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Review: Rolex Cellini Moonphase

Hands-on analytical review with high resolution live photographs.
by Frank Chuo on April 5, 2017
Review: Rolex Cellini Moonphase

It wasn’t the most complicated, nor was it the most gem-studded. But the new Rolex Cellini Moonphase was surely the most unexpected release from Baselworld 2017. The moon phase complication had been AWOL from the dials of Rolex timepieces for decades but makes its triumphant return this year in a brand new Cellini model. Here we delve into the nitty-gritty details of the Cellini Moonphase and share our thoughts on this most interesting release from Rolex.

The case, dial, hands

The Rolex Cellini Moonphase comes in a case that measures a diplomatic 39 mm in diameter, that is to say that it is not oversized but should still fit a larger wrist. The case, which is entirely polished, is crafted from Rolex’s proprietary 18-carat Everose gold, an alloy cast in the manufacturer’s own foundry. The watch has an elaborate double bezel – one domed and the second finely fluted – that is distinctive of Cellini timepieces. While the Cellini hasn’t got the depth rating of its sportier cousins in the Oyster Perpetual line, it still is water resistant up to 50 m thanks in part to its screw-down winding crown.

The Cellini Moonphase has an elaborate double bezel, domed on top and fluted at the bottom.

The real beauty of the Cellini Moonphase lies in its dial, which is unique in the modern Rolex collection. The white lacquered dial appears absolutely pristine and serves as a backdrop that heightens the visual impact of the other elements on the dial. One such element is the charming moonphase display. Housed within an aperture at 6 o’clock, the blue enamelled (yes, enamel) moonphase disc becomes the centre of attention on the dial. Instead of a moonphase disc set within a bosom-shaped frame (the most common style of moonphase display), the Rolex simply uses an unframed disc with an indicator at the top of the aperture. The moonphase is read via the indicator as the full moon, depicted by a meteorite applique, and new moon, depicted by a silver ring, rotate through the cycle. The Rolex novelty also displays the date around the circumference of the dial while the railroad-style minute scale cuts through the faceted hour indices. To distinguish between the time-telling and date functions on the dial, the crescent-tipped radial date hand is blued to contrast the gold hour, minute and second hands.

Rolex sets the bar high by using an enamelled disc and a meteorite moon for its first ever moonphase display in the modern era.

The movement

The Rolex Cellini Moonphase is powered by the in-house Calibre 3195 that is equipped with the manufacture’s paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring. The self-winding, mechanical movement has a power reserve of 48 hours while operating at a modern 4 Hz beat rate. The Calibre 3195 is not only Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC)-certified but also meets in-house Rolex standards (post-casing). It should therefore be no surprise that the movement is precise to within -2/+2 sec/day, earning the Cellini “Superlative Chronometer” certification. As with the other Cellini references, the movement is hidden behind a solid, screw-down case back.

Don’t be fooled by its dressy appearance; the Rolex Cellini Moonphase powered by the Calibre 3195 is highly precise (-2/+2 sec/day)

A maverick Rolex

The running joke on Rolex has always been that they could make tiny aesthetic tweaks on an existing sports model and the people would just lap it up like it’s the Second Coming. While the new Cellini (or any Cellini model) is unlikely to induce mass hysteria, it has got much more to show for than yet another dial or bezel or inscription colour change. The new Cellini has got a moonphase display, and that is a big deal. For one, the last time Rolex made watches with the astronomical complication was when the revered references 6062 and 8171 (triple calendar moonphases) were in production way back in the 1950s. The Cellini even has the date displayed on the circumference of the dial, just like the Ref. 6062 and 8171. Secondly, Rolex rarely does poetic complications with no utility. They’ve done chronographs, day and date indicators, annual calendars, and dual-time displays in their modern line-up but these are arguably the most useful complications in horology. And if a moonphase display wasn’t surprising enough, how about an enamel moonphase disc with meteorite applique? Rolex is known today for its innovation in materials and technology, but not for its use of traditional decorative techniques like enamelling. These reasons are why the Cellini Moonphase is highly interesting, for it goes against the grain of what Rolex has been doing for decades.

An oddball for sure in Rolex’s modern line-up, but one that has won applause from critics.

Concluding thoughts

While the Cellini Moonphase may be the most unconventional Rolex to be unveiled in recent times, it will, most likely, still not be able to match the brand’s sports models in terms of popularity. However, with this release, Rolex may just have done enough to pull a different set of clientele to its boutique doors. A clientele that isn’t just after a Daytona with a new bezel, or the status that comes with owning a Rolex, but one that is increasingly curious of Rolex’s dabbling in and execution of the traditional dress watch. The price for the new Rolex Cellini Moonphase in 18k Everose gold is CHF25,500 or SGD35,980.

The Rolex Cellini Moonphase is an absolute stunner on the wrist and will easily grab the attention of enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike.

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