The first time Rolex made a wristwatch inspired by aviation was back in 1955 when it created the GMT Master, a dual timezone watch which was designed during preparations for the first successful flight of an intercontinental jet passenger aircraft by a Pan American Airlines Boeing 707.
The relatively simple expedient of combining an additional 24-hour hand and a rotatable bezel made the watch capable of showing the hour in two different time zones which, it was hoped, would assist in keeping Pan-Am’s pilots on their toes when faced with the then-new phenomenon of jet lag brought about by the unusually fast transition from one side of the Atlantic to the other.
The GMT Master remains one of the most effective and popular traveller’s watches ever made - but now Rolex has introduced a new dual time model called the Sky-Dweller which features a fiendishly clever mechanism in which the rotating bezel is used to select individual functions (home time, local time, winding and date) which can then be set simply by turning the crown.
This so-called ‘Ring Command’ bezel first appeared a few years ago on the brand’s Yacht-Master II regatta watch but, in adapting the mechanism to the Sky-dweller, it has also been linked to a rather brilliant annual calendar function which requires adjustment only once a year, at the end of February.
Like all non-bejewelled Rolex models, the new Sky-Dweller is a beautifully engineered exercise in form and function, with a display that is clear and concise. It carries no fewer than 14 patents and is designed to be simple and intuitive to use as well as being rugged, reliable and, of course, effortlessly elegant.
We imagine, therefore, that when they board an aircraft, most wearers will instinctively turn left...
The 42 mm Sky-Dweller is available in 18 carat white, yellow or Everose gold from £26,290.