The Rolex Sky-Dweller: An Iconic Aviation Watch
The Rolex Sky-Dweller is a masterpiece of technical and aesthetic perfection. Making its debut in 2012, the Sky-Dweller was an entirely new watch not tied to any historic Rolex collection. It was the first completely new Rolex model since the Yacht-Master was launched in 1992.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller is an iconic aviation watch, characterised by many distinctive features. It was unveiled at the global Swiss trade show, Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Show, in 2012.
As well as being one of Rolex’s largest watches, it's also one of its most complicated in terms of functions that go beyond telling the time. The series has claimed 14 patents. Yet despite its complex mechanism, second-time zone and annual calendar, it's easy to use.
First Sky-Dweller Models
Rolex introduced three Sky-Dweller models when it launched the range. One was the Everose gold option, the brand's proprietary rose gold alloy. The Rolex Sky-Dweller rose gold timepiece featured a classic brown leather strap. The second was the Rolex Sky-Dweller yellow gold option, a luxurious model with a matching yellow gold Oyster bracelet. A white gold Sky-Dweller with a matching white gold Oyster bracelet was also released, completing the trio of the first models in the collection. They were all water-resistant to a depth of 100 metres.
Prior to the release of the Sky-Dweller, collectors anticipated it would be a more robust version of the GMT-Master. This was based on the premise that the Sea-Dweller was a more complex version of the Submariner.
However, the predictions were proved incorrect. With its traditional fluted bezel and a lack of additional pushers on the case, the Sky-Dweller was more in line with the Datejust and Day-Date.
Rolex Sky-Dweller Features
The innovative Rolex rotatable Ring Command bezel provides a 24-hour display for the second time zone. This off-centre sub-dial is a practical function for pilots and frequent travellers. It enables wearers to clearly distinguish between daytime and night-time when in the second time zone.
The rotatable bezel can be turned smoothly to different positions to select the date, local time and reference time in the sub-dial. This design allows a quick and easy adjustment with the winding crown.
The annual calendar in the Sky-Dweller is patented by Rolex and replicates the irregular occurrence of 30-day and 31-day months throughout the year. This innovation makes the wristwatch more user-friendly.
This sophisticated design is powered by the Rolex calibre 9001 self-winding mechanical movement, developed by the brand in 2012. One of the more complicated Rolex movements, it ensures smooth interaction between the bezel and movement of the timepiece to set the different functions.
A scratch-proof sapphire crystal, along with the famous Cyclops date magnifying lens, complete the stylish dial. The Sky-Dweller’s appeal was universal. Its functionality placed it firmly in the sports collection, while its precious metal casings and minimalist profile placed it with the luxury dress watches too.
Rolex Sky-Dweller Gold
Three additional Rolex Sky-Dweller gold models joined the collection two years after the initial release. Baselworld 2014 was the launchpad for the new designs, just as the first three had been unveiled at the Swiss show in 2012. The three new models were also created in 18-carat gold.
They comprised a white gold Rolex Sky-Dweller, a yellow gold Sky-Dweller and an Everose gold Sky-Dweller. With the new models, Rolex offered each shade of gold with the option of a matching gold bracelet, or a leather strap.
New dial design options were also created in a variety of colours, with the additional choice of Arabic numeral or Roman numeral hour markers.
Stainless Steel Sky-Dweller
At Baselworld 2017, the brand surprised collectors by releasing steel and two-tone Rolex Sky-Dweller models. Considering the Sky-Dweller was originally offered exclusively in 18-carat gold, combined with its complications, this had made it one of Rolex's costliest collections. The steel version was considerably less expensive.
The first of the new models was the two-tone Sky-Dweller in stainless steel and yellow gold, known as the Yellow Rolesor. The stainless steel case was complemented by a yellow gold fluted bezel and winding crown. The Oyster bracelet had steel exterior links and yellow gold centre links.
The second new option was called the Rolex White Rolesor. This unusual stainless steel Sky-Dweller had a white gold fluted bezel. Due to its limited use of gold, it was the most affordable model among the whole collection.
Aside from the new materials, the other details remained the same, such as the Twinlock winding crown, 42 mm Oyster case, 100-metre water resistance, annual calendar, Calibre 9001 movement and dual time functionality.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller as an Investment
Today, stainless steel Sky-Dweller watches are highly sought-after. In particular, the White Rolesor Sky-Dweller model in steel and white gold, with a bright blue dial and Oyster bracelet, has become particularly collectable.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller blue models, ref 326934-0003 and M326934-0004 are increasingly collectable. The latter is a particularly distinctive watch, thanks to its vivid blue dial and classic Jubilee bracelet.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller black dial model is also much sought-after. One of the newer models, crafted from 18-carat yellow gold, it was the first watch from the "Classic" category to be fitted with a stunning black strap crafted from high-performance elastomer.
The bold black dial has a sunray finish, with hands and hour markers in 18-carat yellow gold. The way light reflects on the sides of the case highlights the refined profile of the 42 mm Oyster case. It is equipped with a fluted, rotatable bezel that is unique to the Sky-Dweller.
Two models of the Rolex Sky-Dweller have been discontinued: the white gold ref 326939 with a white gold bracelet was in production from 2012 to 2018 and the white gold ref 326139 with a leather bracelet was in production from 2014 to 2018. Both of these models are highly collectable now if you can pick one up pre-owned.
Another factor that drives the prices of luxury watches is whether they are popular among celebrity wearers. The Rolex Sky-Dweller has been spotted gracing the wrists of numerous famous sportspeople. For instance, NBA superstar LeBron James has an all-gold Sky-Dweller, while UFC champion Conor McGregor also loves the model.
Rolex Sky-Dweller Prices
As with every Rolex collection, the price of each watch depends on the individual model. For a gold Sky-Dweller model you can expect to pay between £30,000 and £65,000 depending on the type of bracelet and its condition. For example, the Sky-Dweller ref 326139 in white gold on a leather strap fetches approximately £30,000 whereas the ref, 326935 everose gold on an Oyster bracelet commands approximately £65,000.
The two-tone Sky-Dweller watches, also known as rolesor watches, are considered the entry level models and can normally be purchased on the pre-owned watch market from approximately £22,500 in yellow gold and stainless steel. The Rolex Sky-Dweller with blue dial in stainless steel and white gold is particularly popular and prices are more in the region of £32,000.
If you spot a Rolex Sky-Dweller for sale, it can be difficult to know if you're paying over the odds if it's a private sale. It can also be challenging to spot whether it's authentic unless you're a Rolex watch expert.
A sensible option is to purchase from a pre-owned watch specialist, such as WatchCentre on New Bond Street, London. We specialise in buying and selling pre-owned Rolex watches and can guarantee all of our timepieces are authentic and in good condition.
All of our pre-owned watches are subject to a set of stringent quality checks by our trained personnel. Each watch we sell comes with our guarantee of authenticity.