The Sky-Dweller was launched in 2012 as a watch for global travelers. This watch combines dual-time zone and annual calendar complications, and can distinguish between 30 and 31 day months. Despite its complex functionality, the model remains remarkably easy to use. 2020 update: the suggested retail price starts at $14,800 & increases depending on the metal used. For a list of models click on our used Rolex watches page.
First introduced in 2012, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is the ultimate luxury watch for global travelers, and currently holds the title of being the most complicated Rolex watch ever made. The new model was the most highly anticipated reveal at Basel World 2012. It had been a while since a new model had been revealed by the brand. As always, the company remained silent on the topic until the silk curtain was lifted. Once revealed, the watch surprised many with its intricate design and highly technical offerings. Appearing visually similar to the Day Date, this model offered something special; an annual calendar and dual time telling capabilities.
Although its overall appearance may be somewhat similar to the classic design of Rolex’s other watch collections, the mechanism inside the Oyster case of the Sky-Dweller is a technological masterpiece that allows it to offer unparalleled functionality while retaining all the same sophistication of Rolex's more traditional and less complicated watches. Depending on the model, this technological masterpiece is protected by 11 to 14 patents. An ideal choice for global travelers.
The Rolex-Sky-Dweller features a 42mm Oyster case, fitted with a sapphire crystal and a screw-down crown and caseback. Like most other Rolex watch models, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is waterproof up to 100 meters, despite not being a watch specifically designed for use underwater. While it may look like some of the other Rolex watch models, the Sky-Dweller features a highly complex, state-of-the-art movement that features both a dual time zone display and an annual calendar complication.
Displaying the date and month, plus two time zones simultaneously has the potential to create a rather cluttered visual presentation; however, the Rolex Sky-Dweller does an excellent job of maintaining an elegant and highly legible display. Local time is indicated by the traditional hours, minutes, and central seconds hands, while reference time appears as a 24-hour display on an off center rotating disc. The date of the month is in the usual location at 3 o'clock, while the month itself is indicated by 12 windows around the perimeter of the dial (corresponding with the 12 months of the year), with a red rectangle appearing inside the window of the given month.
Although the Rolex Sky-Dweller was originally only released in solid gold (all three colors), the collection has expanded to include both stainless steel and Rolesor (two-tone stainless steel and gold) models. Technically speaking, the stainless steel Rolex Sky-Dweller is actually a White Rolesor model, since its fluted Ring Command bezel is crafted from 18k white gold rather than stainless steel like the rest of the watch and bracelet. Additionally, while most Rolex Sky-Dweller watches are fitted with metal Oyster bracelets with latching folding clasps, there are certain solid gold Sky-Dweller models that can be found with black or brown alligator leather straps.
Inside, the watch is just as impressive. The Sky-Dweller is powered by Rolex's in-house Caliber 9001 movement, considered one of the most complex Rolex calibers yet. As usual, the caliber is COSC Certified, and offers 28,800 beats per hour. The interior of the component features a parachrom hairspring, paraflex shock absorbers, and a large variable inertia balance wheel.
Designed, developed, and manufactured entirely in-house by Rolex, the Caliber 9001 is protected by 7 patents and is one of the most complex movements ever created by the brand. Featuring 40 jewels, a blue Parachrom hairspring, and high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, the Caliber 9001 offers a 72-hour power reserve and is a Certified Swiss Chronometer, certified both by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) and Rolex's more-stringent, in-house testing process.
In addition to the time of day, the Caliber 9001 also features a second time zone display on an off-centre disc, and 'Saros' - an annual calendar with date and month display. While traditional calendar complications require resetting after every month that does not have 31 days, a dual calendar complication automatically adjusts for different numbers of days in each month, and only requires resetting once per year at the end of February.
Rolex had been implementing calendars into several of their model watches since the 1950s. The annual calendar is based on a mechanism called SAROS, named after the Greek term for the cycle of the earth, moon, and sun. Along with the traditional brands date calendar system, the line features an additional two gear ratios and four gear wheels. The annual calendar mechanism is centered on a fixed planetary gear wheel, representing the sun, at the center of the movement. A satellite wheel, representing the earth, engages the planetary gear each month, driven by the date disc. Thus, when the right number of dates has passed, the wheel will turn to reveal the new month. An additional satellite wheel, representing the moon, is fitted with four fingers for the four 30-day months. At the end of each 30-day month, one of the satellite wheel’s fingers receives an extra impulse from the date-change mechanism, which causes the date to jump two days nearly instantly. To know which months are 30 days and which are not, each month is indicated on a small rectangular aperture on the outside of the hour track. Thus, January is represented by the 1 o'clock mark, while June is represented by the 6 o'clock mark.
The other fascinating component is certainly its ability to tell time in two different locations. The local time is displayed by the dial and hands. The date component is connected to the local time. However, there is an off-centered rotating disc with numbers ranging from 1 to 24 above the 6 o'clock mark. This is used to tell time in a subsequent location. A small red arrow sits below the 12 o’clock mark, pointing to the time in the secondary location.
To control the various time and date components of the watch, this watch fashioned a unique bezel. While it may look like a traditional Rolex fluted bezel, the bezel on the Sky-Dweller is actually one of of Rolex’s Ring Command bezels. Like other fluted Rolex bezels, the bezel on the Sky-Dweller is constructed from 18k gold (yellow, white, or Everose); however it also has an important function to the operation of the watch. Rather than being strictly decorative like other fluted bezels, the rotatable fluted Ring Command bezel on the Rolex Sky-Dweller is linked directly to the internal movement, and turning it to different positions enables the wearer to set either the date, local time, or reference time on the watch.
Despite having a relatively short history, the Rolex Sky-Dweller has been produced with a variety of different dials. Standard Sky-Dweller dial colors include black, white, blue, and champagne (gold); however other dial colors such as chocolate brown, silver, ivory, dark rhodium, and sundust have also made appearances on the Rolex Sky-Dweller, particularly on models crafted from Everose gold.
Additionally, certain dial colors are only available on certain Sky-Dweller models. The blue face only appears on the stainless steel Sky-Dweller, while chocolate brown dials are exclusively found on Everose pink gold models. Furthermore, while Rolex Sky-Dweller dials have been manufactured with Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, and classic stick-indexes for their hour markers, the brand has yet to release any iced out Sky-Dweller watches with diamond dials.
Due to the range of materials that are used for Sky-Dweller watches, prices can range dramatically, depending on the precious metals used in their construction. Suggested retail prices (as of 2019) for the stainless steel model with the white gold bezel start at $14,800; however retail prices for the solid Everose gold versions top out at more than three times that at $49,450. Additionally, due to the widespread desirability and relatively small number of stainless steel Rolex Sky-Dweller watches currently in circulation, prices on the secondary market have increased above retail, with pre-owned examples selling for more than even the two-tone models.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller is one of the most popular watches in the world; however due to its relatively short history, virtually all references enjoy a considerable amount of popularity among today’s collectors. Versions of the Rolex Sky-Dweller include the following references:
The Sky-Dweller is available in varying configurations such as: 18k white gold with a champagne dial, 18k yellow gold with a white sating dial, and everose gold with a chocolate dial.
Many high-profile individuals wear Rolex watches, and as the ultimate watch for the modern world traveler, it is a natural choice for many top A-list celebrities who spend significant amounts of time on the road. Larger, more luxurious, and more feature-rich than the vast majority of its siblings in the Rolex catalog, the Sky-Dweller is a perfect fit for those who want the classic Rolex aesthetic but all the functionality of a multi-time zone travelers watch. The following list of celebrities have already been spotted wearing Rolex Sky-Dweller watches; however, the list keeps growing as more individuals become aware of the day-to-day practicality of this complex Rolex watch.
The annual calendar complication on the Sky-Dweller will automatically adjust the date display to account for months with different days; however it will require re-setting once per year at the end of February. Additionally, due to the high degree of functionality provided by the Caliber 9001 movement inside the Rolex Sky-Dweller, setting the watch involves more than simply adjusting the hands to show the correct time. For complete instructions on how to set the Rolex Sky-Dweller, check out our Rolex Sky-Dweller Setting Instructions page.