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Steel pulling in the crowd
THE Rolex Sky-Dweller, launched five years ago, still wowed the crowd when new versions of the timepiece were unveiled at this year's Baselworld watch fair in March. The annual calendar and two time zone timepiece drew the biggest attention at the fair in 2012 when it first appeared - and it's easy to understand why. The Sky-Dweller was the first entirely new watch from Rolex in over two decades. It was also the first truly complicated Rolex watch in more than a generation.
The thrill was still there but, perhaps, down a notch or two when Rolex presented three new variants to the Sky-Dweller lineup in 2014: one in matching rose gold case and bracelet with a sun-dust colour dial; another in white gold case with a black dial and black alligator strap; and the third in yellow gold case with silver and brown alligator strap.
There were also three models in the beginning: one in white gold case and bracelet with white dial; one in rose gold case and brown alligator strap with chocolate dial; and one in yellow gold case and bracelet with champagne dial.
Interest in the Sky- Dweller soared again this year at the Baselworld watch fair when Rolex unveiled stainless steel and steel-gold alternatives of the watch.
The Sky-Dweller remains Rolex's most complicated modern watch and the latest models are still technically the same as the earlier ones, with the same features.
The case stays large by Rolex's standard at 42mm but the hour, minute and second hands in the new models are longer. The indexes, previously in Roman or Arabic numerals, are now rectangular.
The biggest change, the one which got everyone excited, is that the all precious-metal timepiece has given way to a stainless steel and combination of gold and steel versions.
On one of the two new timepieces, the bezel, crown and centre bracelet links are made of yellow gold, while the middle case and outer links of the bracelet are steel. The other has only a white gold bezel; the case, crown and bracelet are steel. This model comes in three different coloured dials - blue, black and white.
Serious watch collectors have always been partial to steel timepieces, especially when it comes to Rolex. The most sought-after of its watches are those from Rolex's sports collections, in particular the Daytonas and the Submariners. Indeed, the more popular of the two new Sky-Dwellers is the one with more steel.
Of course, being not made of all-precious metal, it's also cheaper.
In fact, the revival in interest being shown to the latest models is not just because they are at least partially steel; it's also due to them being more accessible price-wise.
The steel and white-gold bezel Sky-Dweller, with a price tag of around S$19,000, is only one third the price of the first all-white-gold model - a bargain for a rare Rolex complicated timepiece.