An all-new model slips out of the gates of the Rolex compound about as frequently as astrologers discover a new planet. After the 1963 launch of the Daytona, we had to wait an incredible 28 years before another one came along, in the shape of the Yacht-Master in 1992. However, since the new millennium, Rolex has thankfully introduced several new models including the Depasea, Yacht-Master II, redesigned Cellini, and of course, the Rolex Sky-Dweller collection.
The Sky-Dweller collection debuted at Baselworld in 2012, and it was very different from what was in Rolex’s existing catalog. The Sky-Dweller is one of the most complicated modern Rolex watches to date, yet, in true Rolex fashion, super easy to use and practical in day-to-day life. The Rolex Sky-Dweller 326939 reference is the full 18k white gold Sky-Dweller variant, which was one of the original releases but is no longer in production. Keep on reading as we go in-depth with this striking, and now discontinued, white gold Rolex Sky-Dweller ref. 326939.
About the White Gold Rolex Sky-Dweller 326939
Rolex Sky-Dweller 326939 White Gold Quick Specs:
- Production Years: 2012 – 2018
- Case Size: 42mm
- Case Materials: 18k White Gold
- Bezel: Fluted White Gold; Ring Command
- Dial: Silver, Black, White, Blue
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Functions: Dual Time, Month Indicator, Date Window, Annual Calendar
- Bracelet: White Gold Oyster
- Caliber: 9001 Automatic Movement
The Sky-Dweller’s Design
The look of the Sky-Dweller is revolutionary for a company that usually updates its well-tested and timeless designs at an almost glacial pace. Those three original models released in 2012, in yellow, Everose, and white gold, are unlike any other timepiece in the Rolex lineup.
Described as the quintessential watch for world travelers, the combination of an annual calendar, along with the GMT indicator to track dual time zones, is designed to give globetrotters all the information they need at a glance, all with that discreetly understated Rolex flair.
To achieve it, Rolex built on the architecture and underlying technology first seen in the Yacht-Master II that appeared a few years prior. The Sky-Dweller is fitted with the innovative Ring Command Bezel, a multi-functional component integrated with the winding crown to control the watch’s various operations.
But where the Yacht-Master II had to rely on the addition of pushers to activate a number of its features, such as the on-the-fly synchronization, the Sky-Dweller’s pioneering three-position bezel does away with the need for any extra buttons, leaving the watch with more elegant, minimalistic lines.
Powering everything, inside is the Caliber 9001. With 380 separate parts, it’s the most intricate and complex movement Rolex has ever engineered and also the second most highly jeweled. It controls the first annual calendar complication from the Swiss watchmaker, known as SAROS after the Greek term for the 18-year cycle of the sun, Earth, and Moon. It’s a simple yet brilliantly intelligent mechanism that compensates for the months with 30 and 31 days and only requires resetting once a year, on March 1st due to February’s particular day count.
Along with the staggering part count, sixty of which are utilized by the bezel alone, the Cal. 9001 is fitted with everything we’ve come to expect from a modern Rolex. COSC certified, the in-house movement features the Parachrom bleu hairspring and Paraflex shock absorption, and has a 72-hour power reserve.
How Does The Sky-Dweller Work?
While most certainly useful and definitely impressive, the thing about watches with complications is that they tend to be, well, complicated. It’s one of the reasons Rolex’s catalog is conspicuously low on models with too many functions packed into one watch. As a brand, Rolex has always stuck to doing the simple things better than anyone else and leaving the complex gimmicks to others.
However, when they do decide to jump in, it’s with typical Rolex panache. The Sky-Dweller is an imposingly complicated timepiece, yet its operation and legibility are stunning in their simplicity.
The Ring Command is, of course, the key. Each quarter turn of the fluted bezel unlocks a different action. From the start location, the first counter-clockwise position allows you to adjust the date in the three o’clock window, forwards or backward. Another quarter turn gives you independent control over the center hour hand. And in the final position, all of the functions sync and you can set the reference time in the 24-hour GMT disk.
All this is achieved with just the winding crown, which itself only has one position. As an example of mechanical sophistication, it’s hard to beat.
Sky-Dweller 326939 in White Gold
The Sky-Dweller series, all housed in 42mm cases, follow the recent trend from Rolex for larger watch sizes, and with its widely spaced lugs, it feels even bigger.
Of the three precious metal references introduced in 2012, the 18k white gold Sky-Dweller ref. 326939 became the most sought-after, but for many fans, any version of the watch remains an acquired taste. It’s the distinctive dial that has split the most opinion and caused the most controversy, specifically that open GMT display.
While arguably easier to read than their other dual time zone pieces, the GMT-Master II and the Explorer II, the off-center 24-hour dial is a big departure from the Rolex norm. Against the ivory satin of the 326939, the white of the sub-dial is a subtle feature, adding to that variant’s more versatile appeal. Compared to the Everose and yellow gold offerings, the white gold model has a more go-with-anything aesthetic.
The only pop of color in the otherwise completely monochrome face is in the inverted red triangle above the disk, indicating the hour back home while you’re on your travels.
A small aperture above each of the hour markers indicates the month. Fortunately, there are as many months of the year as there are hours in the day, so on the Sky-Dweller, a black window over the 12 o’clock tells you it’s December, 1 o’clock is January, etc. The high contrast makes it supremely easy to read. The date is connected to the local time, set on the main center hands, and changes instantaneously at midnight.
When Rolex introduced the Sky-Dweller ref. 326939, the watch was fitted with a silver dial and white gold applied Roman numerals. However, two years later in 2014, Rolex expanded the dial selections of the Sky-Dweller collection. The white gold Sky-Dweller then became available with a black dial with Arabic numerals and a white 24-hour disk.
Finally, a few years later in 2017, Rolex redesigned all Sky-Dweller dials, including the reference 326939, to feature luminous baton indexes and dropped the Arabic and Roman numeral options. The Sky-Dweller 326939 then became available with black, white, or blue baton dials. However, these are exceedingly rare because Rolex discontinued the white gold Sky-Dweller the following year.
White Gold Sky-Dweller Dial Evolution
- 2012: Silver dial with Roman numerals
- 2014: Black dial with Arabic numerals
- 2017: Stick dials with luminous batons in white, black, or blue
- 2018: Sky-Dweller ref. 326939 discontinued
The Sky-Dweller 326939 is fitted with a white gold Oyster bracelet. As you can imagine, the white gold 42mm case paired with the matching bracelet makes it one hefty watch to wear. It’s also worth mentioning that Rolex made a white gold Sky-Dweller with a leather strap too (2014 to 2018), which carries the reference number 326139.
How Much Does a White Gold Sky-Dweller Cost?
As mentioned, Rolex discontinued the white gold Sky-Dweller in 2018. The last published manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the Rolex Sky-Dweller ref. 326939 was $48,850. To compare, the version with the leather strap (ref. 326139) retailed for $39,550.
In today’s market, prices for a pre-owned Rolex Sky-Dweller ref. 326939 in white gold start at around $41,500.
Dressy, But Highly Functional
In the run-up to its introduction a few years ago, many of the brand faithful were deliberating over the name Sky-Dweller and trying to imagine what Rolex had up their sleeves for their first new offering in a generation. Much of the talk was of a big brother for the GMT-Master II, an aviator’s watch for serious professionals in the same mold as the Sea-Dweller versus the Submariner.
What emerged instead was one of the most complicated, and most expensive, watches Rolex has ever produced, proving once and for all that it’s not worth trying to second guess the world’s biggest watchmaker. The Sky-Dweller shares some design traits with the dressy Datejust and Day-Date — namely that fluted bezel, date window, and Cyclops lens — but benefits from added functionality typically found on Rolex sports watches.
The Sky-Dweller’s distinct design is unmistakable and its mechanical brilliance is enviable. The white gold version is perfect for the Rolex fan that appreciates precious metals but likes to keep it low-key.