Rolex Sky-Dweller or Submariner: Which one is the Best?

There are quite a few distinct features that differentiate the Rolex Sky-Dweller from the Submariner, and we're not just talking about a massive price difference.

To begin, the biggest difference between these two Rolex watches is special functions. The Rolex Submariner is a diver watch while the Rolex Sky-Dweller is a world traveler watch with special features that make bouncing around from one time zone to another easier. But that's just the beginning.

The Sky-Dweller has an interesting feature in its bezel which is unique to this particular collection of Rolex watches and it's used for setting the watch and to make quick corrections to the time, the dual time zone feature and the annual calendar. A remarkably innovative way to make these changes which are normally done via the crown or pushers on most mechanical watches.

The Submariner, on the other hand, has significantly better water resistance compared to the Sky-Dweller and is built solid and tough enough for daily wear which is why the Submariner (affectionately known as the 'Sub') is such a staple for many collectors and one of the most popular of Rolex watches ever made. 

Sky-Dweller VS Submariner

Rolex Sky-Dweller VS Submariner

Rolex Sky-Dweller 42mm Features


  • Case:
    • Polished 18kt 42mm white gold case.
    • Polished 18kt white gold fluted bezel ring.
  • Crown:
    • Polished 18kt white gold "Twinlock" crown featuring two sealed zones when the crown is screwed down: the first inside the tube of the crown, the second inside the winding crown itself.
  • Bezel:
    • The bezel is key to setting the 3 functions of the watch (time, dual-time & annual calendar).
    • The "RING COMMAND BEZEL" features 3 positions with each position corresponding to a different function of the watch. 
    • Simply rotating the bezel to the position of the corresponding watch function will the correction of that particular function via the crown.
  • Bracelet & buckle features:
    • Brushed outer links & polished center links.
    • Oysterlock deployant clasp.
    • Fitted with the patented Easylink 5mm extension link.
  • Dial:
    • Black dial.
    • Applied polished white gold Arabic Numeral hour markers.
    • Fine printed minute/seconds track on the dial rim.
    • Polished finished.
    • Partially skeletonized minute & hour hands so not to obscure the dual time
    • Hour & minute hands with luminous filled tops.
  • Movement:
    • Rolex in-house caliber 9001, beats at 28,800 vph,  contains 40 Jewels & has an approximate power reserve of 72.
    • Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring.
    • High-performance Paraflex shock absorbers.
    • The watch boasts a total of 14 patents, seven of which are in the movement.
  • GMT/Dual Time-Zone:
    • Off-center silvered 24-hour ring.
    • Inverted red triangle indicating the additional time-zone.
    • Indicated in 24-hour mode to enable its wearer to easily distinguish between AM & PM at the additional time-zone location.
    • The date can be adjusted both forward & backward.
  • Saros Annual Calendar:
    • Date window displayed at the 3 o'clock position with a "cyclops" magnifier.
    • Month display via small apertures (windows) at each hour marker (12 hours/12 months). A deep red filled display window indicates the current month.
    • A manual correction is required only once a year on March 1st to compensate for the shorter 28 or 29 days of February.
    • Adjust in 1-hour increments, without stopping the watch allowing the dual time-zone to adjusted without interrupting the watch operation of the movement.

Rolex Submariner Date 40mm Features

  • Case:
    • Stainless steel 40mm case with polished finished edges and a brushed/satin finished top.
  • Crown:
    • Patented "Triplock" locking crown ensuring that the crown screws down onto the Oyster case as securely as a submarine hatch.
    • Polished yellow gold.
  • Bezel:
    • Uni-directional rotating bezel.
    • Polished yellow Rolesor (a combination of 904L steel and 18kt yellow gold) gold rimmed with a ribbed edge for a sure grip.
    • Blue "Cerachrom" bezel insert, made of highly durable ceramic that is extremely hard that is highly scratch-resistant, has excellent corrosion resistant properties & is unaffected by ultraviolet rays so the color will not fade.
    • Yellow gold numbers & graduation indexes.
    • Luminous dot
  • Bracelet:
    • Brushed stainless steel bracelet with polished edges & polished yellow gold center links.
    • Bracelet fitted the patented Glidelock Extension System buckle - a secure deployant style with adjustments in 2mm increments to a total of 20mm without the need of tools.
  • Dial:
    • Electric blue dial.
    • Date window displayed at the 3 o'clock position with a "cyclops" magnifier.
    • Applied yellow gold rimmed hour markers with luminescent fill.
    • Polished yellow gold hands with luminescent fill.
  • Movement:
    • This watch uses the Rolex in-house 3135 movement which is a self-winding/automatic movement. The caliber 3135 is a COSC certified Swiss chronometer and features a rock and temperature resistant Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring. 

Key Mechanical Differences between the Submariner and the Sky-Dweller:

  • Mechanical differences such as the special functions in the SD such as the GMT / Dual Time Zone featue.
  • The Sub has a date feature only whereas the SD has an annual calendar
  • The Ring Command Bezel is a unique feature of the Sky-Dweller that holds many patents for its innovation. 
  • The Water resistance in the Submariner is 300m/1000ft whereas the Sky-Dweller is on 100m/330ft.

Key Design Differences between the Submariner and the Sky-Dweller:

  • The Sky-Dweller has a fluted bezel whereas the Submariner doesn't.
  • The Submariner is only available on a bracelet whereas the Sky-Dweller is available on either a bracelet or a leather strap depending on the model.
  • The case material choices on the Submariner is limited whereas the Sky-Dweller offers more options such as 18kt Everose gold which is the Rolex proprietary version of pink gold / rose gold. 
Rolex Sky-Dweller Watch

At the end of the day, the deciding factor will probably come down to functions and price. You would have to gauge the personal value that these functions give you and see if the Submariner or Sky-Dweller is most likely to suit your lifestyle. Some people would just buy it because of the look itself. They look very different so it can be a personal style preference as well which determines which is for you. Feel free to browse the watches from these two collections using the links below.

Browse Sky-Dweller Watches

Browse Submariner Watches

rolex sub two-tone blue dial

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