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Rolex Sky-Dweller vs Rolex Daytona | Which is Best?

Rolex Sky-Dweller vs Rolex Daytona | Which is Best?

rolex daytona vs rolex sky-dweller, which is best

There are a lot of Rolex enthusiasts out there who are discussing whether the Sky-Dweller is going to take the Daytona’s place as the best selling timepiece. Moreover, people who are in the market for a new Rolex watch are wondering “Should I get a Rolex Sky-Dweller or Daytona?”…and most often, the stainless steel versions are the models in question. So, with all the questions and comparisons being made between the two on watch forums these days, we thought we’d come in and provide an in-depth comparison on the Rolex Sky-Dweller vs Rolex Daytona.

rolex daytona vs rolex sky-dweller, which is best?

Rolex Sky-Dweller vs Rolex Daytona

In this Rolex Sky-Dweller and Daytona comparison, we are going to match them up based on the following criteria:

  • Recognition & Prestige
  • Wrist Presence & Style
  • Complications & Usefulness 
  • Different Models & Versions
  • Comfort & Versatility
  • Price & Value

Recognition & Prestige

rolex daytona vs sky-dweller

Although the steel Rolex Sky-Dweller is one of the most talked about and highly coveted watches right now, it still doesn’t hold a candle to the steel Rolex Daytona

It will take quite a long time for the Sky-Dweller to reach or surpass the level of prestige that the Rolex Daytona has, if ever. The Rolex Daytona has been the most popular watch in the world for decades now, which is one of the reasons it is also the most counterfeited. 

In terms of recognition, the Rolex Daytona is immediately recognizable. For anyone who knows anything about watches, the recognition level is virtually 100%. The design is entirely unique to the Rolex Daytona and Rolex hasn’t altered its style, minus some small nuances and material changes, since its launch back in 1963. 

As for the Sky-Dweller, the same can’t be said. Due to the fluted bezel, it can appear like a Day-Date at first glance, even with it being significantly larger in case size. Moreover, the Sky-Dweller is a new model from Rolex, so a lot of causal watch fans still aren’t familiar with the line in general. That said, there’s no denying the Sky-Dweller’s originality. When you look at the dial, you can instantly see it’s uniqueness. There’s never been a Rolex watch like it before. It has a 24 hour off-center disc on a sunburst dial, among other special features. Furthermore, the watch is truly powerful in size when it’s on the wrist. 

rolex sky dweller vs rolex daytona

So, all in all, the Daytona wins for prestige and recognition by a long shot. However, who knows how the market will change in the next couple of decades. 

Wrist Presence & Style

rolex sky dweller or daytona

When it comes to wrist presence, we could easily consider recognition and prestige as a part of it. However, for this part of the comparison, let’s leave out popularity and iconicism.

The Sky-Dweller, in our opinion, provides a lot more wrist presence and a much more modern style.

The main reason we believe the wrist presence is greater is due to the sheer size of the Sky-Dweller.  The Sky-Dweller is 42mm while the Daytona is only 40mm. Moreover, the Sky-Dweller wears far larger due to the structure of the lugs. 

So, for those who have larger wrists, the Sky-Dweller will offer more wrist presence. 

best timepieces

Now, in terms of style and how that affects wrist presence, the Daytona and the Sky-Dweller have their own special style. So, it really is subjective for what style offers more wrist presence. 

What we can say is, the Sky-Dweller’s big fluted bezel throws a lot more light (aka “bling”) in bright settings, and it has a sunburst dial (again, “bling” factor). What’s more, the Sky-Dweller just feels more contemporary…because it is!

So, if we are talking size, and “flamboyant” and “striking” qualities, we give the Sky-Dweller the upper hand in regards to wrist presence. 

Essentially, the Daytona offers a lot of wrist presence in that it is such a recognizable model that is very well-respected. However, with all prestige aside, the Sky-Dweller is much more noticeable as it has more POP in both size and style. 

Complications & Usefulness

is the rolex daytona worth it

Let’s first run through the complications on both the Rolex Daytona and Rolex Sky-Dweller, then we will determine which is more useful for the general population, and which is more useful for specific purposes/jobs/etc. 

Rolex Daytona’s Complications & Functions

The Rolex Daytona is a chronograph watch made for race car drivers, but that doesn’t mean only race car drivers will find it useful. However, it is definitely most useful for those involved in racing as you are about to see why.

Being a chronograph watch, it has a stopwatch function as its main complication. That said, it is more than just a stopwatch thanks to its tachymetric bezel, which allows for measurements of speed based on time traveled over a fixed distance. This enables drivers (or whoever else may find this functionality useful), the ability to convert elapsed time in units per second to speed in units per hour…

So, clearly it makes sense that the functionality of the Daytona is most useful for race car drivers. After all, that is who the watch was designed for. 

Rolex Daytona’s 3 Sub-Dials:

The three sub-dials on a Rolex Daytona’s dial consist of normal continuous seconds (not the chronograph seconds), chronograph elapsed minutes up to 30 mins, and chronograph elapsed hours up to 12 hours. 

Note: The large seconds hand is for the chronograph seconds, not the normal continuous seconds of the current time. 

FAQ About Rolex Daytona Watches

So, to sum it up, the Rolex Daytona has one complication, a chronograph (stopwatch). And its function is to convert elapsed time into units per hour – To use this function, you control the chronograph with the crown and the pushers, and you look to the tachymetric bezel and the large seconds hand to record the data.

most useful timepieces
Rolex Sky-Dweller Complications & Functions

The Rolex Sky-Dweller is one of Rolex’s most complicated watches ever made. It has three complications. 

A Dual Time Zone “GMT” complication, which allows the watch to display time in two time zones simultaneously – the main dial and the off-centered 24 hour disc above the 6 o’clock. Both time zones can be set independently forwards or backward in one hour leaps. Moreover, it is a true GMT complication in that the hour hand is set from the crown and can be re-set rapidly to a new timezone without interrupting the watch’s current time. It’s super easy to use.

Its second complication is an Annual Calendar. As there are twelve months in the year, and a watch has twelve hour markers on it, Rolex decided to display the month beside each hour marker. So, if the month is January, the square above the 1 o’clock hour baton will be red. February, the square above the 2 o’clock baton will be red. And so on…

Lastly, the Sky-Dweller has a rotatable Ring Command Bezel, which is essentially its third complication. The Ring Command Bezel has three positions it can turn too. The first position controls the date, the second the local time, and the third the reference time (second time zone). Once you rotate the bezel to the position of the setting you want to change, you can rapidly set the watch in either direction using the crown. This allows for a super quick and easy adjustment of the watch. Travelers love it. After all, travelers are one of the main targets Rolex had in mind when making this watch. Hence its name “Sky-Dweller”.

Read more about the Rolex Sky-Dweller

what watch should i buy
In this pic, the month is December (red square is above 12 o’clock) and the time in the second time zone is approx. 5 am.
Which is more useful, Rolex Daytona or Rolex Sky-Dweller?

To us, the Sky-Dweller is a lot more useful than the Daytona. Having the month and the use of two time zones is just more practical for the average person than a chronograph that converts elapsed time into units per hour. So, unless you are a driver or someone who would find a chronograph useful, the Sky-Dweller is a much more functional watch. 

Don’t get us wrong, we love us a chronograph watch, especially the Daytona. It is one of the most classic complications in all of watch history.

Comfort & Versatility 

which watch should I buy

Although both watches are really comfortable, the Sky-Dweller is a bit more comfortable for most people due to the design. This is because the pushers and crown guard on the Daytona can sometimes dig into the hand. But this is generally avoided if the watch fits correctly. 

As for versatility, the Daytona is a sports watch through and through. But it definitely can double as a dress watch. The same goes for the Sky-Dweller, however, the fluted bezel definitely has a dressy kind of feel to it. So, it will probably look even more appropriate with a suit. Nevertheless, both can be worn casually or dressed up to perfection and will never look out of place anywhere or anytime. 

Different Models & Versions

rolex daytona versions

The Rolex Daytona and Rolex Sky-Dweller are very similar in the metals used.

Both come in stainless steel, yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, platinum and two-toned gold and steel. 

Note: The Sky-Dweller doesn’t have a true all steel version. The fluted bezel is white gold on the steel version.

As for straps/bracelets, the Daytona uses metal, leather and a special Rolex patented bracelet called the Oysterflex Bracelet. The Oysterflex is a really cool black elastomer bracelet with a superelastic metal blade inside. 

rolex sky-dweller versions

The Sky-Dweller has metal bracelets and leather strap versions. No Oysterflex Bracelet or rubber straps.

Then, in terms of dials, the two are quite different in dial colors. Daytona’s dials have more variety.

All in all, the Daytona has quite a bit more versions than the Sky-Dweller. 

Price & Value

rolex comparison

The Sky-Dweller is more expensive than the Daytona on average. For example, the steel version of the Sky-Dweller will be a few thousand dollars more than the steel Daytona (albeit the steel Sky-Dweller does have a white gold bezel).

Note: The Sky-Dweller is known as Rolex’s most complicated watch AND it is Rolex’s most expensive sports watch too. 

Now, if we are talking about the most expensive Sky-Dweller vs Daytona ever sold, it’s not even comparable. A vintage Paul Newman Daytona watch sold for 17.8 million at auction a few years back…

So, on that note, let’s talk about resale value…

The Rolex Daytona sells on the secondhand market as quickly as it is listed. For more coveted references and vintage versions, they will sell for exorbitant prices. The Daytona is like an investment watch, as you can be sure it is going to increase in value. Moreover, it will sell anywhere in the world. Rolex Daytona watches, especially the Stainless Steel models, are like gold.

watch comparison

As for the Sky-Dweller, it is definitely a buyer’s market at the moment. This essentially means there is more supply than there is demand. So, prices are not exactly outrageous. However, some models like the blue dial stainless steel Sky-Dweller (as pictured above) can be hard to get your hands on. We’ve heard of people waiting up to a year to get their hands on a steel Sky-Dweller with a sunburst blue dial. A lot of these people turn to the second hand market, and find the price is higher than MSRP in some cases…

On the whole, new Daytona watches are more affordable, and the resale value is much better. 

Final Note:

If you want to spend your money on a watch in a “smart” manner, almost as if it is an investment, the Daytona makes sense. But if you want a watch that is more practical, the Sky-Dweller is the way to go, unless a stopwatch is something that you’d find very useful. 

As for which has a better style and appearance, that really comes down to personal preference. In our opinion, the Daytona has a more classic, vintage, timeless look, and the Sky-Dweller is more modern, flashy, and versatile. You can’t go wrong with either…

So, the choice is yours! 

Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton:

Shop Rolex Daytona Watches
Show Rolex Sky-Dweller Watches

Let us know which watch you like better in the comments below – The Rolex Sky-Dweller or the Rolex Daytona! 

Also, if you have something to add to this Rolex Sky-Dweller vs Rolex Daytona comparison, we’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below to keep this conversation going or send us an email with your thoughts!


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