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Watch Review

The Most Complicated Rolex Yet: The Rolex Sky-Dweller

Paul Altieri

At Baselworld 2012, Rolex unveiled a highly complicated wristwatch: the Sky-Dweller. Although visually resembles the current Datejust, Rolex’s Sky-Dweller is a very different timepiece. Looking past the fluted bezel and Roman numeral indices, the degree of mechanical intricacy becomes apparent. While it remains simple and elegant in appearance, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is more technically complex than many mechanical chronographs.

White Gold Skydweller
A White Gold Skydweller is a highly complicated wristwatch.

The Rolex Sky-Dweller 326939

Although the face of the Sky-Dweller is relatively simple in design, the watch is capable of simultaneously displaying the day and month, as well as two different time zones. Local time is indicated by the conventional hands positioned in the center of the watch, while a rotating, off centered, 24-hour disc displays the second time zone.

Rolex Skydweller Bracelet
A 24-hour disc displays the second time zone.


The Sky-Dweller also features Rolex’s first-ever, annual calendar. Known as Saros, this calendar mechanism is named after the Greek term for the cycle between the sun, earth, and moon. This complication automatically adjusts for the different months, and only needs to be set once per year – at the end of February. The date is displayed at the usual 3 o’clock position, while the month is indicated by twelve, separate indices located on the out-most rim of the dial.

Skydweller Wristwatch Reference 326939
The Skydweller Wristwatch Reference 326939 features Rolex’s first-ever, annual calendar.

Powering the Sky-Dweller is Rolex’s caliber 9001 movement, which contains forty jewels and beats at a frequency of 28,800 beats per hour. It is the most complex Rolex movement currently in production, and seven of the fourteen patents that protect the Sky-Dweller are for the movement alone.

Rolex Sky-Dweller 326939
Skydweller has a fluted bezel, perfect for business settings.

Given the degree of functionality of the Sky-Dweller, Rolex needed an efficient way for users to set their watch. Much like the Yacht-Master II, the Ring Command bezel of the Sky-Dweller is linked to its movement, and allows users to switch between different modes of adjustment for the two time zones and annual calendar.

Despite its tool-watch roots, Rolex does not currently offer the Sky-Dweller in stainless steel. Although there are a dozen different versions available, every single 42mm case is made of solid 18-karat gold. Customers have their choice of yellow, white or rose gold, and can even choose a leather band over an Oyster bracelet; however at this point in time, no stainless steel or two-tone versions exist.

Skydweller Reference 326939
Skydweller Reference 326939 is not offered in stainless steel.

The Rolex Sky-Dweller was designed to be the ultimate luxury timepiece for frequent travelers. 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 is made of solid gold and available on a leather band, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is the perfect “tool watch” for today’s international businessman.

Paul Altieri