With gold fluted bezels, round Oyster cases, three-link bracelets, and calendar indications on the dial, it’s clear that the Sky-Dweller and the Day-Date are two Rolex watches that share many design details. Yet, each model has a distinct approach to the Rolex dress watch genre. Read on as we compare the Rolex Sky-Dweller vs. Rolex Day-Date to see what each model has to offer.
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The Rolex Day-Date Is the Older Model
Making its debut in 1956, the Day-Date model has become one of Rolex’s icons in its six-plus decades of history. Along with a novel dial layout that includes a window at 12 o’clock that has the day of the week written in full and a date window at 3 o’clock, the Day-Date is also fitted with a special bracelet style called the “President”
The Rolex President bracelet, which features semi-circular links in a three-link configuration, has become one of the most recognizable watch band styles in history. Additionally, the Day-Date itself has also become known as the Rolex President watch – not just because of its bracelet, but also because this particular model went on to become popular with Presidents and other successful high-profile personalities. On the other hand, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is the brand’s newest model, which was first released in 2012.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller is Available in More Metals
Since the very beginning, Rolex has only ever made the Day-Date President in precious metals – 18k yellow, white, and rose gold, in addition to 950 platinum. There have also been in the past, Tridor Rolex President watches, which brings together all three shades of gold on one watch. Although a handful of ‘prototype’ examples are known to exist, there have never been standard-production Day-Date watches in stainless steel or two-tone steel and gold, and we doubt there ever will be.
Conversely, the Rolex Sky-Dweller began as a collection of only solid gold watches; however, in 2017, Rolex expanded the collection to include two Rolesor models. Rolesor is the company’s term for marrying gold and steel components on one watch. One features the classic combination of yellow gold and steel while the other is predominately crafted from steel but features a white gold fluted bezel. Therefore, there are yellow gold, Everose gold, white gold (now discontinued), Yellow Rolesor, and White Rolesor versions of the Rolex Sky-Dweller available.
The Day-Date Has More Design Variety
While the Rolex Sky-Dweller comes in more metal options, it is only available with a 42mm case. Additionally, while there are a few Sky-Dweller models with leather bands, this particular Rolex watch is predominately fitted with the sporty three-link Oyster bracelet.
The Day-Date however, has seen four different sizes over the years and various bracelet options. The classic choice is the Day-Date 36, with (as you can guess) a 36mm Oyster case and the President bracelet. This was the measurement of the Day-Date President when it was launched in the 1950s and it continues to be a part of the current Rolex catalog. Sometime in the early 2000s, Rolex released a special lineup of the Day-Date called the Masterpiece. The Day-Date Masterpiece (which has since been discontinued) sports a 39mm case and a five-link Pearlmaster bracelet.
In 2008, Rolex unveiled the Day-Date II, featuring large 41mm cases with beefy lugs and thick bezels. However, this collection was short-lived as Rolex replaced it with the Day-Date 40 in 2015. Along with the slightly smaller 40mm case, the Day-Date 40 watches also have slimmer lugs and thinner bezels compared to the Day-Date II models.
Moreover, it’s worth mentioning that along with the President and Pearlmaster bracelets mentioned above, Rolex has also fitted select Day-Date watches with both Oyster bracelets and leather straps in the past. Finally, Rolex has used a range of different bezel styles on the Day-Date, including fluted, smooth, gem-set, bark-finish, and others. In contrast, the Sky-Dweller is only available with a fluted bezel. Therefore, given all the different sizes, bracelets, and bezel alternatives over the years, the Day-Date collection offers more variety than the Sky-Dweller.
The Sky-Dweller is More Complicated
Both the Sky-Dweller and the Day-Date are Rolex calendar watches, yet the Sky-Dweller is significantly more complicated. The Rolex Day-Date indicates the time, day, and date, where both calendar windows instantaneously jump to the next at midnight.
Along with indicating the time and date, the Sky-Dweller also has a month indicator displayed via 12 windows adjacent to the hour markers along the periphery of the dial. The Rolex Sky-Dweller can also indicate two time zones simultaneously where reference time is set on the 24-hour disc. And because the local hour hand can jump in one-hour increments without disturbing the minute or 24-hour hand, the Sky-Dweller is, in fact, a “true” GMT watch – the ultimate watch complication for a frequent traveler.
However, what is most impressive about the Rolex Sky-Dweller is that it offers an annual calendar complication. Therefore, as long as it’s running, the watch will automatically adjust to indicate the correct date regardless if there are 30 or 31 days in the month. Consequently, the only time that the Sky-Dweller will need hands-on adjusting is on March 1st.
The Sky-Dweller is More Expensive, Sort Of
If we take two comparable models from each collection, we can immediately see that Sky-Dweller is more expensive than the Day-Date. For instance, the Everose Sky-Dweller ref. 326935 retails for $49,450 and the Everose Day-Date 40 ref. 228235 retails for $39,250.
However, because of the existence of the White Rolesor option, the Sky-Dweller’s entry price point (for current models) is lower. The steel Sky-Dweller ref. 326935 retails for $14,800 while the least expensive current-production Rolex President is the yellow gold Day-Date 36 ref. 128238, which retails for $33,150. However, due to the long history of the Day-Date, there are plenty of vintage or discontinued models in the secondary market that can be picked up for less than $10,000. So if we consider older references, then the Day-Date President’s entry-level price point is lower than the Sky-Dweller’s.
On the flip side, because the Day-Date is available in platinum and/or with gems (and the Sky-Dweller offers neither of those options at the present time), there are several Rolex President watch models that are much more expensive than the priciest Sky-Dweller references.
Quick Specs Rolex Sky-Dweller vs. Rolex Day-Date
- Case Size: 36mm, 39mm, 40mm, 41mm
- Materials: Yellow gold, White gold, Rose gold, Platinum.
- Bracelets: President, Oyster, Pearlmaster, Leather
- Functions: Time, Day, Date
- Case Size: 42mm
- Materials: Yellow gold, White gold, Rose gold, Yellow Rolesor (steel + yellow gold), White Rolesor (steel + white gold)
- Bracelets: Oyster, Leather
- Functions: Time, Date, Month, Annual Calendar, Second timezone
Looking closer at the Rolex Sky-Dweller, it’s not a stretch to see it as an evolution of the Day-Date. The Sky-Dweller borrows many of the same design traits of the Day-Date, yet it is bigger, more complicated, and as a result, generally more expensive. What remains true of both models is that they are ultra-prestigious Rolex watches that make strong statements on the wrist.
Which one do you prefer, the Rolex Sky-Dweller or the Rolex Day-Date? Chime in by leaving us a comment below.