere 100 meters. Plenty for practical usage, but a strangely paltry number for a Rolex diver.

Inside, Rolex is using their 3235 movement, meaning we’ve got a date and cyclops at 3 o’clock on the dial. The 32 series movements still seem to be working through some teething, amplitude pains, but overall represent the beginning of a new generation of movement that’s slowly making its way throughout the stable.

What this watch accomplishes is setting a standard for use of titanium in regular production, ‘civilian spec’ watches. All bets are off on where it might appear next, but if I were a betting man I’d say the Explorer II range feels a great target. Until then, the Yacht-Master 42 will have to do the trick. The RLX clad Yacht-Master 42 is priced at CHF 13,400. Rolex.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.