Image

The Rolex Sky-Dweller is the most complicated modern Rolex in the current collection. It’s also rather polarising. Most collectors have pretty strong views on it one way or another. None can dispute its inherent ingenuity. Protected by 11 – 14 patents, its intuitive display incorporates an annual calendar and a dual time-zone. And in its white Rolesor form (Ref 326934), it’s also surprisingly accessible at GBP 11,100. Indeed, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is a very clever watch.

A (Very) Brief History Of The Rolex Sky-Dweller

For years, Rolex provided dual time zone functionality via the professional pilot-dedicated GMT-Master. It features a supplementary hour hand coaxially located at the dial centre. Rotating on a 24-hour scale (denoted on the bezel), it was a Rolex invention in 1954.

Since launching in 1955, the GMT-Master, and later GMT-Master II have proven their usefulness and versatility. The 24-hour hand was also introduced on the Explorer II. Beyond that, however, not much more has been on the dual time zone front by Rolex. Beyond the standard updates and improvements to established models.

That’s why in 2012, the launch of the Sky-Dweller caused quite a stir. Rolex registered the name before Baselworld, but no one knew anything about the new model. Speculation anticipated a progression of the GMT-Master II. Instead Rolex came out with its first entirely new watch in two decades. One that featuring dual time zone displays as well as an annual calendar.

Unlike the GMT-Master, the Sky-Dweller was designed for business travellers. What made the new model so ground-breaking was that it featured a complicated movement. The all-new caliber 9001, which today remains the most complex ever developed by the brand.

It was also less sporty than the GMT-Master II. Instead the Sky-Dweller took its design cues from the Datejust and Day-Date models. But the familiar fluted bezel held a hidden surprise. In fact, the Sky-Dweller’s mystique turned out to be how simple it is to read and adjust.

What You Don’t See

The Sky-Dweller provides two time zones displayed simultaneously. Local time, and the date, are in the standard Rolex format. But off-set from the dial centre a 24-hour disc indicated to by a fixed inverted triangle. (Minutes for both time zones are read off of the local time minute hand.)

The 24-hour display acts as the wearer’s chosen reference time. This could be home time or the time zone they spend most of their time in for work. By being a 24-hour scale, day and night periods are easy to discern. The calendar month is indicated via one of 12 apertures located beyond the hour indexes. There’s a lot of information but the delivery doesn’t overcrowd the dial.

Adjusting so many indicators would usually be done via multiple crown settings or pushers. Or those annoying little correctors. Not so with the Sky-Dweller. Rapid setting of all functions occurs via the crown. Control over which function is being adjusted is cleverly disguised.

The Sky-Dweller employs intelligent bezel technology known as “Ring Command”. This is the same technology used by the Yacht-Master II. Rotating the bezel interacts with the movement, changing whichever function is engaged by the winding crown. No fewer than 60 components make up the patented, complex mechanical module. Setting can be done in any order, and in both backwards and forwards directions.

Before the Sky-Dweller, Rolex only provided a complete calendar. Although similar, it doesn’t take into account the differing month lengths. By introducing only four extra gear wheels, Rolex created the simple but ingenious SAROS annual calendar. ‘Saros’ is a Greek term. It refers to the astronomical cycle governing the recurrence of an eclipse. The annual calendar design takes inspiration from the cyclical alignment of the Sun, Earth and Moon. Hence the name.

A satellite (Earth) wheel engages a fixed planetary (Sun) gear wheel over one month, driven by the date disc. The ‘Earth’ in turn has its own satellite (Moon) wheel fitted with four fingers for each of the four 30-day months. At the end of April, June, September and November, one of the fingers causes the date disc to jump two days in a few milliseconds. Hence, the 31 date is ‘eclipsed’. Manual adjust is thus only required on 1 March (following February).

The Rolex Sky-Dweller Ref 326934 & Ref 326933

Despite debuting in 2012, the Rolex Sky-Dweller didn’t hit mainstream radars until 2017. That’s when Rolex updated the dial and introduced steel versions. Well, technically ‘Rolesor’ versions. ‘Rolesor’ is Rolex speak for a combination of Oystersteel and gold. The white Rolesor Sky-Dweller (Ref 326934) features a fluted bezel in 18ct white gold. There’s also a two-tone yellow Rolesor version (Ref 326933). This sees the addition of 18ct yellow gold centre links on the Oyster bracelet and yellow gold bezel.

This use of materials gives the Rolex Sky-Dweller a sportier feel. It also makes it much more accessible price-wise. For comparison, the full yellow gold model has an RRP of GBP 35,550 versus GBP 13,200 for the yellow Rolesor version. The former offers a lot more gold of course but that’s not to everyone’s taste (or budget).

Earlier models featured large Roman or Arabic numerals for the hour indexes – a more dated look to be sure. The new versions offer modern rectangular indexes. Much like the Rolex Datejust 41. They completely change the look of the watch and open it up to a much wider (and younger) audience. Suddenly the clever Rolex Sky-Dweller was the cool kid on the block.

The Oyster case measures a solid 42mm and is worn on a three-link Oyster bracelet. There are six different variations available, three in each of the metals. The white Rolesor version offers black, blue and white dials. The yellow Rolesor version also has black and white dial options. Plus, there’s as a fancier champagne-colour dial.

The consensus seems to be that the white Rolesor with blue dial is the most desirable. It’s also the hardest to find. It’s not quite at the same level as the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116500LN. Still, it’s unusual to see one at your local AD. As a result, prices on the secondary market are around GBP 16,000GBP 18,000.


Technical Specifications: Rolex Sky-Dweller White Rolesor Ref 326934

  • Case: Oyster – 42 mm – Oystersteel and white gold – monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown –fluted white gold bezel, bidirectional rotatable Rolex Ring Command – waterproof to 100 metres / 300 feet.
  • Dial: Blue/Black/White – centre hour, minute and seconds hands – 24-hour display on off-centre disc – Second time zone. – instantaneous annual calendar at 3 o’clock and rapid-setting of the date – month display via 12 apertures around the circumference of the dial – stop-seconds for precise time setting – Chromalight display with longlasting blue luminescence on hour markers and hands.
  • Movement: Calibre 9001 – bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor – paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers – 72-hour power reserve – certified as Superlative Chronometer.
  • Price: GBP 11,100.

Technical Specifications: Rolex Sky-Dweller White Rolesor Ref 326933

  • Case: Oyster – 42 mm – Oystersteel and 18ct yellow gold – monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown –fluted yellow gold bezel, bidirectional rotatable Rolex Ring Command – waterproof to 100 metres / 300 feet.
  • Dial: Champagne/Black/White – centre hour, minute and seconds hands – 24-hour display on off-centre disc – Second time zone. – instantaneous annual calendar at 3 o’clock and rapid-setting of the date – month display via 12 apertures around the circumference of the dial – stop-seconds for precise time setting – Chromalight display with longlasting blue luminescence on hour markers and hands.
  • Movement: Calibre 9001 – bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor – paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers – 72-hour power reserve – certified as Superlative Chronometer.
  • Price: GBP 13,200.

More info at www.rolex.com.


 

Tom Mulraney
Tom Mulraney
Founder & Editor
Tom likes to write about luxury watches. So much so, that he created The Watch Lounge just so he would have an outlet for his passion. Together with his team, he is dedicated to bringing you original, entertaining (and maybe even a little educational) luxury watch and lifestyle content.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

shares