Baselworld 2012: Rolex Introduces the Sky-Dweller

The brand's first annual calendar with GMT.

Finally the Rolex Sky-Dweller is revealed at Baselworld 2012, a few days after the teaser on the Rolex website. The Sky-Dweller is an Oyster Perpetual with Rolex’s patented SAROS annual calendar, second time zone and a clever bezel function selection known as “Ring Command”.

Initial thoughts

Reaction to the design of the watch has been mixed. At first glance, it looks too complex and gaudy, but the movement is truly clever, and the design is well, classic Rolex taken into the 21st century. I don’t love it but I quite like it. I’m sure everyone’s just waiting for a sports version of this.

An all-new movement

And now the details: the ingenious annual calendar – requiring adjustment once a year at the end of February – comprises only two gear ratios and four wheels added to the traditional Rolex date mechanism.

It is named after the astronomical phenomenom Saros, which is the “approximately 18-year cycle of alignment patterns between the Sun, the Earth and the Moon that is behind lunar and solar eclipses”.

That’s because it inspired the layout of the annual calendar: a fixed planetary gear (the Sun) linked to a satellite wheel (the Earth) which has four fingers (the Moon) for each of the 30 days months.

In addition the date change is instantaneous, like all Rolex day and date mechanisms. So on the months with 30 days, the date jumps from 30 to 31 then 1 in a blink of an eye. And the annual calendar also indicates the month in the windows adjacent to the Roman numeral hour indices. The blacked out window indicates the current month.

The date indicated is 30 March, as the IIII window is black

The local time is read off the main hands, while the second time zone or home time is indicated by the 24-hour ring on the dial. Conveniently the hour hand can be set backwards or forwards in one hour increments, without affecting the time setting of the minute and seconds hands. And the date is synchronised with the local time shown on the main hands.

All of those functions can be set via crown, which only has one setting position, thanks to the Ring Command bezel. The bezel can be rotated into any of three positions to set the date, local time or second time zone. This appears to be a fairly complicated mechanism with 60 parts, with the heart being two cams that engage the respective mechanisms for setting.

The Sky-Dweller uses the new COSC-certified, automatic cal. 9001. It has 380 components and a power reserve of 72 hours.

All the trademark Rolex movement features centred on chronometry are present – Parachrom hairspring, adjustable Microstella mass balance, Breguet overcoil, full balance bridge and Paraflex shock absorbers.

The Sky-Dweller case diameter is a large 42 mm. It’s available in white gold with silver dial (ref. 326939), yellow gold with champagne dial (ref. 326938), or Rolex’s patented oxidisation-proof Everose gold with chocolate dial (ref. 326935). The Everose is only available on a leather strap with a folding clasp.


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