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Watch Review

Watch Reviews Under $30k: The Rolex Sky-Dweller 326934

Paul Altieri

In 2012, Rolex released a brand-new and highly complicated line of wristwatches intended to occupy the flagship position among their fleet of premium, luxury timepieces. Named the Sky-Dweller, Rolex’s new watch aimed to bring a high degree of modern functionality to the classic and timeless Rolex aesthetic.

Fitted with a fluted bezel and Oyster bracelet, the Sky-Dweller collection is visually very similar to Rolex’s contemporary Datejust and Day-Date lines of watches. However, the highly complex Caliber 9001 movement inside the Sky-Dweller’s 42 mm case offers its users a wealth of information and unparalleled functionality.

Sky-Dweller 326934
The Sky-Dweller 326934 is a timepiece that is truly unique for its capabilities.

About the Sky-Dweller 326934

Although it still only has three hands, the Sky-Dweller is capable of simultaneously displaying two different time zones, as well as the date, month and time of day. Local time is read off the traditional, center-mounted hands, while an off-center 24-hour disc displays the secondary time zone in the center of the dial. The date is displayed at the usual 3 o’clock position under a Cyclops magnification lens, while the month is indicated by twelve, separate window-cutout indices located on the outmost rim of the dial.

The Sky-Dweller’s high degree of functionality is augmented by the inclusion of Rolex’s first-ever, annual calendar -excluding the Rolex Triple Date from decades ago. Named Saros, after the Greek term for the cycle between the sun, earth, and moon, this complication automatically adjusts the date for the different number of days in each month, and only needs to be set once per year – at the very end of February.

Sky-Dweller 326934
The Sky-Dweller 326934 is able to keep track of the year, month, and day.

The Caliber 9001

While its dial remains relatively uncluttered, and its overall design is simple and elegant in appearance, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is more complex than many mechanical chronographs. The forty-jewel, entirely in-house Caliber 9001 is the most complex Rolex movement currently in production, and seven of the fourteen patents that surround the Sky-Dweller pertain to the movement alone.

Due to the high-degree of functionality provided by the Caliber 9001 movement, setting and adjusting its annual calendar and secondary time zone display would be a painstaking process if users were forced to do so through the crown alone. Traditionally, manufacturers who had produced a highly complex timepiece would place small pushers on the side of the watchcase, which allowed owners to engage specific complications of the movement and facilitate the setting process.

Sky-Dweller 326934
The Sky-Dweller 326934 has a few design updates since the last

When designing the Sky-Dweller, Rolex chose to link the outer bezel of the watch to the movement inside, rather than placing pushers flush on the side of the case as a means to facilitate the setting process. This system, which Rolex uses on their Yacht-Master II line of regatta chronographs is known as a Ring Command bezel, and allows for a significantly more efficient setting and adjustment process. In addition to being a more elegant design, this approach also minimizes the number of necessary seals for the case of the watch, which invariably improves long-term water resistance.

For those that require the functionality of the Sky-Dweller, but who also wish to have a modest and practical watch for everyday wear and use, the reference 326934 is an excellent option that is primarily craft from 904L stainless steel. Although the reference 326934 Sky-Dweller does incorporate a fluted bezel made from 18-karat white gold (a combination that Rolex calls White Rolesor), the predominantly stainless steel watch is both significantly lighter and more durable than its solid gold counterparts.

Sky-Dweller 326934
The Sky-Dweller 326934 is crafted with exceptional materials.

Sky-Dweller 326934 In Gold

When it was originally released, the Sky-Dweller was only offered in solid 18-karat gold; however Rolex now produces their flagship line of watches for jetsetters and frequent business travelers in a wide variety of different metal combinations. Although a solid gold construction provides owners with an ultra-premium feel and finish, the added weight and wrist presence of a solid gold, 42 mm watch may not be to everyone’s liking for an everyday watch.

The entire Sky-Dweller line is now just only several years old, and the various Rolesor variations are an even more recent addition to Rolex’s lineup. Even still, the reference 326934 can be found both brand-new and on the pre-owned market. Savings between new and used prices can be significant, however unlike other Rolex watches that are craft entirely from precious metals, a brand-new reference 326934 Sky-Dweller does not come with quite as high of a price premium when purchased brand-new from an authorized dealer.

Sky-Dweller 326934
The Sky-Dweller 326934 is perfect for the everyday man.

Rolex’s state-of-the-art Caliber 9001 movement is a feat in mechanical engineering, and incorporates high-precision parts and proprietary materials to create one of the most complex calibers that Rolex has ever manufactured. Due to the extensive functionality of the Caliber 9001, and the degree of mechanical engineering proficiency required to properly manufacture a movement with comparable function, it would be near impossible for counterfeiters to manufacture a convincing replica (with comparable functionality) at an efficient price point.

Consequently, whenever purchasing a reference 326934 Sky-Dweller, always verify that all functions work exactly as they should before making a final purchase. Counterfeiters are getting increasingly better at replicating the minute details of Rolex’s designs; however the highly innovative design of the Sky-Dweller’s Caliber 9001 movement is not something that can be inexpensively replicated.

Sky-Dweller 326934
The Sky-Dweller 326934 can be adjusted by used the rotating bezel.

The reference 326934 is a Sky-Dweller that Rolex designed for individuals to enjoy as an everyday watch and feature-rich traveler’s companion. While the various 18-karat gold versions of the Sky-Dweller represent the most luxurious and prestigious renditions of Rolex’s latest flagship line of watches, the reference 326934 is the most affordable and practical reference that offers users the same exact functionality at a fraction of the price.

Paul Altieri