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Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

The Rolex Sky-Dweller was released in 2012 as the brand's first totally new watch collection in over 10 years. Naturally, at the time of the release this was major news, and not only because it was a completely new reference from the brand. It was was also a watch that included a new movement with a new complication for Rolex - an annual calendar and GMT - and it remains Rolex's most complicated watch. New for Baselworld 2017 is a refreshed model in gold and steel with some tweaks to make the dial sleeker. These new "Rolesor" models are also less than half the cost of the previous versions, which will open the line up to a whole new market.

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Initially only available in gold with prices between CHF 35,000 and CHF 45,000, these new gold and steel Rolex Sky-Dweller models are way less, ranging between CHF13,700 to CHF16,300 which basically fills in the market between the Datejust and the President (while being less aggressive and sporty than the Yacht-Master watch). It's a Rolex that isn't as ubiquitous as the Datejust 41 for not an absurd amount of money more (the steel and gold Datejust 41 costs $12,700).

At 42mm wide, it's one of the bigger Rolex watches out there and that alone likely presents a lot of appeal to people who prefer a bigger case - and it has a 100m of water resistance to boot. With the fluted bezel, it looks unmistakably Rolex, which is also an important factor in many people's Rolex purchase decisions.

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

The original Sky-Dweller (white gold on black leather strap)

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

The first generation Rolex Sky-Dweller's restrictive price and the fact that it only came on a leather strap kept the watch from breaking through to a wider market segment, but I wouldn't be surprised if you start to see a lot more of them now. They look great in person, and the use of indices rather than Roman or Arabic numerals make the dial look a lot sleeker and less disorienting (than a ring of numbers around the off-center 24-hour disc). I think comparing the two images above helps illustrate the more casual and less, let's say, "formal" look and feeling of these new pieces, further aided by the bracelet option.

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

I think it makes sense to discuss the Rolex Sky-Dweller a bit more since it isn't a piece most people are really too familiar with. When it was released in 2012, the Rolex Sky-Dweller came as a bit of a shock to the watch world, since Rolex tends to be very conservative and primarily introduces new watches only with minor variations or small updates. With the new model and movement Rolex had made available for the first time, an annual calendar and second time zone watch was notably innovative for two big reasons.

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

First, to show the month of the year, Rolex added a small aperture to the conveniently existent 12 indices used to show the hour in most watches. So, to show the month of March, a small aperture on the outside of the 3 o'clock index is colored to contrast with the dial's color. It's a very intuitive way to read the month and a clever way of displaying it without adding clutter. The red color used to display the month is echoed in the triangle that indicates the GMT time, and it looks good in a different way with each of the dial colors: blue, white, black, and champagne on these new "Rolesor" Rolex Sky-Dweller watches.

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

The other aspect of the Rolex Sky-Dweller which is innovative is the patented Rolex Ring Command innovation that makes use of the bezel as a sort of multi-switch to allow only the crown to be used in order to change the time and the date. By turning the Rolex Sky-Dweller fluted bezel a quarter turn left until it clicks, the crown can now be used to quickly change the hour both forward and backward.

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Turn it one more quarter turn and now you can change the minutes hand, hacking the seconds hand. Turn it once more, and now the crown can be used to quickly cycle the date forward and backward, which will also move the month indicator as the date passes 30 or 31, depending on the current month. So if the indicator is showing March, passing the 31st day, the month indicator moves to the 4 o'clock index indicating April. Providing all these functions in the annual calendar/GMT Rolex Sky-Dweller watch is the Rolex caliber 9001 which has a 3-day power reserve.

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches In Two-Tone Steel & Gold Hands-On Hands-On

As we mentioned, with the stainless steel and gold Rolesor versions, Rolex is essentially offering a much more affordable version of its most complicated watch (and one of its most expensive). I think it's easy to see it as the answer to the question nobody asked, but that's a little cynical in my point of view, as I really think there are buyers looking for something more upmarket & with more character than the Datejust. Rolex released six new models of the Rolesor Rolex Sky-Dweller, reference 326934, with white gold and either blue, white, or black dials priced at CHF 13,700. The version with yellow gold reference 326933 goes for a bit more at a price of CHF 16,300 and offers also three dial variations: champagne, white, or black.

Either way you go these will make for a solid travel companion or everyday business watch with the Rolex unique fluted bezel look, in a modern-sized 42mm case, and with a complicated in-house Rolex movement. rolex.com

About the Author

My name is Michael Maximilien and typically simply go by 'max' or 'dr.max' or my last name. As an engineer and scientist I tend to love gadgets and tinkering with stuff. While software engineering is my day job there is something that my everyday electronic devices lack that I find in mechanical devices... Maybe it's that they have a heart and they can break. In any case the soulful nature of timepieces is what primarily attracts me to watches along with their utility and the art and superb details and finishing that some exhibit. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @WatchMax
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  • ProJ

    The dial on last year’s WG version (the one with the Arabic numerals) certainly looks better than this year’s one with baton markers.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    5 watches in one day !

    • IG

      Basel-time baby!

  • IG

    Rolex’s grand complication!!!

  • ??????

    The dial is simply ugly.

  • Lawrence

    Getting cheappppp nice. Now I don’t want it

  • Spangles

    A very strong candidate for a go anywhere do anything, single watch.

    • Andrew Welch

      I’ve been thinking if I should sell my sub and get the skydweller as only watch or add a DJ 41

  • Yojimbo

    I think we’ve reached peak Rolex in terms of Basel reporting, how about following some of the other leads out there and talk about the new releases from others?

  • TC Yee

    The dial is simply awesome.

  • Karson Barnes

    I always loved the sky dweller from when it was first released. This is an awesome update and they have it at an amazing price point.
    Love it!

  • gw01

    Those stick hour markers… I’m in love. Elevating the bezel to part of the interface with the crown is quite remarkable. Twin-lock makes it an all around piece. Wow.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I think the word fugly would be appropriate here.

  • Chaz

    Patience is a virtue.

    I wanted this watch so badly when it came out…amazing, useful combination of complications with the added durability and water resistance Rolex is known for! Unfortunately, it was offered at a price point and in a material that just didn’t seem suitable for its “tool” watch, utilitarian capabilities (if that’s possible for a fluted gold bezel Rolex).

    As a frequent traveller, two time zones with independent hour hand are musts and a calendar is icing on the cake. An ANNUAL calendar is the cherry on top of the icing!

    Bravo, Rolex and thanks for making the GMT subdial circle the same color as the rest of the dial and offering luminous stick markers https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/450c4f042f400ac267d3685fc0b88083c7c110ce9af5ce64c6748998d06d5ce3.png . I’m going to be that geek that pops into the AD every month with “Didja get it yet? Didja get it yet?”

    Now which one? Blue or black????

    • Shinytoys

      go blue…

  • Word Merchant

    I’ve got one of the original white gold ones and, although I prefer the Roman numerals to the stick hour markings, I am kicking myself slightly because I can now get something that looks very similar to mine and acts identically, for around a third of the price.

    I know the Sky Dweller isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it is a truly stunning watch in the flesh, and the clever and smooth control bezel is a joy to use when setting the watch. The only ergonomic downside is that the March indicator does get somewhat eclipsed by the cyclops. It has kept time and worked flawlessly over the three years I’ve had it. I’d still take it over any Patek any day.

    This will do very well for Rolex, and it’s a very interesting release.

  • SuperStrapper

    All white metal with bracelet and blue dial is probably Rolex’s best attempt at making me a customer. I’m surprisingly turned off by the red date indication. There’s no reason for that to be so conspicuous. It’s a slow-use complication, merely changing it from white to the blue dial colour would make it evident enough to be useful without the need to be so flashy about it. I make the same argument for the frame about the 2nd time indicator.

    Otherwise actually a great watch.

  • Willy Chu

    Only thing I would change is to make all the apertures that are not the current month be the same color as the dial, just like the original. Maybe they were trying to make the white batons look longer, but seems disjointed.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    It’s spooky that pics don’t download anymore

    • Word Merchant

      Have you tried turning it off and on again?

      • Chaz

        Thanks Roy….and/or Moss… 😉

  • Geraldo123

    I wonder which dial color will become the most popular?

    • michal

      Surely blue- there was same question asked on the rolexforum, and the answer was also- blue

  • Yanko

    No need for lengthy writing. Plain ugly.

  • Mischa

    Still a bit too flashy, still too much gold, to really be a great travel companion.

    Besides that though, it’s a stunning watch, and I really want one! What an amazing set of complications, without affecting legibility in any way.

  • MediumRB

    Grail: Identified.

  • BNABOD

    At first I say sure yes why not, a blue one please but then in some sort of strange way I still loot at it and feel that it is a bit dated.maybe it is the fluted bezel but I would not drop that kind of dough on a “not sure” . saw what I suspect is the older model in a plethora of ADs both in London and Geneva this past week and it looks better in real life but still not my cuppa.

  • mtnsicl

    Do I see glue or something around the edge of the cyclops?

    • proudAmerican702

      On my computer it looks like cloth fuzz, probably from someone giving it a good buffing before the photo shoot.

      • mtnsicl

        Damn that Ariel, buffing the cyclops again!

    • Oh_Oh_SarCastro

      Probably dirt from finger prints, Those watches get passed around quite a lot at Baselworld Wiping it with a cloth always leaves residue at the top and bottom of the cyclops. If you want the cyclops cleaned properly you really need warm water and soap.

  • One can always rely on Rolex to take a classic (read meh) design and make it impressively uglier. Bravo!

    • Thomas H

      Stick with Patek.

  • 500lbman

    I wish the second time zone ring was in a contrasting color like white. Other than that, this is a total winner. I will have one!

  • Chris

    So about 5 more years then for the full steel version I really want to buy then I guess. I really do like the new baton indices compared to the Arabic ones. Makes for a much better watch. If I had the funds I would pick up the white-gold/steel two-toned (not entirely accurate with steel and white gold, but whatever) in a heartbeat. But I can also wait for the inevitable steel model which is more likely to interest the collectible market in the future for a low numbered one.

  • Nnamdi Franks

    There’s a watch Company called VYRENT.com that allows you to rent Luxury Timepieces for Days or Monthly! And you can switch watches every month Starting as low as $199/Month!

  • proudAmerican702

    I’m always astonished by the cheap 3-link bracelets that Rolex uses. At Rolex prices, you should get a much robust 5-link (or more) bracelet that has more heft, luxury, and movement/comfort to it. p.s.–I’m not talking about the Jubilee.

    • Thomas H

      Astonished. Really?

  • Chris

    I think the baton indices are a game-changer for the look of the watch. Just hope we don’t have a ten year wait for full stainless.