In 2017 I found quietude hiking the Kumano Kodo, a breathtaking network of Unesco World Heritage designated pilgrimage trails in the cultural and historical heart of Japan. These trails take you through forested mountain passes, picturesque villages with hot springs, over rivers and streams of the southern Kansai region, which includes the prefectures of Nara, Kyoto, and Osaka. These “old ways” have been traversed by emperors, Shinto pilgrims, and nature lovers for over 1000 years. While there are many traditional ryokan (inns) en route, it was the private home-stays that brought me the most joy and where I tasted food more worthy of Michelin Stars than some of the most awarded restaurants I’ve experienced around the world.
Long overdue, I’d planned to return to Japan this year but, as with many of our readers, all international travel has sadly been put on hold. The plus side of this pause is that I’ve had time to better prepare myself for an extended adventure in 2021 — fingers crossed — and maybe even secure some Olympic event tickets, should that go ahead. For now, I’ve got the kawaii Duolingo parrot keeping me on my toes every day with my Japanese language lessons and I closely monitor the time in Tokyo on the wearable I’m currently test driving so that I can converse with my friends on the other side of the globe.
After a long wait, Rolex finally revealed its novelties for the year, which include a new-generation Submariner and this 18kt yellow-gold Sky-Dweller, which receives a sporting update for 2020 with Rolex’s patented high-performance elastomer Oysterflex bracelet. The Sky-Dweller, with its off-centre second time zone display, is the manufacture’s most complicated timepiece and is the perfect watch to keep tabs while you dream about your escape to an exotic location.
First launched on an Everose-gold Yacht-Master at Baselworld in 2015, being a Rolex product, the Oysterflex is no ordinary rubber strap and is therefore more appropriately referred to as a bracelet. Highlighting its status, Rolex only pairs the Oysterflex with precious metals, as seen in the Yacht-Master and white gold Daytona (2017), but the Sky-Dweller is the first of its more “classic” watches to receive the update. A bit like a radial-ply tyre, the Oysterflex bracelet is made up of flexible metal blades made from a titanium and nickel alloy. The blades are then over-moulded with high-performance black elastomer, a very durable material that is resistant to environmental effects. The bracelet is lined on the inside with longitudinal cushions for extra comfort and has a folding Oysterclasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system for quick and easy adjustments.
Driving the dual time and annual calendar is the calibre 9001 movement, which debuted with the Sky-Dweller in 2012. This automatic in-house movement features a blue Parachrom hairspring and offers a 72-hour power reserve for when you take it off and settle into your holiday destination.
The Sky-Dweller, with its 42mm Oyster case in yellow gold, features a bright black, sun-ray dial with hands and hour markers in 18kt yellow gold. It is also available in Everose-gold models with either chocolate or a white dial. The Sky-Dweller features the Ring Command system, which is used as an interface between its familiar fluted rotatable bezel, Twinlock winding crown, and movement to select and set the watch’s functions one by one. The annual calendar automatically differentiates between 30- and 31-day months, displayed under a Cyclops lens at 3 o’clock. The instantaneous date change is linked to the local time. The current month of the year is indicated in red in one of the 12 apertures set in the chapter ring of the dial. The hands and hour markers are also coated with Chromalight for luminescence.
Like all Rolex watches, the Sky-Dweller carries the Superlative Chronometer certification, which applies to fully assembled watches and guarantees that the watch is waterproof to a depth of 100m, with precision of −2/+2 seconds per day, or more than twice that required of the official Cosc chronometer certification.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller yellow gold on Oysterflex bracelet, R570,800, and in Everose, R591,800.
• For more info call Rolex Watch Company SA 011 784 9230 or visit rolex.com