Prestige Yachts is one of those rare and special brands that seems to have retained its focus since day one. Launched by Jeanneau in 1989, in close collaboration with the Beneteau Group’s favoured creative agency, Garroni Design, its first foray into the luxury yacht market involved a mid-sized cruiser called the Prestige 41. It immediately differentiated itself by means of the freshness of its design, the quality of its materials and (notwithstanding the often garish tastes of the era) its classy commitment to elegance without too much in the way of ostentation.
In spite of its success, the rate of early development at Prestige remained steady and measured. For instance, it wasn’t until the year 2000 that it would launch its first flybridge motor yacht in the form of the Prestige 36. And it wasn’t until 2010 that it would venture up into the world of larger luxury yachts with the Prestige 60. But when it did make its move, it did so decisively with a new production facility at Les Herbiers in France, as well as new premises in Monfalcone, Italy, which was specifically designed to cater for the construction needs of Prestige’s big yachts division.
In 2014, that enabled it to introduce the game-changing 750, a distinctly premium motor yacht that was ahead of its time in a lot of ways – not least in its echoing of some of the key superyacht traits we’ve come to take for granted. There was an early example of an aft galley that opened out onto the external cockpit and there was also a main deck master suite – at that point, virtually unheard of at anything below 100 feet. It won all kinds of awards, both on the World and European stage and it helped set the scene for Prestige to push on again with even more vigour.
The modern Prestige fleet
Prestige’s current fleet comprises four classes: the F-Line, S-Line, X-Line and M-Line. And as with previous incarnations of the Prestige range, they continue to deliver a distinctive mix of the contemporary, the elegant and the downright clever. The Prestige Yachts S-Line, for instance, aims to combine the space of a flybridge with the profile of a coupé and the responsiveness of a sports yacht. Available in both open and closed configurations, its modular spaces enable you to adapt each boat in line with your lifestyle. There are currently four boats in the range from 42 to 59 feet in length – and the largest of those, the 590S, comes with a very neatly integrated ‘Sport Fly’.
The five cruisers of the Prestige F-Line feature larger, more conventional flybridges. The first four mirror the hull sizes of the S-Line at 42, 46, 52 and 59 feet and the fifth, the Prestige 690, has now taken its place as the fleet flagship. In addition to the traditional Prestige hallmarks of big interior space, elegant exterior lines and plenty of home-style comforts, it exhibits dual staircases to separate the owner’s suite from the guest cabins, alongside wide-open main and upper decks for easy customisation.
In terms of outright design ingenuity though, the Prestige X-Line takes the crown. It currently features just two boats – the original X70 and the new X60 – and both aim to provide far greater internal volume, easier circulation and better natural light than boats of a comparable length. In terms of their style, that fresh design approach, with asymmetrical layouts and full-beam flybridges, leaves them hovering somewhere between mini-superyachts, explorer-style family cruisers and ultra-stylish trawlers. But as we’ve seen on boats like the Princess X Class yachts, maximising volume by means of reorganised walkways that enable the full use of the beam brings a degree of liveaboard practicality and on board comfort that is impossible to ignore.
The last of the four product lines appears to involve something of a departure in the form of twin-hulled power cats. The recently released M48 is currently the only M-Line model available but, according to its designers, it boasts “an owner’s suite worthy of a 70-footer.” And as General manager, Erwin Bamps, explains, its wide side decks, open cockpit, vast main deck and easy freedom of movement are also designed to create a more relaxed form of cruising experience: “Prestige Yacht owners want luxury, space and comfort. High cruising speed is no longer a demand but stability is. And this has naturally pointed us to the catamaran.”
Yachts for sale: new boat highlights
While there’s plenty to enjoy about the twin-hulled M48, the 590 Sport Fly and the new flagship 690 flybridge cruiser, for many, the most exciting boat in the fleet is the new explorer-style Prestige X60. Following on from the X70, its use of a wide port side deck and a full-beam fly delivers around 30% more space up top and 15% more space in the saloon than a conventional 60-footer. It’s a wonderful environment for relaxed recreation too. Huge sliding doors on the port side bring a tremendous sense of openness to the main deck saloon. The large aft Beach Club is also a much more convivial space, thanks to a large open cockpit with a clever glass parapet. Both the upper and main deck helms enjoy sociable co-pilot spaces so the skipper doesn’t feel separated from the party. And there’s also a very welcoming bow space ahead of that imperious warship-style windscreen. With a private entrance to the aft master cabin, plus interior styling that echoes what Prestige calls the “whispered luxury of 1950s and 60s St Tropez,” it’s very difficult not to love.
Yachts for sale: pre-owned highlights
Now, as ever, Prestige yachts remain quite sought after but there are still some bargains to be had. If you have a taste for retro chic, an original 1989 Prestige 41 in first-class condition can be yours for between £60,000 and £85,000. If you want something more spacious and modern that really nails the brand’s committed pursuit of space and home comforts, a flybridge Prestige 50 from 2009 could be yours for around the £400,000 mark. But for a proper slice of ‘modern’ Prestige, a 680S from 2016 to 2018 makes a particularly attractive pre-owned buy. At around £1.2 to £1.5million, prices remain strong, particularly in the current used boat market, but the calibre of this elegant cruiser is beyond question. In spite of its lovely, raked, coupé-style profile, it comes with a flybridge, a sunroof-lit saloon, excellent main deck headroom and a uniquely satisfying forward master suite. Accessed via its own private staircase, the fact that it’s not butted up against the engine room in the conventional fashion, enables extra light and headroom, as well as reduced noise and vibration. It’s also great to drive, with lovely balance, fine handling, a soft ride and outstanding refinement underway. Of course, it’s not especially fast and, with its bold and thought-provoking design, it’s not without its quirks. But there are so many good things on offer here that even now, it remains one of the most charming and capable 70-foot flybridge cruisers around.