One of the most complex models produced by the Crown, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is also one of the most practical and easy-to-consult GMT and calendar watches on the market today. Following the big splash made by the release of the much-awaited 2020 Submariners, Rolex has also tweaked its upscale traveller’s watch. The novelty for the 2020 Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller is the incorporation of an Oysterflex, the first in this family to include the brand’s high-performance elastomer bracelet. Unlike the Submariner, the size of the Sky-Dweller has not been increased and nothing has changed regarding the case or dial. The ambassador for the new Sky-Dweller is the 18k yellow gold model with a bright black dial, although there are various configuration possibilities, including the Everose/Chocolate version also seen here.
Complexity made simple
The Sky-Dweller, one of the most complicated models developed by Rolex, was presented at Baselworld 2012. A watch designed for globetrotters, the Sky-Dweller is a functional travel companion with a second time zone and annual calendar, and a unique “Ring Command” bezel to set the functions. What sets the Sky-Dweller apart from so many GMT watches is its deceptively simple display made possible by an extremely complex movement protected by no less than 11 patents. Unlike the GMT-Master originally designed for Pan Am pilots, the Sky-Dweller is dressier and targeted to high-flying travellers.
The display of the Sky-Dweller is highly intuitive: local time is displayed with the 3 central hands; the second time zone or reference time is displayed on a rotating 24-hour disc in the centre of the dial and indicated by an inverted red triangle; the date is displayed at 3 o’clock under a classic Cyclops lens; the month is arranged in 12 small apertures on the periphery of the dial at the tip of the indices which change from to white to red accordingly. The annual calendar automatically differentiates between 30 and 31-day months, meaning that only one adjustment is required a year, on 1 March.
Not only is it one of the easiest-to-consult GMT and calendar displays, but it is also one of the easiest-to-adjust thanks to the unique rotating Ring Command bezel. Instead of incorporating a crown with multiple positions to set the different functions, or relying on pushers tucked into the caseband, Rolex developed a unique system of adjustment via the bezel. The Ring Command bezel can be rotated to select the date, the local time and the reference time, which can then be adjusted in either direction using the winding crown.
Although it is made from elastomer, the Oysterflex bracelet cannot be written off as a conventional black rubber strap. A hybrid between a metal bracelet and a rubber strap, the Oysterflex is made up of flexible metal blades in titanium and nickel which are over-moulded with high-performance black elastomer. This combination ensures the resilience of a metal bracelet with the flexibility and comfort of a rubber strap, especially thanks to the “flaps” on the back that hug the wrist. The Oysteflex bracelet has a folding Oysterclasp in yellow or rose gold and features Rolex’s proprietary Glidelock extension system with six notches of 2.5mm allowing the length of the bracelet to be adjusted up to 15mm without tools.
Case and dial
The robust 42mm Oyster case is crafted from a solid piece of 18k yellow gold or Everose gold, and is waterproof to depths of 100 metres. The screw-down Twinlock winding crown and the hermetically screwed-down caseback ensure the case’s water-resistance. The unique rotatable Ring Command bezel is rendered in typical Rolex style with hallmark fluting. The dial is bright black with a sunray finish and features applied hour markers in gold to match the case, all treated with Chromalight that emits a long-lasting blue glow in the dark. The gold hour and minute hands are skeletonised at the base and also treated with Chromalight at their tips. In contrast to the glossy sunray finish of the black dial, the second time zone disc is slightly recessed and features a sandblasted finish.
Developed and manufactured by Rolex, automatic calibre 9001 is regarded as one of the most complex movements created by the brand. Fitted with Paraflex shock absorbers, a large variable inertia balance wheel and the anti-magnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, the movement is shock-resistant and designed to weather everyday wear and tear. The Sky-Dweller has also earned COSC chronometer certification and Rolex’s own Superlative Chronometer certification and comes with an international five-year guarantee. The movement beats at 4Hz and provides up to 72 hours of power reserve.
Configurations & prices
Although the 18k yellow gold/black dial model on the Oysterflex bracelet is the showcase piece today, there are currently six possible configurations of the 2020 Sky-Dweller:
- 326238 – Yellow gold with black, champagne or white dial and black Oysterflex bracelet
- 326235 – Everose gold with chocolate, white or dark rhodium dial and black Oysterflex bracelet
The 18k yellow gold Sky-Dweller models retail for EUR 37,700, the Everose Sky-Dweller models for EUR 39,000. To get an accurate price in your region, please consult the official Rolex webpage.