Bavarian born watchmaker Hans Wilsdorf established the company Wilsdorf & Davis in the early 20th Century. This extraordinary atelier began his career making pocket watches in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. His dream was to produce a wristwatch that was durable, precise and waterproof. These qualities are largely taken for granted today but a hundred years ago this was a significantly ambitious project.
In 1908 the brand name Rolex was established in London, England. The primary objective of the name was to be pleasant sounding and easily pronounced in any language. Within a decade Hans Wilsdorf relocated to Geneva, Switzerland a place widely considered as the heart of fine watchmaking. By 1926 his diligence and extensive research culminated in the invention of the sensational Rolex Oyster. This incredible creation boasted the title of being the world’s first waterproof wristwatch. Numerous other innovations followed including the production of the sublime Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller.
On first impressions I was struck by how glorious the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller appeared. The timepiece has a diameter of 42mm that is relatively small by present standards. It sat very easily on my wrist and there was no protrusion from the lugs. Like most of the company’s watches the design has been well conceived to ensure optimum comfort levels. Realistically this is a timepiece that will appeal to a broad demographic and could be worn for most occasions. I can really envisage a piece of this magnitude being adorned for a formal party under a dinner suit. Essentially Rolex watches are highly aspirational and the ultimate status symbol. Legendary tennis player Roger Federer personally sports this timepiece as part of his multi-million dollar sponsorship deal.
Aesthetically the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller is a beautiful looking watch. The perfectly sculpted case is constructed from 18-carat white gold. This gives the piece an elevated air of opulence and refinement. The distinctive fluted edge of the bezel exudes elegance and is clearly characteristic of the brand. I love the layout of the dial which is exceptionally sophisticated. The bold roman numerals compliment the central time disc displaying the second zone. Other notable features include the 12 discreet apertures around the circumference of the dial indicating the months of the year by contrasting colour. This model also includes delicate open worked hour, minute hands and the highly recognisable Cyclops date window.
Positioned under the robust exterior of the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller is one of the most complex mechanisms the company has ever devised. The Calibre 9001 is an exceptionally intricate movement protected by 14 patents. Rolex have entirely developed and manufactured the mechanical marvel in house. This is a certified self -winding (COSC) chronometer with an impressive power reserve of 72 hours. Functionally the timepiece features hours, minutes, seconds, 24-hour display and second time zone. There is also an amazing rotating ‘Ring Command bezel allowing the recipient a quick and easy way of adjusting the settings. Ingeniously the watch has the facility to automatically differentiate between the 30-day and 31-day months with the exception of February.
The phenomenal Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller is waterproof to a tolerance of 100 m (330 feet) and is also available in a choice of either yellow or everose gold. Priced for the connoisseur at: $48,850.