Rolex Cellini Moonphase: A Guide to Rolex’s Most Elegant Dress Watch

Dress watches are wardrobe staples for a reason. People love to wear them not just during formal events but also in their everyday escapades. Other than the fact that dress watches are easy on the eyes, just like the Rolex Cellini Moonphase, these timepieces also provide a classy aesthetic that will surely never go out of style. Although often hidden from the spotlight, dress watches can pass as the ultimate everyday accessory because of their simple look. Not to mention, they look great on anyone and on any type of wrists, whether wide or slender. The slim profile and the average case sizes also add to their charms, making them the ideal go-to watches you should definitely own.

Being an A-list Swiss watch company and at the forefront of luxury watches, Rolex excels in producing dress watches, along with their other types of fully-functional timepieces meant for sports and other professional pursuits. The dress watches offered by the label do not only reflect their excellent craftsmanship and extensive history, but every piece is also well-executed and made with a pure passion for excellence and creativity. Notable collections like the Rolex Day-Date and the Rolex Datejust are the perfect and popular examples of the superb classic watches being produced by the company. 

Unknown to many, especially to the unacquainted,  there is another Rolex watch series for formal events that often go unappreciated and unnoticed by many watch enthusiasts and casual wearers alike. The brand calls this remarkable line the Rolex Cellini, which first came out in the 1960s, during the time when quartz-powered watches are the current trend in the world of horology.  Aside from their elegant characteristics, all timepieces under this series have distinct looks despite sporting minimalistic vibes. This is also what sets Rolex apart from many other remarkable names in the realm of timekeeping as it makes sure that any wearer would feel proud and special through its unique and ever-evolving sets of designs. The Cellini watches all deliver high-end serviceability, along with their ability to amp up any style.

One particular watch that stands out among this line is called the Rolex Cellini Moonphase. Known for its trailblazing appearance, this one is armed with top-tier advances that vintage and timeless watch lovers would certainly appreciate. For instance, this model brings back a classic complication called a moonphase, while still incorporating some modern touches. This function created an opportunity for people to widely appreciate not just this particular model but all of the watches under the line.

In this article, we will find out why the Rolex Cellini Moonphase deserves more than the hype it boasts and why it should be the next cult favourite. Specifically, we will have a look at its history, specifications as well as other nitty-gritty you should know before securing your very own piece.

Introduction to the Rolex Cellini

Simple as it may seem at first glance, Rolex Cellini’s history is actually interesting. Treated as another impressive creation of then Marketing Director of the company Rene-Paul Jeanneret, the collection was a game-changer for the whole brand for its designs are unusual to what Rolex has been producing over the years. It was something unexpected but it surely caught the attention of many.

Rolex Cellini
Rolex Cellini | Photo from David Munro on Flickr

From the sporty Rolex Submariner to the water-defying Rolex Sea-Dweller, the brand has been known for marketing its products for specific purposes since the mid-1950s. Through this strategy, they were able to accumulate a huge amount of followers, making them one of the top luxury watch brands of all time. Moreover, the strategy also made them incomparable with other competing companies as they are the only ones that can pull off that kind of tactic, along with getting favourable and positive outcomes. However, Jeanneret suddenly had the idea of changing Rolex’s direction into a more diverse one. He wanted to produce another legendary invention that would cater to the needs of many, while still having top-of-the-line attributes. With his vision of developing a stylish and aesthetics-oriented watch that both men and women could rock effortlessly, the executive decided to come up with the gorgeous dress watch line, the Rolex Cellini.

Launched right after the two iconic Rolex series for the bustling adventurers namely the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona and Sea-Dweller, the Rolex Cellini roster was more of like an ice-breaker from the robust and rugged tool watches that Rolex has been diligently making. Characterized by its sleek and extremely sophisticated appearance, the collection was first rolled out for the benefit of the general public in 1968 as the company’s specific line of noble dress watches. Making it more meaningful and special, it was named after highly-acclaimed 16th century Renaissance artist of Italian descent, Benvenuto Cellini, who is known for producing sculptures and masterpieces for popes and royalties, which remain celebrated until this present day. The Cellini timepieces serve as an ode to the talented goldsmith’s artistry and dedication to his craft.

The collection became well-received by the public and soon became one of Rolex’s premier offerings. Despite hurdles in terms of popularity among other Rolex collections, the Cellini line remained steadfast and loyal to its mission of giving everyone a watch that would go well with any circumstance and is not limited to a single purpose only. Moreover,  all of the timepieces under this series reflect Rolex’s attention to detail and applaudable watchmaking heritage, making them the most timeless watches the brand has ever created. Despite not having a high level of water resistance or a number of complications, the Cellini line boasts a glamorous and refined look. Just by browsing the catalog, you will notice that every piece is created as if they were artworks inside a museum, adorned with subtle yet impactful details that will make every watch enthusiast drool.

Another great thing about the line is that since its release, the brand started to explore many possibilities in terms of the watch’s compositions and designs. From creating pieces with unconventional shapes to producing ones that include many complications, the Geneva-based company made sure that consumers would constantly seek out their releases by unveiling features that exemplify their dedication to experimentation.

A Quick Look at the First Few Notable Models of the Rolex Cellini

Since its launch, the Rolex Cellini has given users the opportunity to carry the brand’s legacy in their wrists, in a form of an evoking timepiece. While it may not be as famous as other watches in Rolex’s prestigious lineup, the series still garners attention because of the uniqueness it brings to the table. Moreover, the fact that this collection does not stick with a single and permanent look makes it more exceptional among the rest. From square to round cases to incorporating self-winding or automatic calibers, the Cellini has probably used almost all of the functionalities there are in a watch. With that being said, let us now take a quick dive into the first generation of Cellini watches that remain relevant to this day.

Rolex Cellini King Midas

Rolex Cellini King Midas
Photo from De Mesy Fine Watches on Flickr

The Rolex Cellini King Midas is one of the first Cellini models released by the brand. Named after an ancient Greek god who possesses a magic touch in his left hand that could turn anything into gold, the watch became iconic because of its unconventional yet solid structure. What’s more is that the timepiece is made from heavy and pure gold, which is why it was dedicated only for the consumption of upper-class members of the society.  Because of its hefty weight, the price of this one is on the expensive side. Considered a brainchild of Gérald Genta, a renowned jewelry designer, who also worked with some of the biggest names in the industry like Piaget, IWC, and Omega, the inspiration for the shape and overall case design of the King Midas was the Temple of Gods in Greece, also called as the Pantheon.

It is important to note that the King Midas was a standalone series of the brand at first until Rolex decided to merge it to the Cellini line in order to demonstrate its flexibility and ability to adapt to the fast-changing world. The original Cellini King Midas with reference number 3580 stands out among the rest of the variations of its noble essence. Other than the fact that only around 500 pieces of this watch were produced throughout its entire 3- to 4-year run, it is also made by expert goldsmiths, who ensure that each part it comes with is well-executed. The case of the watch comes in either yellow or white gold that varies in weight and finishes like its Reference 9630 limited-edition predecessor, as well as the bracelet and deployant clasp placements. With its thin Calibre 650, this one also boasts great accuracy for its time despite being a manual-winding movement.

Rolex Cellini Danaos

Rolex Cellini Danaos
Photo from Matt Becker on Flickr

The Rolex Cellini Danaos came to life during the 1970s when Rolex decided to put a temporary halt to their daring concepts. This timepiece instantly became a hit due to its conventional and classic look. Those people who like to keep it simple and fresh will surely love the appeal of this watch.

The Cellini Danaos with reference number 4233 is simply breathtaking. It is impossible not to fall in love with this watch as it sports a strikingly clear black dial with white big hour-markers in Arabic numerals. Strictly sticking to the vintage theme, this watch comes with a 33mm case in a wide, cushion shape. It also has hands in sword-style as well as a strap that perfectly matches the color of the dial. Due to its shiny white gold case, bezel and buckle, this timepiece will certainly fit the men’s taste. However, women can also rock this one easily with its proportional case size.

Rolex Cellini Prince

Rolex Cellini Prince
Photo from Ryohta.O on Flickr

Another piece that took inspiration from Rolex’s past is the Rolex Cellini Prince. First released in 2005 at Baselworld, it is one of the most memorable watches from the collection mainly because of its glossy rectangular gold case and accompanying large patterned crown.

Much like the indigenous Prince watches (“Doctor’s Watches”) that were unveiled in the late-1920s, the Cellini Prince also sports a sub-dial at the bottom part, which is mainly dedicated to the small-seconds function. It also has a stunning leather strap in either black or brown colour that instantly elevates the whole look of the timepiece. What’s more is that people can choose from either yellow gold, white gold, or rose gold material, demonstrating the brand’s dedication to incorporating variation. Powering the watch is a rectangular movement called the Calibre 7040. This mechanism is equipped with a Paraflex shock absorber, making the timepiece more durable than ever. Putting the streamlined look altogether, its caseback is also bare, allowing spectators to openly admire how the movement beats.

Unfortunately, Rolex put a permanent stop to the Cellini Prince’s production after a decade because of its low sales. Despite this, the Cellini Prince still holds a great and rightful place within the collection. In fact, most watch enthusiasts still appreciate its beauty up until now, still regarded as a star of Haute horology discussions. When you encounter an individual selling this gem online, particularly on trusted websites, do not ever think twice about getting it for it will surely satisfy your thirst for spectacular and iconic vintage-inspired models.

Birth of the Rolex Cellini Moonphase

Rolex began to pour their energy towards making the Rolex Cellini watches cohesive and unified in 2014, with the release of Cellini Time, Cellini Date, and Cellini Dual Time models. Just like what their titles suggest, these pieces come in 39mm cases and have either a date display and a second timezone as their main feature. One of them, the Cellini Time edition, only features plain three hands, with no additional functions, reflecting the practices of traditional watchmaking. The revamp timepiece took the world by surprise as Rolex has been intensely focused on expanding their other lines that are more famous and more appropriate for those people who have active lifestyles. Despite this, Rolex nailed the re-launch and proceeded with marketing the three watches to a wider range of consumers. Three years later, they decided to add another show-stopping model that completely alters Rolex Cellini’s underrated reputation to a more rave-worthy one.

The Rolex Cellini Moonphase, also known as the Cellini Moonphase, Rolex Moonphase, and the Cellini Moonphase reference 50535, is one of the notable upgrades of the time-only Cellini pieces back then that did not have the Oyster case that most Rolex watches have. Unveiled in 2017 at the Baselworld, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase is known for being one of the company’s latest watches. It is also considered Rolex Cellini’s newest model, which became well-loved by many due to its moonphase indicator—something that has been missing on the brand’s catalog since the 1950s. This becomes the reason why the watch always becomes the center in any horological conversations, particularly of Rolex devotees. Not to mention, the addition of such complications made the Cellini Moonphase an ultimate collector’s item for any watch lover.

Rolex Cellini Moonphase | Photo from Long’s Jewelers on Flickr

Considered a direct successor of auction leaders Rolex Reference 8171 Triple Date Moonphase or “the Padellone” and Rolex Reference 6062 or “the Stelline”, which were both released during the early 1950s, the Cellini Moonphase possesses an exquisite design, along with reliable and strong components that make it a good daily watch. The whole appearance of the timepiece pays homage to the typical vintage Rolex watches we see around, particularly in vintage stores and secondhand market websites. Despite the resemblance to its predecessors due to their similar functionalities, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase has its own modernized charm and appeal that people should witness and praise more. The contemporary tweaks make the watch a good match not only to urbane millennials but people who are also already established in their respective fields.

Designed to make many heads turn, the watch is simply an astonishing sight to see. Due to its versatility and the elegance it brings to the table, you surely would want to get your hands on it immediately. From its clean dial, luscious case, and bezel to the attractive strap it came with, everything about this watch will make anyone swoon.

Up Close with the Rolex Cellini Moonphase

Despite not being included on everyone’s radar for quite some time, Rolex Cellini came back even stronger with the release of their revamped models starting in 2014. The newest breed of the series is the Rolex Cellini Moonphase Ref. 50535, which is particularly the most coveted one today because it has a voguish and lavish feel to it. It also has a great investment value, which will definitely increase significantly over the next years due to its rare moonphase element. If you are contemplating whether you should add this piece to your growing collection, below are the important details regarding the 50535 variations of the Rolex Cellini you should take note of.

Rolex Cellini Moonphase
Rolex Cellini Moonphase | Photo from Your Watch Hub on Flickr
  • Case material: 18K Everose Gold
  • Case dimension: 39mm
  • Movement: Mechanical, Perpetual, and Automatic
  • Water resistance: 50m
  • Power reserve: Approximately 48 hours

The Case

One of the main reasons why the Rolex Cellini Moonphase is becoming a collector’s item these days is because of its stunning case. Like the other current models in the collection, this watch sports a case size of 39mm, with a slightly wide appearance, making it the most appropriate piece for any type of wrist, whether slim or stout. Because of its equal proportions, this watch is very easy and comfortable to wear throughout your daily endeavors.  Lug-to-lug, this model measures about 46.44mm, giving the watch a smooth look. Not to mention, it is also only about 13.4 in thickness, which means that you would not have a hard time fitting it under your dress shirt cuffs.

Rolex Cellini Moonphase

The accessible crown of the Cellini Moonphase also deserves more attention. Aside from the fact that it is placed in a screw-down manner, the winding crown is also engraved with the signature emblem of the brand. Following the shape of a crown, the emblem gives the watch a noble feel. Despite not having a crown guard, the plain caseback is also screw-down and gives this model a great amount of security from any kind of moisture that could potentially enter the movement. Not to mention, the neat surface, coupled with the fluted edges is also what makes this watch even more unique. While it does not give a clear view of the watch’s movement, the caseback will make you realize that this watch is a great buy overall.

What’s great about this watch is that it has a water resistance rating of 50 meters. While you can’t bring this to extreme water sports activities such as snorkeling and diving, do not fret because it is still suitable for casual swimming. This means that you can still bring this one to your beach trips but with more precautions. Indeed, you can never go wrong with this watch, given how flawless its exterior parts are.

Material, Bezel, and Crystal

There are endless things to admire about the Rolex Cellini Moonphase. Despite coming from an underrated collection, the watch still exceeds expectations. However, what sets the timepiece apart is that it is made out of the brand’s patented 18K Everose gold. While the other current Cellini models come also with a white gold variation, the Moonphase version is only available in Everose.

Released in 2005, the material was created by Rolex in order to preserve the quality of their watches that sport a pink gold composition. It specifically combines pure gold, copper, and a hint of platinum that creates the charming pink tint that most ladies will love. However, since the color is kind of leaning towards the muted side, there is a high chance that men will also get drawn to the watch. Neatly polished in all aspects, the Everose gold does not only give the watch an irresistible appeal but also longevity. Since its composed of many elements, any wearer would not have to worry as the timepiece will surely endure slight impacts. Moreover, the exclusive pink gold alloy ensures that the watch will still look pristine — almost new — even after decades since you purchased the timepiece.

When it comes to the bezel, the Cellini Moonphase takes the win because of the great pattern it exhibits. The layers in the double bezel do not only give the watch a graceful image but also make the collection distinct among the expansive Rolex lineup. The inner part of the double bezel has a perfectly round shape, while the outer edge is placed in a fluted manner. Matching the color of the lugs and caseback, the bezel is also in rose gold color, which is extremely fun to look at in several lighting conditions.

As if the blueprint is not enough, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase also sports a tough sapphire crystal. Often used by luxury brands, this material made out of aluminum oxide and sports the same rigidity as the original sapphire stones. Rolex decided to go for this kind of crystal for their watches because of the superior hardness it boasts. This means that it will be difficult for this material to sustain scratches no matter how much impact it experiences. Unlike Hesalite and mineral crystal, this one is also clear, smooth, and reflective, which will not give you any hindrances in the time-keeping process especially if you are in bright or sunny areas. However, since the process of incorporating the sapphire crystal into the watches can be very meticulous, adding to the fact that the tools being used in furnishing it are quite rare to acquire, the products with this kind of material can be very expensive. But come to think of it, all will be worth it if you purchase a watch adorned with sapphire crystal especially knowing that it is heavy-duty and guarantees long life.

The Dial

Rolex Cellini Moonphase

As its name suggests, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase is packed with another complication — something that had been missing in the brand’s diverse lineup since the 1950s. This is called the moonphase and it is placed directly at the 6 o’clock position as a separate blue enamel dial with rose gold colored edges. The full moon shape is presented by a meteorite appliqué, while the new moon only has a silver-colored outline. Considered as a complication that serves a different purpose, the moonphase allows the user to determine the current phase of the 29-day lunar moon cycle. While the feature is already being utilized by other giants in the watchmaking world even up to the present day, Rolex decided to bring it back as a way to attract a wider range of consumers. Swaying away from its usual tradition of making little tweaks, the brand went all out in creating this model that fuses traditional and innovative techniques all at once. The fact that the company also made quite a bold move in reinforcing it in their most refined collection makes the watch even more interesting and special to own.

Bringing the overall dainty yet smart look of the watch altogether, the Cellini Moonphase’s dial is in crisp white color, while the hour and minute hands in dauphine form and baton-style indices sport a rose gold hue. Despite being numberless, the hour markers are labeled with minute markers in 5-minute increments in the middle of their placements.

Meanwhile, all of the other texts including the signature that says “ROLEX GENEVE” as well as the numbers around the circumference of the watch that serves as the date display are in black color, perfectly contrasting the strap and the feminine feel of the case. The unconventional arrangement of the dates and the minute scale that has a railroad-style layout gave the watch a retro feel to it. If you ever wonder how the date indication works, you will see a separate blue-colored hand with a crescent moon-shaped tip that changes its place depending on the current date. Despite not having luminous elements, the dial of this Rolex moonphase watch is still visible even during the night, all thanks to the beaming effect the details of the watch bring.

The Movement

Rolex Cellini Moonphase Caliber 3195 Every guide about a Rolex watch is not complete without emphasizing the essence of the movement it utilizes. Like any other watches from the renowned company, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase 50535 has a top-tier engine. It specifically relies on the in-house Caliber 3195 automatic mechanical movement. Aside from having a power reserve of 48 hours and an analog display, the movement has 31 jewels and runs on a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (“vph”).

If these do not convince you yet, the said core of the watch has been accurate for 122 years already, as reported by the brand itself. Moreover, it is also certified as a superlative chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (“COSC”). This honor is given to watches, which are highly precise, accurate, and can withstand the test of time. Not to mention, it has a precision rating -2/+2 seconds per day.

One great update about this caliber is the greater resistance to magnets, extreme temperatures, and magnetism, all thanks to its blue Parachrom hairspring. Rolex claimed that their Parachrom hairspring is 10 times more accurate than the regular hairspring you see in other models and brands when subjected to situations that involve shocks. Overall, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase is a good watch to have especially if you are looking for something you could rely on over the next decades.

The Strap

Rolex Cellini Moonphase

While you think that the charms of the Rolex Cellini Moonphase stop at the above-mentioned features, wait until you see the strap. The band of the watch is made with authentic alligator leather in a deep tobacco color, unlike most Rolex watches that are equipped with Oyster bracelets. To add, its folding clasp is also adorned with 18K Everose gold and a crown logo that matches the beauty of the case. If ever you want to give the watch a little makeover, you also have the option to have the strap changed with an aid of an authorized expert.

Rolex Cellini Moonphase Price Range

If you are planning to purchase a Rolex Cellini Moonphase, you must take note that it comes with a hefty price since it is one of Rolex’s brand new models. Plus the fact that it has a rare attribute to it makes it a hard watch to covet. The typical price tag of the Cellini Moonphase is around $25,000 USD. However, this can still change because there are a lot of Rolex stores worldwide and taxes can also be a bit heavy to bear. It will not be surprising to see if this timepiece would cost a little over $30,000 USD. Compared to the other Cellini models, this is one of the most expensive timepieces included in the fascinating lineup.

If you are just starting out with your watch collection, you might want to weigh down the pros and cons first before actually purchasing this watch. If you are a frequent traveller and like being outdoor most of the time, then the Cellini Moonphase might not be the one for you. However, if you are more of the laid-back type, whose life revolves around work and socializing, the Cellini Moonphase is an excellent choice. On top of this, you can always opt for the secondary market if you want to save up a few pennies and get a hold of this model immediately. There are a lot of sellers that offer these kinds of timepieces in mint condition and with a reasonable price of around $20,000 USD. However, you must still double-check if all the parts and inclusions are intact as it can be very distressing if you purchase a watch that has a lot of defects.

Final Thoughts

All in all, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase is the way to go if you are keen on watches that have a complication but not too overwhelming to use and look at.   Since the moonphase indication that this watch bear is considered among the best in the Rolex models, the watch makes a great addition to any collection. Besides the fact it bears an opulent poise, the Cellini Moonphase’s modern and classic design is truly excellent in all ways. Moreover, despite being the newest member of the collection, all of the features of this watch are truly admirable. It will be interesting now to see whether Rolex will release another variation of this watch in yellow gold or even white gold or if it will go against its usual norm and try another way to get enthusiasts’ attention. If they do, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase will always hold a great place in the collection’s offerings.

Want to dig deeper about Rolex’s background and know about its other offerings you can opt for? Check out our articles about Why Rolex watches are so expensive as well as the best Rolex models to buy for an investment.

Featured image and other photos from Rolex’s website unless otherwise noted.

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