Late last week, we showed you two new divers from Tudor and while they arguably stole the show from big-brother Rolex, that doesn’t mean Rolex didn’t come out and play at all. The big announcement from Rolex this year is the new Sky-Dweller which offers some fantastic technology but unfortunately wraps it up in a dial design that seems to have left Basel attendees rather cold. This new 42mm model comes in the three variations seen below and offers a technological first for Rolex, a watch with both an annual calendar and dual timezones. I will do my best to explain these, but please see the included video as the visual is quite helpful. The annual calendar complication means the Sky-Dweller can account for how many days are in each month so, with the exception of leap years, the Sky-Dweller won’t need to have its date advanced for months with less than 31 days. Further more, the month itself is cleverly shown on the dial via an aperture at each hour marker (see photos, eight o’clock is a different color so the Sky-Dweller is indicating it’s August), very cool.
The most visible feature on the Sky-Dweller is certainly the 24 hour wheel prominently displayed just off-center of the handset. This wheel is meant to display the reference time (time in your home timezone) while the handset is meant to show the local time. The hour hand is jump set so setting local time only involves moving the hour hand, not the entire hand set (this is faster and more accurate). This 2nd timezone complication seems to throw the familiar Datejust design off balance, making for a rather awkward dial design. While the Sky-Dweller’s dual timezone feature may be quite practical, it certainly isn’t pretty.
The Sky-Dweller has one more trick up its sleeve as Rolex has designed a simple and ingenious method of choosing which feature the crown will control when turned. The feature select is done via a four position setting in the bezel, which Rolex calls “Ring Command”. By rotating the bezel counter clockwise, the user can select month/day control, local time, and reference time (fourth setting is idle). The level of understanding that goes into a technical design such as this should not be overlooked and you can even try a simulation of it here. Rolex had to create a new in-house movement, the Calibre 9001, for the Sky-Dweller which is both chronometer certified and sports a 72 hour power reserve.
The way I see it, the Sky-Dweller is a bitter-sweet design from Rolex. On one hand, you have a complex but practical movement that integrates multiple complications into a simplified and pusher-free user interface and Rolex should be celebrated for the technical design and its implementation. On the other hand, the Sky-Dweller is neither pretty or classic in terms of its visual design. It is essentially a large Datejust with a somewhat messy dial that may appeal to some well-heeled travelers.
The fact that Rolex is not making a steel version of the Sky-Dweller could make this new model something of a novelty but I also I think that it is indicative of Rolex’s slow-but-steady march away from their tool watch roots. Pricing has yet to be announced but given that a white gold 36mm Datejust (ref 116139) had a 2011 price of $20,500 USD, it’s safe to say that the Sky-Dweller, with its host of technical additions and improvements, will retail for far more. Only time will tell if buyers will accept the Sky-Dweller as a top tier offering from one of the world best known watch brands or if it will fail to find the same rabid fan-base that surrounds many of the marques more conservative models.
This watch could be fantastically popular if they made it in steel and changed the 24 hour disc to an aperture display between the center and the crown.
Something like that already exist, it’s called the Explorer ll. This is obviously for those who like the second time complication but think that the steel only Explorer ll it’s very simple (and cheap for their taste) and the GMT ll with it’s colored dial it’s not classy enough and want a GOLD watch.
I disagree. The Explorer II is only similar in that it is steel and has a GMT function. A fluted bezel, three hands at center, and a roman numeral dial give this watch a completely different look. It is classic Rolex elegance plus discreet GMT and a vey clever annual calendar. Until this watch, Rolex only had sporty GMT watches that could pass as business appropriate; this watch is for business travelers who want a refined look. I think that the 24 dial is obtrusive and needs to be adjusted. I could personally care less about steel versus gold, but I think that they should give the option (as they do for datejusts) if they want this watch to be widely worn.
Oh, and the GMT Master II is the relevant comparison. The Explorer II?! Do you sign your name in crayon?
YOU’RE SUGGESTING THAT ROLEX EXTEND A LINE OF WATCHES TO YOUR SPECIFICATIONS, NOT LIKELY.
STOP SHOUTING, WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING…
I agree I think Rolex have got ot bang on why have stainless steel models they have that with the Classic Models that exist with numerous variations. Any body know when I can get the Everrose with chocolate dial ???
Should definitely have been available in steel. Bad move by Rolex. Even those that can afford this watch may not particularly want it in white gold. I agree entirely with your theory about the 24hr disc. The only reason I can think of that Rolex didn’t do this is because it would be too close to the date aperture making the dial look rather more confusing and unbalanced.
This is a very nice watch and you can understand why Rolex wasn’t able to centralise the second timezone 24hr wheel, but as for this fuction I think I would just rather have a GMT hand on the dial and do away with the rotating 24hr disc. In a way it does compromise the dial.
Every model should be gold or platinum, thats what makes it special….I don’t want everyone to be able to go to the store and buy it, we should have to work for it and thats what makes it special.
this watch is going to be # 1 on all fine watch collectors lists, cant wait to get it!!
The Datejusts definately looks better in person than in pictures. I was impressed how shiny and nice it looks on a wrist, especially the white gold or the stainless steel ones. I have not seen yellow gold ones except the sub and gmt but I do like the look of it in the above photographs thought I imagine it will be very heavy at 42mm.
Does anyone have an idea of how much the Ever Rose would retail for?
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finally, took them 20 plus years to come up with a new model
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i actually think the white gold is perfect in this NEW model, as it would be boring if they had of done in it like all the rest of the stainless orignals, again, this is something NEW that Rolex is trying.
>The annual calendar complication means the Sky-Dweller can account for how many days are in each month so, with the exception of leap years, the Sky-Dweller won’t need to have its date advanced for months with less than 31 days
Wait what? What about February? You will still have to adjust the date on this once a year on March 1st.
The everose gold chocolate dial WHERE can I buy one
I believe Rolex will introduce a S.S. version sooner than later.
It’s looks like a jumble of old Rolex parts, stuck together! I’m sure it is very clever but looks out of date already, not good. I love Rolex sports and have owned many but this is like a dress watch trying to be sporty, not good!
It’s a nice watch but how would you read the time if your in India??
The look of this Rolex is great. Large face with a weighty look and feel.
Rolex sky Dweller is spectacular. loved the new design