Nearly ten years have passed since Rolex debuted the Sky Dweller to the watch world in 2012. At the time it could have been seen as a big gamble for a brand known for releasing all-new watches about as quickly as glacial advances. Rolex is not staffed with fools, which is why they kicked things off back then with precious metals only. The Sky Dweller became the travel watch for those too glamourous to show up with a GMT-Master II (which was still relatively attainable at the time). Early adopters of the Sky Dweller reveled in exclusivity knowing that theirs might be one-of-one in the airport terminal at any given time, and those who couldn’t make the stretch financially were left to rubber-neck each time they saw one.
As they say, fame is fleeting, and the true smash hits of the Sky Dweller line this decade have been the later-released steel versions—the reference 326934 in white, blue, and black dials. Rolex will quickly point out that they are, in-fact, steel and white gold “Rolesor” models as the fluted bezel is made of white gold. Special attention should be given to this bezel as it isn’t just for show. This is Rolex’s patented Ring Command bezel, which performs a plethora of tasks depending on the position of the crown. Between the talented bezel and crown, the Sky Dweller offers an annual calendar combined with a centrally located (albeit slightly uncentred) GMT disc in the dial.
At retail prices of less than half of their precious metal brothers, the steel Sky Dweller family quickly became relative unobtainium at Rolex dealers. With blue, black and white dials available, the steel Sky Dwellers appealed to well-heeled (but fiscally responsible) travelers everywhere. At 42mm in diameter, it is one of the larger Rolex sport watches available. That said, in spite of the complications on offer, there isn’t nearly as much bulk as the Sea Dweller or even Explorer II so the Sky Dweller easily transfers from airport lounge to boardroom without missing a beat.
Speaking of beating, inside the Sky Dweller’s stainless-steel heart is the Rolex caliber 9001, which in number alone is the coolest Rolex movement to come along in awhile. With 100 meters of water resistance and COSC certification, the Sky Dweller nails the basic Rolex credentials while adding complications that buyers previously had to look to AP or Patek for. The annual calendar is sophisticated enough to differentiate between thirty and thirty-one day months therefore requiring only once-per-year adjustment if worn continuously.
The asymmetrical placement of the GMT wheel on the dial betrays a rare Rolex moment of slightly fun indiscretion during the design process, and the rest of the dial displays the myriad of functionality as cleanly as possible. The Sky Dweller has plenty of Datejust visual family ties and could be mistaken by non-enthusiasts for a larger model Datejust from outside of ten feet. In addition to the fluted bezel, this family bond is exacerbated by the use of a solid looking (and feeling) Oyster bracelet. With characteristic contrasting polished and brushed links, the Oyster bracelet goes a long way in contributing to the overall high-end look of the watch. It also remains one of the best built and secure feeling bracelets on the market in any material at any price.
Being ten years old means a watch is still in relative infancy by Rolex standards, however what a high tech, high functioning infant this is. From the month indicators nestled at the ends of the luminous hour batons to the immensely satisfying click action of the bezel, the Sky Dweller justifies its price and then some. Once you add in the blue-chip resale that being a sporty Rolex imparts, there really is little reason left to rule out a stainless-steel Sky Dweller.