For more than 60 years Rolex has forged a relationship with yachting through a natural affinity with the sport and its time-honoured values, and today it partners some of the world’s most prestigious yacht clubs, institutions and regattas.
From the origins in 1905, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf set out to make wristwatches to suit the increasingly active and sporting lifestyles of the modern world.
Nine years later Rolex brought the then unrivalled precision of the marine chronometer clock – a vital navigational instrument – to the wristwatch for the first time.
By 1926 it had invented the world’s first waterproof wristwatch (the Oyster) and, in 1931, the first wristwatch self-winding system with a free rotor, called the Perpetual. These innovations formed the foundations for today’s Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II.
Rolex used the world as a real-life proving ground for the Oyster, demonstrating its reliability in the most extreme conditions: at sea, in the depths of the ocean, on land, in the air and on the tallest peaks.
Waterproof, robust and accurate, Oyster Perpetual chronometers are uniquely suited to life at the helm. The brand gravitated to yachting, forming an alliance in the late 1950s with the New York Yacht Club (NYYC), founder of the America’s Cup, with a creative influence on yachting rules.
These included ‘one-design’ racing which allowed the skill of the crew to make all the difference. Over time, this principle led to advanced events such as the highly-competitive SailGP global championship and the Rolex TP52 World Championship.
The seminal partnership with the NYYC shaped Rolex’s involvement in the sport. Yachting is steeped in tradition, nurtures a spirit of fair play and thrives on a congenial atmosphere. But racing is also fiercely competitive and technical, demanding mastery, split-second precision, resilience and the finest teamwork.
Over the decades, Rolex has harnessed the passion for yachting by establishing ties with yacht clubs across the globe, where sailing enthusiasts rub shoulders with hard-core racers and elite skippers. A dozen clubs now anchor a series of partnerships which give Rolex title sponsorship of about 15 major races in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Pacific basin.
This circuit ranges from leading offshore classics, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the Rolex Fastnet Race – which test Corinthian (non-professional) and professional crews to their limits – through the powerful action of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup to the pageantry of the glamorous Rolex Giraglia.
Rolex’s dedicated yachting time pieces – the Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master and the Yacht-Master II – are regatta chronographs with an innovative mechanical countdown timer. They’re imbued with the rich heritage and experience of sailing’s elite, and symbolise the enduring bond between Rolex and the maritime world.