Rolex is probably best known for its sports watches rather than for complicated timepieces. However, its rich history does offer up examples of elegant, even poetic, watches with a moon phase display. At Baselworld 2017 this heritage was brought back to life with the Rolex Cellini Moonphase.
Rolex’s history with the moon phase display
While Rolex has created hundreds of watch models over the past century, only a handful combined a formal design and the moon phase indicator.
In the early fifties, Rolex created two watches with a complete calendar (i.e. one showing the current day, date, and month) paired with the moon phase display. Owing to their brief production runs, these timepieces are very rare. The first is the Ref. 8171 “Padellone”, a watch with a large case (for its time) that gave it a sporty style, but combined with an elegant dial. The second is the Ref. 6062 “Stelline”, where Rolex went for the classic Oyster case and a dressier design instead.
Both models are now particularly sought-after on the secondary market, to say the least. Indeed, a perfectly preserved example of the 8171 in steel can fetch up to US$1 million, as one did in November 2016. Even more impressive, the unique Ref. 6062 that was once the property of Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam, became the most expensive Rolex ever auctioned, selling for over US$5 million in May 2017.
The Rolex Cellini Moonphase
With the Rolex Cellini collection, Rolex reintroduced the concept of the round and timeless dress watch. After producing several different models over the years, including those with a pointer date or second time zone, the manufacture finally brought back the moon phase display. The new version of the Cellini is a sharp tribute to the past, with several elements harking back to Ref. 6062 and Ref. 8171.
The first one is of course the moon display at six o’clock – its traditional and most balanced position. The disc is made with extreme care: its starry sky is blue enamel, while the moon set on it is an applique made from a slice of meteorite. Its display is clear and highly legible, particularly against the white lacquered dial featuring gold indices and hands.
The second reference to the past is the date with pointer hand and track on the periphery of the dial, again a classical 1950s and 1960s look. Unlike its vintage ancestors, however, the new Cellini doesn’t have the day and months on the dial.
Despite being a totally new model, the Cellini Moonphase integrates perfectly into the classy and elegant Cellini collection. It has a 39mm case, only in Everose gold for now, with a finely fluted bezel that lends a touch of class while remaining discreet.
As for the mechanics, the Cellini Moonphase is equipped with Calibre 3195 – an in-house automatic movement based on the 3130. Like every other Rolex movement, it is “Superlative Chronometer” certified, which means that the watch is regulated to -2/+2 seconds per day, and backed with a five-year warranty. The movement also features the non-magnetic blue Parachrom hairspring that beats at a 4Hz, and has a 48-hour power reserve. In short, the Cellini moonphase has an extremely reliable and precise engine running inside.
With the Rolex Cellini Moonphase, Rolex returns to territory it hasn’t explored for decades, in an execution that is boasts refinement and superb execution.