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Rolex Submariner vs Sky-Dweller, Which Should I Buy?

Rolex Submariner vs Sky-Dweller, Which Should I Buy?

Rolex Submariner or sky-dweller

Are you deciding whether to buy a Rolex Submariner or a Rolex Sky-Dweller? It’s never an easy decision when choosing between two incredibly fine watches. When it comes down to it, neither is better. They are two very different yet fantastic timepieces. It really comes down to personal preference. Nevertheless, to help you decide, we’ve put together a Rolex Submariner vs Sky-Dweller comparison that will give you all the facts. We think this will make your decision easier. 


Rolex Submariner or sky-dweller

In this Rolex Submariner vs Sky-Dweller comparison, we discuss both watches’ history, collectibility, complications & functionality, designs & options, versatility, movement & reliability, and value & price. This should be all you need to know when choosing between a Rolex Submariner and a Rolex Sky-Dweller. 


Submariner vs Sky-Dweller

Submariner History

The Rolex Submariner was first introduced in 1954. However, the saga of the Submariner really dates way back to 1926 when Rolex unveiled the Oyster case, which catapulted Rolex into history as the premier water-resistant luxury sports watch brand.

Over the years, the Submariner has seen almost countless iterations and variations. As the brand itself evolved, so did the Submariner, yet it always kept its overall aesthetics and diver’s watch DNA.

For decades now, the Rolex Submariner has been one of Rolex’s most popular watches. In fact, it is arguably the most iconic and recognizable watch in the world. 

Sky-Dweller History

The Sky-Dweller is Rolex’s newest watch creation. It made its debut in 2012. It was the first new Rolex model in 20 years! 

Obviously, the “history” of the Sky-Dweller is extremely short. It hasn’t even been around for a decade, whereas the Submariner collection has seen multiple references that were produced for longer than a decade. 

Nevertheless, the Sky-Dweller has quickly become one of the most talked about and coveted watches the world over. It’s no surprise, as it is Rolex’s most complicated watch and it is very special in that it isn’t a sports watch and it isn’t a dress watch, it’s somewhere in-between. This makes it the perfect fit for nearly every collector’s watch box. 

should I get a rolex sky-dweller or submariner


Both the Submariner and the Sky-Dweller have collectibility. However, the Submariner has far more watches that are true collectibles. After all, it has a much longer history and most Rolex watches don’t earn true collector status for years after they are discontinued. 

In the realm of the Submariner, the 6204, 6205, 6200, various 1680’s, and many more are now highly valuable, and thus, collectible.

But, that doesn’t mean modern Rolex watches can’t be collectible. Even watches still in production can be classified as collectible. They are instant classics. 

In terms of modern Submariners, you have reference 16610LV (green) and 11660LN (black), which are both highly sought after and collectible. Even the newest versions of these stainless steel Submariners (reference 126610LV and 126610LN) are collectible. You know this because they are nearly impossible to buy brand new at MSRP. You have to buy them on the secondhand market at a premium.

As for the Sky-Dweller, the only reference that really has “collector status”, as of now, is the stainless steel blue dial Sky-Dweller, reference 326934. 

submariner 116610 vs sky-dweller 326934


The Submariner is a diver’s watch so it’s main functionality is to be waterproof and corrosion resistant. With that, it offers 1,000 feet of water resistance. Moreover, it is extremely resistant to corrosion. Although nowadays, all Rolex sports watches are corrosion resistant and highly durable. In addition to its high level of waterproofness, the bezel of the Submariner was designed to allow diver’s to track their time underwater. It is unidirectional too, so it eliminates the chance of a diver accidentally rotating the bezel in a way that extends their dive time. A very important safety measure for divers with limited oxygen supply. 

Note: There are two main types of Submariners, the Date and No-Date Submariners. Needless to say, the Date Submariners have a standard date complication and the No-Date Subs don’t.

The Sky-Dweller, as the name suggests, is made for those who travel the world.  It has a dual timezone, annual calendar, and date complication, with a Ring Command Bezel to make setting the watch a breeze. The three very useful complications plus the Ring Command Bezel make the Sky-Dweller Rolex’s most complicated watch.

Related: Sky-Dweller Review (Learn All About the Complications)

Note: The Sky-Dweller has an Oyster case so it does offer water resistance, just not nearly as much as the Submariner. The Sky-Dweller is waterproof to 330 feet.

should I get a sky-dweller or a submariner


Over the course of the Submariner’s life, Rolex has released many different references. There’s too many Submariner references to go over here. The total number of Sky-Dweller references, on the other hand, could be covered with a few short bullet points. 

That said, there are 18 different Sky-Dwellers being produced right now. Not all are different references, though. This includes 6 main references, each with 3 dial color options. 

On the second hand market, you will have an additional 4 Sky-Dweller models available to you, which are now discontinued. These models are the leather strap Sky-Dwellers (and the all-white gold Sky-Dweller). 

As for the Submariner, you have 5 main references (one of which is a No-Date), for a total of 8 different models currently being produced. Of course, if you look to the secondary market, you have many more options. 

Secondary Market

Because the vast majority of Rolex buyers shop both the secondary market and the retail market, overall you will have more Submariner references to choose from. This is obvious as its been around much longer. However, it’s important to look at the general designs of the two collections, as new references don’t necessarily mean aesthetics changes, they are often just upgrades to materials and movements.  

Submariner Designs 

rolex submariner designs

The Submariner collection includes watches made from Oystersteel, Two Tone (Oystersteel and Yellow Gold), Yellow Gold, and White Gold. 

All Submariners are 40mm in case diameter. 

All Submariners come with a metal bracelet. While you could add an aftermarket strap, the bracelet is standard. 

As for bezel and dial colors, you have black, blue and green. Furthermore, all Submariners use the same dial design, which is the circle, rectangle and triangle hour markers with the Mercedes-style hands. 

That pretty much sums up your options for Submariners. The new generations simply change the materials used (for example, new Submariners have the superior ceramic bezel rather than the aluminum bezels of the past). If you go back down the Submariner line far enough, you will, however, have noticeable aesthetic differences, but the general look is the same. 

Sky-Dweller Designs 

Sky-dweller designs

The Sky-Dweller collection includes Oystersteel, White Gold, Two-Tone, Yellow Gold and Rose Gold (Submariner doesn’t have a rose gold option). 

Note: The Oystersteel versions are actually Rolesors (steel and white gold), as they have a white gold bezel. This means every Sky-Dweller has some gold. 

All Sky-Dwellers have a 42mm case diameter, so they are big watches.

While the Sky-Dweller is only produced in a metal bracelet and Oysterflex rubber strap now, there are discontinued versions with a leather strap that you can buy on the secondary market. However, the new 2020 Sky-Dweller’s release of the Oysterflex strap is very well received. It’s the perfect strap for the dressy yet sporty watch. 

All Sky-Dwellers have a fluted bezel. This is what gives the larger and otherwise very sporty watch that dressed-up appearance. 

As for dials, you have white, black, blue, champagne, brown and a dark gray. They are all a beautiful sunburst color. 

As for the appliqués, Rolex decided to eliminate the use of Roman and Arabic numerals, which some past Sky-Dweller models had, for baton indices. As such, all new models have the same dials, just different colors. 

All in all, at retail , you have more options with the Sky-Dweller. But, we all shop on the secondary market, and the Submariner has way more history, so you will, in fact, have many more options to choose from when shopping for a Submariner. Especially when you consider all the special models they’ve produced and discontinued over more than the last half century. 

rolex watch comparison


The Sky-Dweller and the Submariner are very versatile watches. Due to the iconic status of the sporty diver’s watch, it can be worn from the beach to a dinner party, suited up with a tie, without missing a beat. The Sky-Dweller, has similar versatility. It’s a casual, classic watch by nature of design, so it looks great both casually and formally. 

But, generally speaking, the Submariner is more sporty and way better for water activities (although the Sky-Dweller is sufficiently waterproof for mostly all recreational water play), and the Sky-Dweller is more dressy and better for a formal occasion. 

In any case, you can’t go wrong with either. They are both made for daily wear. They work for literally any occasion. You just have to decide if you want to be more on the sporty-side or the dressy-side. 

luxury watch comparison


Both watches have workhorse movements that are extremely precise and reliable. This is Rolex after all. 

New Subs have a 3235 movement, which is praised as one of the best movements ever made. It has all the latest and greatest specs you could ask for and a power reserve of 72 hours. 

With the Sky-Dwellers complications, the collection obviously has a new and exclusive movement. It is a calibre 9001 movement. It also includes all of the latest movement technology by Rolex and a 72 hour power reserve. 

All in all, both movements are made to the highest standard – certified as a superlative chronometer, accurate to -2/+2 seconds per day.

rolex dress watch or sports watch


With exception to certain highly collectible Submariners, Sky-Dwellers cost significantly more than Submariners. The lowest entry price to the Sky-Dweller club is around $17,000, where as the entry price for a Submariner is $9,000 (No-Date) and $10,000 (Date). 

Of course, models like the blue dial Sky-Dweller reference 326934 and the black dial & bezel Submariner reference 126610 are nearly impossible to get at retail so you will pay a $4,000-$6,000 premium for either on the secondary market. 

In terms of resale value, both hold value very well. It’s basically a tie in this regard. 

Raymond Lee Jewelers watches


In an ideal world, having both a Submariner and Sky-Dweller would be amazing. They are two very different watches, functionality and styling wise. The two would complement your watch collection perfectly. There is no clash between the Submariner and the Sky-Dweller. It’s like having a pair of sneakers and a pair of shoes or a Porsche and a Rolls Royce. 

However, not everyone has the luxury of getting both watches. So, it really comes down to personal preference. To make the right choice, all you have to do is choose the one that call to you most. We know this may be a difficult decision, but if you listen to your heart and put other’s opinions to the side, you will find the answer.

Shop Rolex Sky-Dwellers at Diamonds By Raymond Lee

Shop Rolex Submariners at Diamonds By Raymond Lee


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