It isn’t very often that Rolex releases a brand-new model. Many of the core watches in the brand’s catalog came to market during the 1950s and continue to remain in production today. Rolex’s dedication to the models that led to their immense success, coupled with various upgrades over the past several years, have been what contributes the most to Rolex’s winning formula. However, in 2012, an all-new model was added to the brand’s catalog: the Rolex Sky-Dweller.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller
Rumors swirled before the Sky-Dweller’s official release at Baselworld 2012 that a new watch was in the works. However, many Rolex aficionados speculated a new sports model and could never have guessed it would be the impressive Sky-Dweller travel watch that was ultimately released.
The first model was presented in 18kt yellow gold, white gold, and pink gold and featured Arabic or Roman numeral hour markers on the dial. Several years later, Rolex added two-tone options to the collection and updated the dial to feature luminous batons for a more contemporary aesthetic. Additionally, unlike many of Rolex’s other watches, the Sky-Dweller is also only offered on either a 3-link Oyster bracelet or a leather strap.
The Caliber 9001 Movement
The Rolex Sky-Dweller drew much inspiration from other wristwatches in the brand’s catalog, with a dual-time display, the brand’s iconic date mechanism, and a Ring Command bezel, the latter of which first appeared on the Yacht-Master II in 2007. However it presented many of these familiar traits in an all new manner.
Interestingly, unlike the Yacht-Master II, the Sky-Dweller’s Ring Comand bezel is fluted and is presented in solid gold – even on the stainless steel models (they are actually considered White Rolesor models since their bezels are 18k white gold). The Sky-Dweller’s advanced feature-specific movement and larger 42mm size would also suggest that this timepiece is a Professional series watch; however its overall aesthetics are far more in line with Rolex’s Classic series. Overall, the Rolex Sky-Dweller could be considered to be almost like a cross between a GMT-Master II and a Day-Date President.
The most remarkable function on the Sky-Dweller is its annual calendar complication, named SAROS after the lunar and solar phases, which cleverly displays the month using 12 windows located above each hour marker on the dial. A different color indicator fills the window above the current month. Like other annual calendars, the Sky-Dweller automatically compensates for months with 30 and 31 days, and only needs to be adjusted once per year at the end of February. This was Rolex’s first-ever annual calendar and has since become the model’s signature function.
The Caliber 9001 is an automatic 40-jewel movement that, despite being one of Rolex’s most complex movements, is quite easy to use once you understand how to access each of the functions within. Like many of the newer movements in the Rolex catalog, the Cal. 9001 includes a Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, a 72-hour power reserve, and a Superlative Chronometer rating.
How to use the Rolex Sky-Dweller Bezel
Unlike the bezels on most Rolex watches, the Ring Command bezel on the Sky-Dweller (along with the Yacht-Master II) is mechanically linked to the internal movement within. It allows the wearer to adjust each function based on its position, allowing for all of the various functions to be adjusted through the crown. Despite its complex functionality, it remains incredibly simple, both in terms of operation and display, and is a true marvel in modern watchmaking.
By rotating the bezel into one of three positions, the wearer can adjust either the date, local hour hand, or GMT register. This unique design also allows the crown to offer just one setting position, significantly increasing its overall ease of use.
Rolex Sky-Dweller Price at Retail
Let’s break down each edition of the Sky-Dweller by reference number as it was introduced to the market.
- The collection was initially released with a trio in solid 18k gold. The rose gold (aka Everose) was presented on leather while the yellow gold and white gold editions were fitted with matching Oyster bracelets.
- 326135 – Everose and leather
- 326938 – 18kt Yellow Gold
- 326939 – 18kt White Gold
- The Everose version is now produced on a matching rose gold Oyster bracelet. Additionally, the white and yellow gold editions received a leather bracelet option too.
- 326935 – Everose
- 326138 – Yellow Gold and Leather
- 326139 – White Gold and Leather
- Much to the relief of many collectors, the Sky-Dweller was also released in White and Yellow Rolesor, which pairs 18k gold (white and yellow, respectively) with Oystersteel and brings with it a much more obtainable price point than its all-gold predecessors.
- 326933 – Yellow Rolesor
- 326934 – White Rolesor