For several decades, Rolex has been making GMT watches of various types, starting with the GMT-Master. The Rolex Sky-Dweller launched in 2012, displays two time zones, but does that make it a true GMT watch?
What makes a GMT watch and what is simply dual time? Read on to find how where the Rolex Sky-Dweller stands and whether it matters in the end.
Dual Time vs GMT Watches
While they may seem incredibly similar, these terms – dual time and GMT – are two different things when it comes to timepieces.
Dual Time Watches
Rolex Cellini Dual Time (right)
The name says it all. Dual time watches are capable of displaying two time zones. They can do this in several ways. The second time can be shown on a 12-hour scale with an indication of AM or PM. The second time can also be displayed on a 24-hour scale where there’s no need for an AM or PM designation.
Rolex GMT-Master II watches have a GMT complication
Here’s the thing, GMT watches are dual time watches by definition, but you can’t say the same thing vice versa. Here’s why. A GMT watch uses a 24-hour scale for the display of a second time zone.
GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time, a time standard developed for aviation to help pilots track time in a standardized way across the globe. Eventually, this was adjusted to the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) used today.
The 24-hour scale meant that there was no confusion for pilots on whether it was AM or PM, they always knew briefly where they stood timewise.
Real GMT watches also have a 24-hour hand that will independently jump back and forth between the hours so you can set a new ‘local’ time with incredible ease.
Is the Rolex Sky-Dweller a GMT watch?
Rolex Sky-Dweller Steel White Gold Blue Dial 326934
So, this begs the question, is the Rolex Sky-Dweller a true GMT watch or a dual time watch? It’s a complicated answer despite the above.
Unlike many GMT watches, the Rolex Sky-Dweller uses a unique and independent dial within the watch face to track the second time zone. This is through a 24-hour disc, suggesting that it is indeed a GMT watch. However, there were two standards to qualify as a true GMT watch.
The second standard, if you recall is if the hand or hour indicator can be adjusted back and forth with ease. While the Rolex Sky-Dweller doesn’t have a 24-hour hand that will indicate the time in the second time zone, there’s a stationary arrow at the top of the disc to indicate the time. In this case, the disc itself can move back and forth by the hour to change the time and does this without changing the other hands on the watch dial.
This beautiful watch does indeed fit both criteria of being a true GMT watch. Therefore, yes, the Rolex Sky-Dweller is indeed a true GMT watch.
How to set the time on your Rolex Sky-Dweller
The Rolex Sky-Dweller may be one of Rolex’s most technical watches to operate. It’s worth it though when you consider the intelligent calendar and all the other advances that were included in the design. For instance, the sophisticated calendar only must be manually adjusted between February and March. Unlike other watches where you must advance the days manually after months with only 30 days, the Sky-Dweller tracks this on its own.
Unlike other Rolex watches, it’s not crown positions that control what you’re setting on the watch, it’s the bezel. Here’s how to set the time on your Rolex Sky-Dweller.
Positions of the bezel on a Rolex Sky-Dweller (photo: Rolex)
Instead of pulling out the crown, you’re going to rotate the fluted bezel on the watch counterclockwise. There are three positions.
This position is located between 10 and 11 o’clock. Turn the bezel counterclockwise (you start at 12 o’clock) and stop between 10 and 11. Here you can change the month and date setting.
This position is located between 9 and 10 o’clock. Turn the bezel from the starting point at 12 o’clock counterclockwise, stopping between 9 and 10. Here you can set the local time.
Third position is between 8 and 9 o’clock. Starting from 12 o’clock rotate the bezel counterclockwise to rest between 8 and 9. In this position, you can set the reference time on the inner dial.
Setting your reference time
Positions of the bezel and crown when setting the reference time (photo: Rolex)
You still must unscrew the crown of your watch to release the waterproofing safety lock. Pull the crown out to Position 2.
Turn your bezel all the way to position III between 8 and 9 o’clock. Remember to turn counterclockwise. This position will stop the second hand to allow you to set the time.
Set the hour on the 24-hour display dial. Use the crown to set the minutes as well.
Return the bezel back to 12 o’clock and return the crown to the original locked position.
Setting the local time
Positions of the bezel and crown when setting the local time (photo: Rolex)
Always set your reference time first. Unscrew the crown and pull it to position 2.
Using your bezel, rotate it counterclockwise to position II between 9 and 10 o’clock.
Using the crown, rotate the hour hand to reflect the correct hour. Note two things: the minute hand is set in the previous step, your hour hand only will jump in position II; check whether you’re in AM or PM by starting at 12 o’clock, if the date changes, you’re at midnight, if it doesn’t, you’re at noon.
Turn the bezel clockwise back to 12 o’clock.
Screw down the crown and make sure it’s locked.
Setting the month and date
Positions of the bezel and crown when setting the month and date (photo: Rolex)
You’ll only have the make this manual adjustment if your watch stops or from February to March. Position I of the bezel allows you to adjust the month via the red window on the outer edge of the dial (12 being December and 1 January and so on) and the date in the window.
Is the Rolex Sky-Dweller a GMT?
The Rolex Sky-Dweller is a true GMT watch. This stylish and technologically advanced timepiece would be a great addition to anyone’s wrist – but isn’t that the case with any Rolex watch?
Check out our vast selection of Rolex watches available at SwissWatchExpo.com and find the GMT watch you want on your wrist.