Easily the biggest news in the 2014 Rolex catalogue update is the new generation of Submariner watches, in 41mm cases. But while Rolex’s iconic line of dive watches is stealing the most attention, there’s also the new Rolex Sky-Dweller, now equipped with the brand’s signature Oysterflex bracelet.
Featuring both an annual calendar complication and dual time zone display, the Sky-Dweller was positioned in the Rolex catalogue as the ultimate luxury travel watch. However, since the last solid gold model with a leather strap was discontinued a few years ago, the Oysterflex bracelet has been the only option for the collection. This limited the appeal of the Sky-Dweller among buyers who preferred to wear their watches on a strap rather than a metal bracelet; however, with the Oysterflex now an option, Rolex’s line of luxury travel watches has just broadened its appeal to a whole new group of buyers.
Released in 2012, the Sky-Dweller is Rolex’s most recent new offering. It is also the most complex piece in the brand’s contemporary collection (by a considerable margin). Inside the 42mm case, it’s stuffed with a date display, dual time zone indicator and the brand’s first ever annual calendar. Still, the first few years after the watch’s release were rather unsatisfying. In addition to being made only in solid 18-karat gold, the watch’s sales suffered because of its somewhat nondescript appearance (such as an off-center GMT disk chopping off the lower hour markers) and its correspondingly high price.
Of the first three models, the gold and white gold models had three-link oyster bracelets, while the Everose had a brown alligator strap. These models were joined by three more in 2014, which reversed the configuration of the first series, with the gold and white gold models fitted with leather straps, while the Everose model was available with an optional Oyster bracelet.
The Sky-Dweller is the first model in the Rolex Classic Collection to feature the brand’s Oysterflex bracelet, which at first glance you might describe as a rubber strap. However, nothing is that simple when it comes to the world’s top watchmakers.
This outer coating has a raised central section at the top to add good depth and texture, as well as a longitudinal cushion at the bottom that lifts the Elastomer off the skin, allowing air in and helping to keep the watch stable. In sort, the Oysterflex has the look and comfort of a rubber strap, and the durability of a metal bracelet. In addition, Rolex says that the Oysterflex bracelet fitted to the new Sky-Dweller will be equipped with the brand’s new Glidelock extension system, meaning that its length can be adjusted in 2.5mm increments for a total length of up to 15mm.
The Oysterflex bracelet made its debut in 2014, when it made its debut on the recently launched Everose Yacht-Master (40mm model 116655 and 37mm model 268655). Coupled with a new black Cerachrom bezel, it completely transformed the Rolex Sky-Dweller watches , bringing a delightfully informative and sporty avant-garde aesthetic to this somewhat traditional luxury watch.
Next up was the Daytona, which received the Oysterflex bracelet in 2014.The Oysterflex replaced the leather strap option on the solid gold Rolex Daytona, and it seems to have done the same for the Sky-Dweller. There are currently 16 different Oysterflex Daytona models in the Rolex catalog (including all dial and metal variations), and like the Sky-Dweller and Yacht-Master, the Oysterflex bracelet is only available for the solid gold models.