Over these last few weeks we have discussed how simple rotating bezels bring critical functionality to Rolex watches.  Up until this point, Rolex bezels had one or two functions ranging from holding the watch crystal in place on earlier models, to measuring elapsed time underwater or travel time to another continent such as on the Submariner and GMT. Rolex’s emphasis on “evolution” and not “revolution” continues to manifest itself in innovations not anticipated by anyone in the watch industry. One such innovation is Rolex’s Ring Command found in the Rolex SkyDweller and YachtMaster II.


Ring Command combines the time-setting functionality of pushers along with the time setting functionality of the winding crown.  Rather than having special pushers on the side of watch-cases to set complications, Rolex combines these functions into the bezel.  Typically on the side of complicated wrist-watches such as moon phase or minute repeaters, there are small pins that are depressed with a toothpick to the specific timing function correctly.  Many of these functions are too complicated to incorporate into the winding crown other than setting the time and date.  On Rolex’s most functionally complex wristwatch, the SkyDweller, there are no extra holes on the side of the case for setting these functions because of Ring Command.  Additionally, on Rolex Yachmaster II, a chronograph specifically designed for Yachting, Rolex utilizes Ring Command to set and activate a 10-minute countdown timer, a relatively complex feature not found on other watches.


The Ring Command module inside the watch comprises no fewer than 60 components, and two double cams and levers that engage various gears inside the movement.  Despite the internal complexity, Ring Command is a simple interface incorporating two ¼ turns in the bezel combined used in tandem with the winding crown to move specific functions to the correct setting.


Connecting the bezel to the micromechanics inside the case utilizes a simple post with a toothed gear that engages teeth located inside the bezel.  Turning the bezel activates the geared pin that connects to the movement inside the watch.  One of the simple marvels of Ring Command is that a post is easy to keep water resistant and clean, similar to how a winding stem is waterproofed when it enters the watch-case.


Another aspect of Ring Command is that its functionality is completely hidden.  Unlike pushers on the case side, Ring Command is invisible. There are no buttons, no toothpicks or any special tools required to set the SkyDwellers complications or the YachtMaster II’s 10-minute countdown timer.  Unscrew the crown to the first stop, turn the Ring Command to the correct setting, and use the winding crown to set that specific function to the appropriate setting.

The next time you are in Fourtané, be sure to examine the SkyDweller and the YachtMaster II and utilize Ring Command. It’s surprisingly simple and an innovation that is purely Rolex.

-Sheldon Smith