The Rolex Sky Dweller was the most highly anticipated reveal at Basel World 2012. It had been a while since a new Rolex model had been revealed. As always, Rolex 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, the Sky-Dweller offered something special; an annual calendar and dual time telling capabilities.
Rolex had been implementing calendars into several of their model watches since the 1950s. The Sky-Dwellers 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 Rolex date calendar system, the Sky-Dweller features an additional two gear ratios and four gear wheels. The Sky-Dweller's 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 of the Sky-Dweller 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, Rolex fashioned a unique bezel-operating control ring called Ring Command. This control ring allows the wearer to set the date, local time, and reference time from the crown. The fluted bezel rotates to three different positions, allowing the crown to have only one setting position.
Inside, the watch is just as impressive. The Sky-Dweller features the new caliber 9001, 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. These exquisite components offer a power reserve of 72 hours.
The Sky-Dweller is available in three varying configurations: 18k white gold with a champagne dial, 18k yellow gold with a white sating dial, and everose gold with a chocolate dial.