Rolex Sky-Dweller 326933
The Ring Command. Caliber 9001. The Sky-Dweller. Could be vintage copy for a 1950s space adventure, but it's not. It is in fact a partial description of the most complicated watch Rolex has presented in fifty-odd years. The Sky-Dweller caught everyone by surprise at the 2012 Baselworld Fair and started conversations and debates that ran for months. In 2012 and 2014 they were exclusively available in white, yellow or Everose gold (Rolex's patented rose gold alloy) so when the steel ref. 326934s and the two-tone steel and gold ref. 326933s landed at Baselworld 2017 there were a lot of enthused Rolex "guys." Identical to the gold models the steel and two-tone pieces are every bit Sky-Dweller, with two simple changes - they have slightly longer hands and the hour markers are batons as opposed to the applied Arabic and Roman numeral options on the precious metal pieces. Regardless of the configuration the 42mm Sky-Dweller is an animal unto itself - an Annual Calendar/GMT. While Rolex was known for complicated chronographs and calendar watches from the 1930s - 1950s production since then has focused on tool watches and simple luxury pieces, so this is new and exciting. A watch that displays the date, month and a second timezone via a 24-scale is something special. The Sky-Dweller of course isn't the only watch with this complication, for instance Blancpain and Patek Philippe have similar pieces, but it's the only one that looks like it would survive a fall down a set of seventeen concrete stairs. The polished Oyster case is thick but the lines are beautiful and when you hear how innovative the movement and functionality are the brawniness becomes absolutely appropriate. The Sky-Dweller is perhaps the most aspirational traveler's watch available today because Rolex has gone through extraordinary measures to develop and patent a brand new automatic caliber, the 9001, to make this watch as simple as 1-2-3, literally. Unscrew and pull out the crown, turn the fluted Ring Command bezel counterclockwise once and use the crown to quickset the date and by extension the month, which is ingeniously indicated in unassuming apertures behind the numerals on the dial; turn the bezel a second time to the left to set local time on the hour and minute hand (where you're traveling to); turn it a third time to set the reference time (where you live or traveled from) which will be displayed on the 24-Hour disc; reset the bezel three clicks to the right, push in the crown, screw it down and everything is in sync. This watch is a clandestine services novel come to life, you'll feel like The Saint every time you travel. Mechanics aside, the dial is the outward star of any Sky-Dweller and the highlight of this two-tone steel and yellow gold (Rolesor) ref. 326933 comes in the way of contrast. The base is a gorgeous black velvety sunburst finish dramatized by white text and a small sea of yellow gold via the crown at 12, the hands and Chromalight lume filled hour markers. On the first six precious metal references the fearless 24-hour ring was in a contrasting color to the dial but Rolex refashioned it for the steel and two-tone versions. The dials are now similar in color but cleverly rendered in different finishes, which is quite striking on this 326933 - the ring is a deep black shiny satin piece that completely breaks the linear features of the starburst. The inverted red triangle remains a nice pop of color. This 326933 is a standout and people have been on one foot and then the other waiting for delivery since it was announced. On a two-tone steel and yellow gold Oyster bracelet it feels like a proper tool watch but with polished center links it suggests luxury in equal respect. As the name sort of suggests, the Sky-Dweller favors the bold, which is appropriate. No other manufacturer is so intrepid, and none have thought through the traveler's watch to this degree. Timepieces shouldn't be purchased to make a statement but it's highly likely that as you set this watch while you deplane, glances will be cast and more than one stranger will secretly wonder who you are and how you spend your time. And there's nothing wrong with that.