The Rolex Sky-Dweller – Finding Simplicity in Complexity
Watch & Bullion27 July 2016 | 2 min read
Rolex prides itself in its simplicity. Their fame is built on their classical style which at its core has remained unchanged since the 1950s.
So a new release from Rolex is always an event. A new complicated release from Rolex is an even bigger event. The reason being that with any new product Rolex has to think how it might impact their existing range. Recently ranked as the worlds most reputable brand, a new product demands full confidence.
Released in 2012 the Sky-Dweller has taken on those expectations and has since found its own niche in the lineup. Made out of solid gold this is no sports model, yet the functionality of the annual calendar complication and second time zone prevents it from being a jewelry piece either. The Sky-Dweller seems to have kindled up next to the likes of the Yacht-Master II, a strong wrist presence and unique complication placing it into a league of its own.
The movement is the clear highlight of the Sky-Dweller, making it the most complicated contemporary Rolex on the market. The annual calendar adds the Rolex typical practicality, requiring you to only set the watch once in February.
The vision of simplicity has been explored deeply, where rather than being set by different positions on the crown Rolex decided to implement what they call the Ring Command. With this feature you can move the beautifully fluted bezel to one of three positions. For each position the function of the crown changes allowing you to either set the date, local time, or reference time.
This has been achieved through the brand new calibre 9001, the Ring Command feature alone already demanding 60 individual parts. The annual calendar feature is based on what astronomers lovingly refer to as the SAROS system. An 18th century greek term that describes a fixed gear in the middle of the watch, around which two further gears rotate similar to how the moon and earth rotate around the sun.
The result is a watch which while highly complicated remains legible and clear cut in its design language. The aforementioned simplicity which Rolex prides itself in has been retained by refraining from relying on sub-dials and instead indicating the month through little windows outside each hour marker.
The Sky-Dweller is a complicated watch, and an even more complicated one to understand. An unorthodox piece, it has managed to maintain the DNA of the brand by fusing high horology with simplicity and functionality.