Rolex Cellini: Getting to Know the Underrated Rolex

Rolex is very well-known for their tool watches, and when the occasion calls for something more formal, Rolex fans look to the Datejust or Day-Date as their go-to watch.

The Rolex Cellini, the brand’s dedicated line of dress watches, tends to go unnoticed. With a long history, diverse assortment of designs, and eventual discontinuation, the Rolex Cellini collection always took a backseat to the brand’s well-defined series of watches.

 

Elegant, storied, and creative, there’s a lot to be appreciated in the Rolex Cellini. Take a closer look at the line-up and find out why you shouldn’t sleep on it.

Beginnings of the Rolex Cellini Collection

The Rolex Cellini line has been part of the brand’s portfolio since its earliest days, but has gone largely unnoticed. It was in the 1960s that Rolex began to market the Cellini as a purpose-built line of elegant dress watches.

In the decade prior, the brand’s Director for Marketing, Rene-Paul Jeanneret, began to craft the ideal mindset of the Rolex collector – one who gets a Rolex for specific purposes, instead of buying just one.

 

Cellini Classic
Rolex Cellini watches, flanking the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony.
The Cellini was created as a dedicated line of formal dress watches.
As tool and sport watches like the Rolex Submariner, GMT-Master, and Explorer became successful in the market, it was time to offer a dedicated line of “tuxedo” dress watches: the Rolex Cellini.

 


 

Wide Assortment of Designs

Unlike Rolex’s series of watches, such as the Daytona and the Datejust, the Rolex Cellini was a catch-all for the dress watches of the brand. It didn’t have a single aesthetic and this resulted in a very wide range of designs.

In the 1960s, the Rolex Cellini had bold, angular, and unusually-shaped designs like the King Midas; while the 1970s inspired decidedly vintage, cushion shaped watches like the Cellini Danaos.

 

Cellini Danaos
Rolex Cellini Danaos watches in stainless steel and 18k rose gold

In the following decades, there were a range of designs that also took inspiration from Rolex’s formative years. The Cestello and Cellini Classic for example, had smaller cases in the mid-30s that are reminiscent of the old Bubbleback designs.

In the new millennium, Rolex also re-introduced the unorthodox Rolex Cellini Prince. A modern iteration of the 1928 design, the unique, rectangular watch really stood out from the brand’s line-up of Oyster watches.

 

Cellini Prince
Rolex Cellini Prince in 18k yellow gold
While well-made and impeccably crafted, these changes gave the Rolex Cellini a confusing multitude of designs. It lagged behind the rest of Rolex’s well-defined collections and was eventually discontinued.

 


 

The Modern Rolex Cellini

In 2014, the Rolex Cellini line came back in a big way – this time, with a well-defined aesthetic. It’s still different from the rest of the Rolex portfolio, but its identity is clear: it’s the dress watch by Rolex, for Rolex lovers.

Today’s contemporary line of Rolex Cellini watches are now composed of four watches.

 

Modern Cellini Watches
from left: Rolex Cellini Date and Rolex Cellini Dual Time in 18k Everose Gold

 

Each have the same curved 39mm case that is either crafted in 18k white gold, or Rolex’s proprietary Everose gold. The models either have a simple black lacquered dial or an intricate guilloché dial with the ‘rayon flammé de la gloire’ motif.

Three versions were launched first:

  • The Time – a simple three hands watch
  • The Date – featuring a date subdial at 3 o’clock; and
  • The Dual-time – featuring a subdial   at 6 o’clock to show the second time zone, plus a day-night indicator

 

Modern Cellini Watches
Rolex Cellini Moonphase in 18k Everose gold

 

In 2017, Rolex launched the Rolex Cellini Moonphase – the first Rolex to feature a moonphase complication since the 1950s. It brought back an old-school complication, but still in the modern-yet-classic look of today’s Rolex Cellini.

With the modern Rolex Cellini, the brand has succeeded with creating a decidedly elegant line of modern dress watches — and it looks like it’s here to stay.

 

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SEE MORE OF THE WATCHES IN OUR VIDEO:

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