It may not be as well-known as other Rolex watches but the Cellini watch is a creative, timeless and underrated model that belongs to an incredibly diverse family. There are an expansive range of case styles, materials, movements and bracelet designs to choose from within the Rolex Cellini watch collection, making it, at times, a difficult timepiece to identify. Precious metals and guilloche dials are just some of the characteristics of a Cellini watch. These are combined with complications like moon-phase indicators and dual time functions. Despite such a diverse range to choose from, Rolex Cellini watches are collectable for many reasons. These designs are crafted from Everose or 18ct white gold – some of which are showered in diamonds – and are fitted on traditional leather straps. In-house movements are the workhorses of these indulgent timepieces, plus all Cellini watches are leveraged by the provenance of a world-leading watchmaker, whose name is associated with quality, reliability, superior hardiness and expert craftsmanship.
To get a clear understanding of the Rolex Cellini watch, here is an introductory article that talks briefly about its history, as well as identifying some key models from the collection.
It was 1968 when the first Rolex Cellini watch was released. It has always been known for its non-Oyster case design. Named after the Florentine goldsmith, sculptor, and painter - Benvenuto Cellini -the first models were slim, gold, powered by manual-winding movements, and displayed the time only on their dials. As the range grew with time, the Cellini collection offered everything from the cushion-shaped Danaos, to the eight-sided Cellini Octagon, to the Art Deco-inspired Prince, and even the asymmetrical Cellini Midas.
In 2014, Rolex designed the Cellini watch with a more Oyster-inspired case and ever since then, these models have come in a 39mm size with a double-stepped bezel and a flared winding crown. In 2017, Rolex released the Cellini Moonphase, inspired by an earlier 1950s model with a reference number of 50535. It proved to be an incredibly popular timepiece thanks to its elegantly decorated moonphase indicator paired with a practical pointer date feature.
As a rule, all modern Rolex Cellini watches launched as part of the standardisation process back in 2014 also have the “Rolex Geneve” lettering and the “Cellini” name on their dials. There are smooth and fluted versions of the model’s double bezel, an 18ct white gold case or Everose case (fitted on a leather strap with a gold buckle in a material to match its case), a sapphire crystal glass front, a fluted caseback, a chronometer-certified automatic movement, and a 50-meter water resistance. Rolex Cellini watches can be separated into four sub-categories; the Cellini Time – a simple three-handed design with hour, minute and second hands, the Cellini Date – a three-handed display with a date feature located at 3 o’clock, the Cellini Dual Time – with a second time zone sub-dial paired with a day and night indicator, and the Cellini Moonphase – a three-handed dial design with a pointer date and a moon phase indicator.
As a general rule, most Rolex watches make solid investments. The same goes for the Rolex Cellini, despite the watch not having the same following as some of the big-hitters like the Datejust and the Daytona. Over recent years, it is the stainless steel Cellini watches that have performed the best. This coincides with the mass desire to own a stainless steel sports watch, which, of course, has been a huge hit since the seventies. Gold versions of the Cellini can sell on the pre-owned market for less than their initial retail price, whilst you can expect to pay more for the steel versions. With this in mind, the Rolex Cellini is a watch that is best worn and enjoyed on the wrist. Since the prices of watches and what is deemed desirable often changes and fluctuates, there is no telling whether the Rolex Cellini will appreciate or not over the coming decades.
Understandably, vintage Rolex Cellini watches are particularly sought after. The Rolex Cellini King Midas watch, for example, was inspired by the Greek mythological figure who turned everything he touched to gold. It has a distinct flat, polygonal case and a crown set on the left side of the case. Elvis Presley was a fan of this watch, which was allegedly designed by no other than Gerald Genta, thus adding further appeal to the watch. This vintage Cellini watch can expect to sell for around $10,500 on the pre-owned market. The Rolex Cellini Danaos is another popular model, which was developed in the early 2000s. Its flat cushion-shaped case recalls Rolex’s 1930 bubble-back cases. Rose or white gold versions of this model cost around $6,500.
More modern never-worn-before Rolex Cellini watches in a simple three-hand design retail for around $13,000, whilst on the pre-owned market, one can cost around $10,000. Diamond-studded bezel designs crafted from rose gold from the Cellini collection cost around $18,500 from new. As mentioned, one of the highlights of the Rolex Cellini series is the Moonphase model produced in 2017. Crafted from blue enamel and a real piece of meteorite, the moonphase indicator rotates whilst synchronised with the lunar cycle against a white dial and is accompanied by a pointer date. Its design bears a resemblance to extremely rare moonphase watches made by Rolex during the 1950s. It is, however, a more budget-friendly version of these vintage watches (which can run you up around $71,000), costing around $26,000 from new, or a little less for a pre-owned model.
The Rolex Cellini Time watch is available in two options; an 18ct white gold version ref. 50509 or an Everose (Rolex’s proprietary rose gold alloy) ref. 50505. Both of these models can be purchased on either a black or brown leather strap that secures with a buckle on a matching gold to suit the case. There’s also a white or black dial to choose from in both models. The hour track on both dials is characterised by traditional Roman numeral markers mixed with baton indexes. The Rolex Cellini Time is a popular model to collect from the range because it offers a simplified and parred-back design that is both modest and versatile at the same time. This design makes for a particularly easy model to pair with elegant or sophisticated attire, plus the addition of the leather strap is a comfortable option for wearing every day of the week.
The addition of the date function in the design of the Rolex Cellini watch is something different to the norm. Whereas many Rolex watches will feature a standard date aperture or a date under a cyclops lens at 3 o’clock, the feature on this model is represented in a subsidiary dial. The date numerals are positioned around the ring of the sub-counter and identified by a slim hand. The Rolex Cellini Date ref. 50515 is, similarly to the Cellini Time variations, crafted from Everose whilst the ref. 50519 has been developed from 18ct white gold. A traditional guilloche technique has been chosen to adorn the surface of the watch’s dial in colour options of silver, black or blue. At the heart of these popular Rolex Cellini watches is the Caliber 3165 automatic movement, developed in-house and offering a reliable 48-hour power reserve.
Handy for those who frequently travel for business or leisure, the Rolex Cellini Dual Time watch is primed for tracking a second time zone in the 6 o’clock location. The 12-hour second time zone is both legible and also in-keeping with the elegant and purist look of the Cellini dial. Once more the ref. 50525 refers to the Everose version whilst the ref. 50529 is crafted from 18ct white gold. A day and night indicator is also provided in the form of a sun and moon that appears in a small window within the second time zone sub-counter. Applied hour markers are dressed against a guilloche textured dial in black or silver and the watch is powered by the in-house Caliber 3180. The self-winding movement is chronometer-certified and capable of producing a 48-hour power reserve once fully wound. It also features a Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers for enhanced performance.
Lastly, we couldn’t bring this guide on the Rolex Cellini watch to a close without mentioning one of the brand’s most popular models from this elegant series. The Rolex Cellini Moonphase watch is only available in Everose. Its dial is furnished in a striking white lacquer, enabling the moonphase indicator at 6 o’clock to pop. The blue enamel disc creates a backdrop for an iridescent moon crafted from a real piece of meteorite. A blue hand with a crescent moon tip indicates the date around the periphery of the dial, whilst the self-winding Caliber 3195 is encased inside a robust 50-meter water-resistant housing, performing at a rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour. To complete its elegant design, this popular Rolex Cellini watch secures to the wrist with a classic black alligator leather strap and a matching Everose buckle.