There is a place in the world of watches for statement pieces, crazy-ass blingy timepieces that scream to the populace, `Hey dudes, I’m so rich I have no idea what to spend all this cash on, so check this out.’
It could be a Roger Dubois Excalibur complete with Knights of Ye Rounde Table. Maybe a Richard Mille, or perhaps an MB&F HM10 Bulldog, which looks like a machine from War of The Worlds from some angles. It costs a cool 100K or so, but for less you could buy a Rolex Yacht-Master 40, replete with different coloured diamonds and utterly useless as an ocean-going timekeeper.
Well not useless, but y’know, not ideal when the mainsail is flapping against your cheeks in a Force 8 off Bermuda.
FUNCTION HAS BEEN FORGOTTEN
Just listen to this from Rolex on its website;
“Launched in 1992, the Yacht-Master was designed specifically for navigators and skippers.”
OK, now look at the delicate bezel of diamonds and stone-set lugs that resemble Joseph’s Technicolour Dreamcoat re-imagined by Liz Taylor. Yeah, you get the picture. Reality has colllided with marketing BS and the results are kinda laughable.
Wait, there’s more.
“The 40 mm Oyster case of the new Yacht-Master 40 is a paragon of robustness and reliability. Its middle case is crafted from a solid block of 18 ct white gold. The case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only Rolex watchmakers to access the movement.”
Right, so you now own a watch that even a trained watchmaker cannot get inside to service, ever.
Hmm, that’s going to be a problem when your Ukrainian trophy mistress in Monaco drops a tray of cocktails onto your arm and some Sex On The Beach residue sneaks inside the winding crown. Painful.
YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MOVEMENT?
As if you care. OK, it has the 3235 movement inside, which is COSC level and features a 70 hour reserve. Parachrom hairspring. Let’s be blunt, it isn’t anything special, you can get a similar spec from a Tudor Black Bay.
Just for laughs, you can order this one with a white gold bracelet, or a silicone strap, in case you actuually want to venture underwater, whilst wearing a watch that looks like a Pride parade on your wrist.
Rolex have really divorced themselves from the real world of watch collecting with this model and ventured boldly into a world of the super-woke, super-rich, who spend their days tweeting from private jets about how we should all eat insects and give up our Peugeot diesels.
Unlike MB&F, Urwerk, Roger Dubois, Arnold & Son or a host of other horological enthusiasts driven by a passion to create mind-blowing watches, that channel the spirit of Breguet and Harrison, Rolex are simply selling a label.
The gaudiest crowns tend to sit uneasily upon a fool’s brow.
Rolex make some great Subs, Explorers and Daytonas, but fripperies like this are an indicator of marketing people running a company, not engineers. Just like BSA-Triumph in the late 60s, this Swiss giant is heading for a fall.