Rolex Sky-Dweller: Accommodating A New Era Of Travelling
In 2012, Rolex made a bold move by introducing the Sky-Dweller. It doesn’t happen that often that the brand launches an entirely new collection, let alone one as innovative (for Rolex) as this one. The name of the Sky-Dweller was appropriately selected, as its 42mm large and relatively thick case is indeed reminiscent of the brand’s most competent diving watch. The ‘Sky’ in its name refers to the fact that Rolex developed this watch, particularly for world travelers. Unlike the GMT-Master, which has a distinct heritage in aviation, being originally created for the pilots of Pan Am, the Sky-Dweller was meant for people who travel the globe for business or leisure.
As a result, the Sky-Dweller takes on a more lifestyle approach and can be seen as a very sophisticated version of the Datejust. That sophistication comes from the complications that Rolex incorporated in this model. In fact, it is safe to say that this is the most complex production watch Rolex has ever made. The most noticeable feature is the second timezone, which Rolex displays through the circular display surrounding the hands. It gives the timepiece an off-center vibe that is very stylish. As Rolex heritage dictates, it is also very legible, a perfect alternative to the extra hand fitted on the GMT-Master (II).
The other aspect that sets the Sky-Dweller apart from any other Rolex is less obvious. Windows above each hour marker on the dial allow this Rolex to also show the month, and combines this with an annual calendar function. This means that the date only has to be adjusted manually once a year in February. The Sky-Dweller features a fluted bezel that, another first for Rolex, plays an essential role in setting the watch. Named ‘Ring Command’ bezel, which sounds like something from Star Wars, you can select one of three functions to set with the crown; local time, reference time, and month/date. An ingenious function, all the more because it remains hidden, allowing the Sky-Dweller to maintain its clean Rolex appearance.
Rolex initially launched the Sky-Dweller in precious metal only; the yellow and white gold versions both came on an Oyster-bracelet made of the same material, while an Everose Sky-Dweller was fitted with a brown alligator strap. In 2014 things reversed, with the yellow and white gold Sky-Dweller becoming available on a strap and the Everose version equipped with a matching bracelet. Three years later, in 2017, the Sky-Dweller made its next big step, as Rolex introduced it in Rolesor (steel and gold) and full stainless steel. As this brought the price down significantly, the watch got an even larger following. Another noticeable change was switching from Roman numerals to their signature rectangular baton hour markers. This gave the Sky-Dweller a cleaner look, more in line with the other watches in the Professional collection, of which this model is a member.
In 2021, the Jubilee bracelet became available for the Sky-Dweller, strengthening its visual link with the Datejust even further. Now the Sky-Dweller is a full-blown collection, and with being part for the Rolex line-up for over a decade, it has proven its staying power.