|Case||Oyster, 42mm, 904L Oystersteel and white gold|
|Crown||Screw down, triple lock Twinlock waterproofness system|
|Bezel||Fluted, bidirectional rotatable with ‘Ring Command’|
|Movement||Perpetual, mechanical, self winding Calibre 9001|
|Crystal||Scratch resistant sapphire, Cyclops lens (2.5x) over date|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 100m / 330 ft|
|Power Reserve||Approximately 72 hours|
|Functions||Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. 24 hour display. Second time-zone. Instantaneous annual calendar. Stop seconds for precise time setting.|
|Bracelet||Oyster, flat three-piece links, with folding Oysterlock safety clasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system (5mm)|
Rolex is one of those brands that rarely makes a mistake. Additionally, instead of launching multiple models, it hones the ones it already has until they are nigh on perfect; in terms of looks, reliability and functionality. But it was missing a truly useful complication. The Daytona is, of course, a legendary chronograph, but how many people who own watches with this function actually use it? The Day-Date is iconic as the first automatic watch to display the date and day, in full, on its face, whilst the GMT-Master II does have a time-zone function but, across the watch world, or perhaps amongst ‘watch-snobs’, these functions are only regarded as a minor complications.
With the Skydweller therefore, in my view Rolex has finally produced a watch that ticks that box. It is complicated and no one can say otherwise.
Firstly, it can display two time-zones independently and simultaneously. The wearer’s local time (where they are travelling to) is read by the centred hands, indicating hours, minutes and seconds. These are set independently of any other function, meaning accuracy is preserved. The date, beneath the cyclops lens, is linked to the local time and changes almost instantaneously at midnight.
It is the time at their normal place of residence that should be displayed by the off-centred, rotating disc behind them, with a red triangle located at 12 o’clock just above the disc, which indicates the chosen reference time. AM and PM are clearly indicated in 24 hours.
All of that sounds rather, well, standard. But it’s the next level of attention to detail that sets the Skydweller out as a truly complicated watch. Firstly, it displays the month; not by words or numbers, but by a red indicator that sits in between the bezel and the gold applied hour markers. These hour markers therefore not only indicate the hour but also the month; one for January, two for February and so on. As with other annual calendars it is programmed to recognise the alternating months of 30 and 31 days, although it will need to be moved on manually at the end of February, given the shortness of the month.
The clever part in my view is the incorporation of the bezel into the process of setting the watch. The first stage is to unscrew the crown and pull it out one step, which allows you to manually wind the watch. Pulling it out once more brings the time and date setting into play, which is ingeniously guided by the position in which the bezel is in.
Ensuring the bezel is twisted all the way to the right before pulling out the crown, it can then be twisted left to one of three settings. Three clicks to the left allows the resident time (the off-centred dial) to be set. Moving the bezel one click to the right then provides for the local hour to be adjusted, which also adjusts the date. Lastly, move the bezel right once again and you are able to set the month and date independently of the time; the date will rotate through the cyclops lens and, as you make your way through the year, the red indicator above the baton markers will jump from month to month.
Once you have completed setting the time, you should then push the bezel one click to the right and screw down the crown for waterproofness and to ensure no settings can be changed accidentally.
It is, once you learn it, a very intuitive system. Importantly it also provides an opportunity to feel the watch working and have more interaction with it, something missing from many other annual calendars which tend to incorporate pushers on the side of the case. I understand why manufacturers do that – to maintain a minimalist aesthetic and the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726a is a perfect example. However the Skydweller maintains that look but does so in a way that means you don’t have to carry around an implement to change your settings every time you want to do so. It’s brilliant.
On the wrist
Additionally you have the warmth, reflection and eye catching nature of gold (a fluted bezel on a Rolex means it is made out of precious metal) as well as 100m water resistance and that legendary Rolex robustness. Indeed the only thing I can find that might not be to everyone’s taste is the size; at 42mm it fits perfectly on my wrist but those who are perhaps more slight might struggle. Having said that, given its lugs do not overhang like, for example, an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, it probably still wears smaller than the Le Brassus legend.
In summary the Skydweller is possibly the most versatile timepiece on the market. Indeed put all these attributes together and you might just have the perfect everyday watch, never mind Rolex, ever made. Superb.
The Rolex Skydweller reference 326934, retails for £11,100, if you can get one through a dealer. Some are quoting 2-4 year waiting lists, whilst many have closed them. Otherwise if you want this watch you are likely to have to pay between 30-60% extra on the secondary market.