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The Rolex Cellini is the brand’s dedicated line of dress watches. Formed in the 1960s, the Cellini collection stood out as the only line of Rolex watches that did not sport an Oyster case. Amid Rolex’s focus on creating tool watches that serve a specific function, the Rolex Cellini was created as a symbol refinement and sophistication – an elegant finishing touch to any ensemble.
In contrast to the instantly recognizable design of Rolex Oyster watches, Rolex Cellini watches come in a vast assortment of case shapes and sizes, bracelet designs, and metal options. Before the collection was standardized in 2014, Rolex experimented on a variety of shapes, with focus on avant-garde design. While this has made it difficult to instantly identify the Cellini as a Rolex model, it also helped establish the Cellini as its most creative yet underrated collection.
Today’s Rolex Cellini collection is composed of harmoniously designed round dress watches on leather straps, with an assortment of complications to choose from. Explore our wide selection of Rolex Cellini watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.
The creation of the Rolex Cellini line was the brainchild of Rolex Director Rene-Paul Jeanneret – the same person responsible for the idea of developing Rolex “tool” watches. Beginning in the 1950s, Rolex focused their efforts in designing a variety of watches that will aid professionals in their daily lives. Thus, now iconic watches were born – the Explorer for mountaineering, the Submariner for diving, the Daytona for racing, and so on.
By the 1960s, Jeanneret proposed to create a line that was a distinct step away from the Oyster-cased watches of the time. Instead of focusing on specific functions, the collection will house exclusively gold dress watches better suited for black-tie and cocktail events. And so, the Rolex Cellini was born.
Rolex named the collection after Benvenuto Cellini, a Florentine maverick of the 16th century who, amongst other talents, was a goldsmith, sculptor, and painter. He is world renowned for creating masterpieces during the Renaissance period that continue to be celebrated today.
The earliest Cellini models were slim dress watches in solid gold and had manual-wind movements. Given their focus on elegance and aesthetics, Cellini watches were not given Oyster cases and were not built with water resistance in mind.
In 1964, Rolex followed the classic designs with an unorthodox model – the King Midas. Named after the Greek mythology legend who was famous for his ability to turn everything into gold, the watch featured an asymmetrical shape made from a single block of 18k yellow or gold. At the time, it was the heaviest gold watch on the market.
While the King Midas might not be popular today, it was one of the most expensive Rolexes of its time, and was the crowning glory of many collections – including those of the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley, and actor John Wayne.
The King Midas was followed by another geometric timepiece, the Cellini Octagon, which was also made in solid gold and had an integrated bracelet.
Beginning in the late 1970s, the Cellini series shifted from eye-catching designs to a more subdued aesthetic. Models such as the Cellini Danaos and Cellini Cestello had rounded cases that were very reminiscent of Rolex’s original Bubbleback cases.
At the start of the new millennium, Rolex introduced the Cellini Prince, an Art Deco rectangular watch inspired by a Rolex ‘Doctor’s Watch’ design from the 1920s. It featured a separate sub dial for the running seconds hand, which at the time was found incredibly useful by doctors, particularly for timing a patient’s pulse.
For about three decades, the Rolex Cellini became a catch-all for the brand’s elegant, dress-oriented timepieces. In 2014, Rolex took a page out of its Oyster-cased watches, and redesigned the Cellini with a simple, timeless design that is consistent across all the models.
The contemporary Cellini models all have 39mm round cases, with subtle flourishes of refined luxury – an 18k white or Everose gold case and markers, a polished finish, fluted bezel, and leather strap. The initial collection ranged from time-only to dual time models, and later on a moonphase model was added.
Rolex Cellini watches share little in common with the brand’s most popular styles, but their well thought-out designs and incomparable craftsmanship are proof of Rolex’s exacting standards in watchmaking.
The Rolex Cellini collection has had a colorful history, as it became Rolex’s avenue for experimenting with avant-garde designs and non-Oyster creations. The collection had a bevy of different models from the 1960s to the early 2000s, all of which have been discontinued.
Cellini King Midas (1970s) – a slim, asymmetrical watch with a pentagonal case shape and integrated bracelet. It is made with a single block of 18k yellow or white gold.
Cellini Octagon (1980s) – a slim geometric timepiece with an octagonal case and integrated three-link bracelet.
Cellini Danaos (1990s) – this range of watches come in cushion shaped cases and vibrant dials with either Arabic numerals or a “bullseye” design. They are accompanied with leather straps.
Cellini Cestello (1990s) – ultra-thin cushion-shaped watches with hinged lugs. Also accompanied by leather straps.
Cellini Cellissima (1990s) – exclusive collection of watches for ladies. These can either be round or oblong, with diamonds on the bezel.
Cellini Cellinium (2000s) – round platinum cases with simple Arabic numeral dials.
Cellini Prince (2005) – a rectangular Art Deco-inspired watch inspired by a 1920s Rolex design.
The Rolex Cellini collection was revived in 2014 and given a modern, cohesive dress watch design. All current-production Cellini watches come in 39mm cases, made of either 18k white gold or Everose gold, with a double bezel and accompanied by a leather strap. These come with a range of different functions:
Cellini Time – three-hand watch that indicates the hour, minute, and seconds. On the dial are long, thin baton hour markers and oversized thin Roman numerals at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. Powered by the Caliber 3132 movement.
Cellini Date – comes with a Rayon flammé de la gloire guilloche dial with thin, baton hour markers and a date indicator at 3 o’clock. Instead of an aperture, it uses a subdial to show the date. Powered by the Caliber 3165 movement.
Cellini Dual Time – similar to the Cellini date, but instead of the date aperture, it features a subdial at 6 o’clock to show a second time zone. On the subdial is a day/night indicator with an image of the sun and the moon. Powered by the Caliber 3180 movement.
Cellini Moonphase – the latest version of the modern Cellini, the Moonphase only comes in Everose gold. It features a blue enameled disc at 6 o’clock showing the moon phases. It is the first Rolex watch to include the moonphase complication since the 1950s.
The table below shows the list of Rolex Cellini references through the years, from older 4-digit references to the modern 5-digit models.
|3581||Cellini Queen Midas|
|3584||Cellini King Midas|
|3585||Cellini Queen Midas|
|4012||Cellini King Midas|
|4014||Cellini King Midas|
|4015||Cellini King Midas|
|4016||Cellini King Midas|
|4017||Cellini King Midas|
|4031||Cellini King Midas|
|4126||Cellini King Midas|
|4127||Cellini King Midas|
|4151||Cellini King Midas|
|4153||Cellini King Midas|
|4312||Cellini King Midas|
|4313||Cellini Queen Midas|
|4316||Cellini King Midas|
|4342||Cellini King Midas|
|4344||Cellini King Midas|
|4609||Cellini King Midas|
|4611||Cellini King Midas|
|4620||Cellini King Midas|
|4912||Cellini King Midas|
|5038||Cellini King Midas|
|5072||Cellini King Midas|
|9903||Cellini Queen Midas|
|6671 - 6671/9||Cellini Cellissima|
|5440||Cellini Prince Yellow Gold|
|5441||Cellini Prince White Gold|
|5442||Cellini Prince Rose Gold|
|50515||Cellini Date Rose Gold|
|50519||Cellini Date White Gold|
|50705||Cellini Time Rose Gold|
|50505||Cellini Time Rose Gold|
|50509||Cellini Time White Gold|
|50525||Cellini Dual Time Rose Gold|
The Rolex Cellini holds a special place in the Rolex catalog as its dedicated line of traditional dress watches. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the Rolex Cellini.
The Rolex Cellini is a collection of watches that emphasize elegant and sophisticated aesthetics. This is the only collection of Rolex watches that do not come in Oyster cases. Meant for more formal occasions, Cellini watches focus on refined design and luxurious finishings.
Rolex watches are made with exacting standards in order to guarantee their performance, durability, and aesthetics. Sub-par quality on the construction, finish, details and timekeeping are sure signs of a counterfeit.
There have been many different Rolex Cellini models throughout its history, so what to look for when authenticating the watch will vary between discontinued and modern models. We advise doing research beforehand, so you can check if the details of the watch are aligned with your chosen model’s supposed features.
The best way to avoid counterfeit watches is to “buy the seller”. Only purchase your watch from a reputable dealer, who can provide a guarantee of authenticity on the watches they sell.
Rolex continues to produce the modern iteration of the Cellini – the well-defined collection of round 39mm watches that come in 18k Everose gold or white gold. While Rolex has ceased production for older Cellini models, they are still available in the pre-owned market.