As the brand does each year, for 2021, Rolex introduced a series of new model line extensions for its popular watches. In the Sky-Dweller family, we timepiece lovers get six new models, each paired with one of Rolex’s Jubilee-style multi-link bracelets. The new 2021 Rolex Sky-Dweller watches include mostly steel models (the fluted bezels are always in gold), as well as two-tone Rolesor versions. Rolex already offers the Sky-Dweller on Oyster-style bracelets, as well as Oysterflex straps. On the Jubilee bracelet, the reference 326933 and 326934 (as pictured in this post) very much feel like “Super Datejusts” with highly similar personalities but with larger cases and more complicated movements than the icon Datejust.
This is a good opportunity to mention that even though the current generation Rolex Datejust 41 and the Sky-Dweller are 1mm different in size on paper, the 42mm-wide Sky-Dweller is the larger and thicker watch that, in my opinion, is best suited to larger wrist sizes. The price difference between the two models is also not incredibly appreciable, though both in 2021 terms are difficult to acquire. My guess is that the Sky-Dweller is today going to be still be harder to get than the Datejust on account of the Sky-Dweller being a lower-production product.
Inside the Sky-Dweller is the sophisticated in-house-made Rolex caliber 9001 automatic movement. Next to the chronograph movement inside the Daytona watches, this is the most complicated mechanical movement that Rolex currently produces. The automatic-winding caliber 9001 features the time, GMT indicator dial, and annual calendar that indicates both the date and the month. The 4Hz operational frequency movement operates with about three days of power reserve and features one of Rolex’s most interesting movement adjustment feature systems using the bezel that Rolex calls “Ring Command.” I previously reviewed the Rolex Sky-Dweller watch here where I talk more about the movement and wearing this interesting Rolex model family.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller might be the brand’s most “horologically friendly” product, but it has struggled to take on a design theme unto itself. Early versions of the Sky-Dweller dial were not universally loved and, over time, Rolex has made appreciable improvements to the dial. The problem is that the design of the Sky-Dweller, other than gain its own personality, has merged with a more generic Rolex design DNA incorporating many elements found in other Rolex models. This is, of course, not entirely uncommon with the brand, but since the Sky-Dweller is still a relatively new product pillar at Rolex, I think the result is that consumers are easily confused when it comes to which model to focus attention on. Then again, these days the operative question for many hopeful Rolex buyers is merely, “What model can I find and afford?”
The most popular of the new 2021 Rolex Sky-Dweller watches will probably be the reference 362934 steel models (with 18k white gold fluted bezels) that come in the pictured black dial, as well as white and a hip metallic blue. These same dials are also available in Sky-Dweller watches with the three-link Oyster bracelets – and each of these represent the entry-price point for the Sky-Dweller collection (which is still over $14,000 USD). The 362933 reference includes three steel and yellow gold “Rolesor” versions that also represent dial colors Rolex fans are familiar with in the Datejust family. Because it costs just over $3,000 more than the mostly steel version, I have a feeling that the Rolesor Sky-Dweller models are going to be a sweet spot between price and availability. That said, given today’s trends, the mostly steel 362934 models will be the “cooler” of the Sky-Dweller watches to own.
While Rolex has larger Oyster Professional sport watches available, the Sky-Dweller remains the largest of Rolex’s dressier models, and that alone gives it appeal among many wearers. For me the appeal is largely based on its bold dimensions, complicated movements, and the fact that it isn’t among the more commonly seen Rolex watches out there. Rolex designed the Sky-Dweller as a more intellectually compelling variant of the GMT-Master II for today’s generation of traveler. The GMT-Master might have been intended for people who fly planes, but the Sky-Dweller is really meant for people who regularly move around in them. The world has changed much since Rolex originally introduced the Sky-Dweller collection several years ago, and it will take a bit longer for the Sky-Dweller to truly carve its mark in the larger pantheon of cherished Rolex themes. Until then, I appreciate the more niche appeal of the Sky-Dweller and its excellent mechanism. It might be a bigger watch, but there is certainly a market for that. Price for the mostly steel with 18k white gold bezel Rolex Sky-Dweller 362934 is $14,300 USD, and the price for the two-tone Rolesor Sky-Dweller 362934 models is $17,400 USD. Learn more at the Rolex website here.