Baselworld 2012 had the Rolex community abuzz. It had been some time since a new model had been added to the Rolex lineup, and with rumors circulating regarding the release of a new watch called the “Sky-Dweller,” collectors were in a heavy debate over what type of watch it would be. As the most highly anticipated reveal at Baselworld 2012, the watch drew large crowds and exceeded many people’s expectations; the new Rolex Sky-Dweller dazzled with its intricate yet sporty design and its highly-advanced in-house movement.
With an annual calendar complication, month and date indicators, and a dual time zone display, the Sky-Dweller is one of the most complex watches that Rolex has ever produced.
Familiar Design, Fresh Functionality
The Rolex Sky-Dweller is a luxurious watch, and shares a lot of aesthetic common ground with the iconic Rolex Day-Date President. However, the Sky-Dweller offered users a brand-new, state-of-the-art movement, which featured a special technology that allowed it to simultaneously display two different time zones, the date, the month, and also house an annual calendar complication.
Local time is indicated by the conventional hands positioned in the center of the watch, while a rotating, off-center, 24-hour disc displays the secondary time zone. Additionally, while the date on the Rolex Sky-Dweller appears in its usual place below the cyclops magnification lens, the months are also represented on the dial through windows placed on the outside of its hour markers. For example, the four o’clock mark would represent April (the fourth month), and would appear highlighted until the first of May.
Initially only available in 18k gold, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is now available in a wide variety of different metal options.
Although a calendar feature was nothing new for Rolex, an annual calendar was something that had never before been released by the prominent Swiss watch manufacturer. Based on a mechanism called SAROS (the name comes from the Greek term for the cycle of the earth, moon, and sun), Rolex’s impressive precision and skill is evident in this highly-complex calendar, which automatically accounts for months with different numbers of days, and only requires re-setting once per year – on the first of March.
An annual calendar is not the same thing as a perpetual calendar, which also keeps track of leap years, so Rolex Sky-Dweller owners still need to reset their calendars; however watches with standard calendar complications require the date to be manually advanced five times per year – once for each 30-day month, and once at the end of February.
The fluted bezel on the Sky-Dweller is one of Rolex’s “Ring Command” bezels, which connect directly to its internal movement to allow for easier setting and adjustment.
The Rolex Caliber 9001 Movement
What makes all of these wonderful and useful features possible is Rolex’s Caliber 9001 movement, and seven of the fourteen patents that protect the Rolex Sky-Dweller pertain to its movement alone. Rightly considered one of the most complex Rolex calibers yet, it offers 28,800 beats per hour with a 72-hour power reserve. While the Caliber 9001 is responsible for the Sky-Dweller’s unique and advanced features, it is actually the bezel of the watch that is used to set them.
Much like the Yacht-Master II, the Ring Command bezel on the Rolex Sky-Dweller is linked directly to its movement, and allows users to switch between different modes of adjustment for the two time zones and annual calendar complication. The fluted bezel on the Rolex Sky-Dweller is not marked; however does rotate to three different positions. By rotating, it allows the crown to have only one setting position, which significantly facilitates the setting process. This enables the wearer to set the date, local time, and reference time all from the crown without any additional buttons or pushers sticking out from the Sky-Dweller’s case.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller ref. 326939 is made entirely from 18k white gold.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller was designed to be the ultimate luxury timepiece for frequent travelers, and upon its initial release, it was only available in 18k gold; however Rolex has since expanded the collection to include both stainless steel and Rolesor (two-tone) options. Rolex has always produced tool watches, and the Sky-Dweller is a premium “tool watch” for the modern workingman. As jobs move away from manual labor, it is becoming increasingly important for a “work watch” to pair well with a suit, rather than being able to survive extreme conditions. Although it may not share the same rugged aesthetic as the Submariner or Explorer, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is the perfect “tool watch” for today’s international businessman.