Usually, when you imagine a watch bearing the name Rolex, it is something purpose-built, casual-sporty (not always, and the ‘dressiest’ in the collection is a Day-Date) and simple in terms of complications (with the exception of the Sky-Dweller… but it is one watch among mainly time-and-date pieces). In 2014, Rolex revived a name synonymous with elegant dress watches: Cellini. Built with a classic round case, this watch has already introduced several complications, with all of them being rather practical. But what if The Crown goes where you don’t expect it to go… into astronomical complications. Not very Rolex you’ll probably say, however that’s exactly what it did with the new Rolex Cellini Moonphase Ref. 50535 and it looks great!
“A Rolex with a moon-phase display? Isn’t every Rolex built around a single purpose? From that perspective, the moon-phase complication is kind of odd”
The new Rolex Cellini Moonphase Ref. 50535 indicates hours, minutes, seconds, the moon phase and the date by means of a date pointer hand. The moon-phase indication on a wrist watch is, let’s be honest, kind of useless. When was the last time you checked the phase of the moon? This complication is probably best labeled ‘poetical’. The concept of Rolex has been for a long time, to offer one watch for one purpose – Submariner for divers, Explorer for adventurers, GMT-Master for travelers, Daytona for race drivers (at least, that’s how Rolex watches are advertised). While this holds true for the Oyster collection, Rolex’s catalogue also comprises another range of watches, very different from the Osyters and, admittedly, the perfect base to explore different territories, including precious and rare materials, specific craftsmanships or other type of complications. It’s in this context that the Cellini Moonphase comes to life.
Before Rolex started making the watches that we know today, they had several watches with a moon-phase indication – a few in particular, and only those few, are rare and sought-after today by collectors. There are actually two models that we can think of, that possibly influenced the design of the new Rolex Cellini Moonphase Ref. 50535 in terms of style but also in terms of display. These two are icons and auction-stars: the Rolex 6062 “Stelline” and the Rolex 8171 “Padellone”. The first one was made only for a period of three years in the early 1950s. The second one, which features a more generous 38mm case (vs. 36mm), was also made during the early 1950s for a very short period. Both had the same display: two windows for the day of the week and the month, and more interestingly for today, the date on the periphery and the phases of the moon in an off-centre dial at 6 o’clock… just like the new Cellini Moonphase.
Usually, The Crown is not so keen on doing vintage-oriented pieces, however with this Rolex Cellini Moonphase, we can’t help but be reminded of the references 8171 and the 6062. Of course, this is not a simple “recreation” of an old model, but the inspiration is rather clear, and extremely classical in the execution. We knew that the new, round Cellini was the field for such traditional complications, a bit removed from Rolex habits, and this new moon version doesn’t contradict. We even started to dream about triple-calendar, annual calendar or even perpetual calendar versions – which officially never existed at Rolex, but still did unofficially. This Cellini Moonphase is different, not very Rolex at first but still feels like Rolex, when viewed with historical eyes. And honestly, it feels good to see something drastically different from the usual Sub / GMT / Datejust.
Let’s talk about the display, first. The new Rolex Cellini Moonphase plays with extremely classic, balanced and elegant themes, with a display that recalls watches from the 1950s (not only from Rolex, as these types of watches were highly successful at that time): the moon-phase at 6, the date indicated by an elongated central hand and a date track on the very periphery of the dial… but without the usual day and month windows at 12. This absence of calendar indication doesn’t remove anything to the beauty of such a display, perfectly suitable in the context of a dress watch: balanced, elegant, discreet and legible. And because we’re talking about Rolex, of course every indication is perfectly distinct from the others (minute track, hour indexes and date track are well positioned and well separated). And then, there’s the moon at 6.
Contrary to most watches, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase uses a display that differs slightly from the crowd. Usually, moonphase indications are semi-circular windows which show a partial to full indication of the moon (or none at new moon), with a discs that rotates on 59 teeth (2 x 29.5 days). Here, there’s no semi-circular window but a full disc, with both the full and the new moon, meaning that the disc rotates once every 29.5 days (maybe a bit more precise in terms of adjustment). The age of the moon is pointed to by a triangular gold marker just below the axle of the hands. Correcting the age of the moon is done via a recessed pusher at 8, with a dedicated tool (we would have preferred a correction by the crown…)
In terms of materials and execution, this moon disc is absolutely superb – and something actually very new for Rolex, which is not so used to rare materials and fine craftsmanship. Indeed, the blue color is obtained by an enameling process (not painted or lacquered), with the stars and new moon in a gilt color. The moon is crafted from a meteorite disc, with multiple details. The whole display is really pleasant and satisfying in terms of quality and attention to detail. This moon is circled by a double gold ring, again adding some depth to the dial.
As for the dial, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase Ref. 50535 uses the simple white lacquered version. While on the time-only version, this white lacquered plate could seem quite strict and plain, and the other versions with “rayons flammés de la gloire” guilloche pattern more appealing, Rolex made the right choice here to keep it clean and simple. The applied indexes and hands match the 18k Everose gold case (the only option available for the moment), with the exception of the blued date hand. The case remains identical to the previous versions, with a 39mm, a slightly “bubble back” style and a finely fluted bezel. It is worn on a brown strap, with for the first time, a folding clasp named “Crownclasp“.
Inside we find the “Superlative Chronometer” calibre 3195, derived from the other movements used in the Cellini collection, meaning -2/+2 seconds per day precision, 5 year warranty, automatic winding, anti-magnetic Parachrom spiral, 4Hz frequency and 48 hours of power reserve – this movement uses the calibre 3130 of the Oyster Perpetual 36 as its base for instance, with added complications on top. So to say, a workhorse that will never give up.
Overall, with this new Rolex Cellini Moonphase Ref. 50535, we are presented with an elegant, very balanced and (no surprise) very well executed watch. The addition of such a useless but traditional complication opens the door to many possible evolutions for the Cellini collection… Who knows, we can dream of a QP or a triple calendar soon. This watch will be available in September 2017 and priced at EUR 24,550. Rolex.com.
Technical Specifications – Rolex Cellini Moonphase Ref. 50535
- Case: 39mm diameter – 18k Everose gold, polished, fluted bezel – sapphire crystal on the dial side, plain caseback – 50m water resistant
- Movement: Calibre 3195, in-house, Chronometer certified – automatic with perpetual rotor – 4Hz frequency – 48h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date and age of the moon
- Strap: brown alligator with folding clasp
- Reference: 50535
- Availability: September 2017
- Price: EUR 24,550 – USD 26,750 – CHF 25,550