At Baselworld 2016, Rolex introduced a few new styles of the recently re-launched Rolex Cellini dress watch collection that we debuted back in 2014 upon its release. My favorite new-for-2016 Rolex Cellini is a new dial style for the time-only “Cellini Time” model as seen here in the reference 50505 which is available in an 18k white gold or 18k Everose gold case.
To refresh your recollection, the modern blancpain quantieme complet 8 jours collection consists of three basic models. These are the Cellini Time, Cellini Date, and Cellini Dual Time. The Cellini Dual Time (hands-on here) is the most complicated of the models and is the only dual-time watch from Rolex that indicates both time zones in 12-hour format (versus their GMT watches that indicate the second time zone in 24-hour format). The Rolex Cellini Date (hands-on here) is rather straightforward and, as its name implies, offers a date dial versus a date window, as is the case on other Rolex models.
Moreover, the blancpain drivers stands out as it does not feature an Oyster case, as do most other Rolex watches. The case is similar to an Oyster, but a bit thinner and designed more for elegance versus sheer resistance to the elements. The Cellini case is 39mm wide and water resistant to 50 meters (versus the 100 meters of most Oyster cases – that aren’t diving watches). It’s slim on the wrist, and the light fluting on the dial is reminiscent of both historic Rolex timepieces as well as the ever popular more bold fluted bezels on watches such as the Rolex Datejust.
When is a Rolex not a Rolex? And no the answer isn’t, when it is a Tudor. We are actually talking about the Cellini — the most un-Rolex looking watch around.According into Rolex, this is a collection that has been developed as a celebration of Benvenuto Cellini, a goldsmith and musician who was patronised by Rome at the 1500s. Whatever the inspiration could be, what’s certain is that these watches don’t actually appear to share much DNA using their other Rolex brethren. There’s not one of the sporty aesthetic of this Oyster or Submariner, or even the more dressy Datejust or DayDate, this can be a very old-school apparel watch, pure and simple.It surely makes you re-evaluate whatever you know about Rolex. In a fantastic way.The minute track, which is usually on the exterior edge of the dialup, here bisects the indicies, which some have contended seems a little fussy, although we believe it adds an element of style interest to what could be quite a pedestrian dial. Additionally, it has a water resistance to 50m thanks to the screwdown crown and dual bezel — although we are not sure how comfortable you’d feel splashing about in this number.We also adore the elongated Roman numeral at 12, five, six and eight. It is a clever Deco-esque touch that lifts the design into the realms of actually cool.On the wrist it appears like the watch you want you might have seen on your grandparent’s dressing table. There’s a classic feel however, by taking back everything to the simplest form, you get rid of the watch’s ability thus far, which means that it also manages to feel fresh and contemporary too.
I covered the original Rolex Cellini Time watch collection here in 2014. Offering the time only with a minutes, hours, and seconds hand, the Rolex Cellini Time is, in my opinion, the most elegant of “The Crown’s” dress watch collection. Some people like complexity in their formal timepieces, but not me. I prefer to keep things simple, and extremely elegant. The original Rolex Cellini Time watches had an interesting dial design with a range of elements. A combination of Roman numeral and applied baton-style hour markers were basically bisected with a middle minute marker ring. Curious at first, the design was a very clever way of making a simple dial not appear quite as simple.
Just a year after the debut of the new Cellini collection, Rolex set about producing new versions. In 2015, they debuted the Rolex Cellini Time watch with a diamond bezel (hands-on here), and all three of the Cellini models received new cosmetic versions in 2016. What was new for this year? Well, the Rolex Cellini Date 50519 received a lovely blue dial on the 18k white gold version, and the Cellini Dual Time 50525 had a “brown guilloche” dial option for the 18k Everose gold model. The Rolex Cellini Time 50505 received the most simple dial to date in both a 18k Everose gold as well as 18k white gold case.
We saw dial simplification occur with the blancpain gmt Time with diamonds (as linked to above), but for 2016 Rolex took it a bit further, offering what is, in my opinion, the most elegant model today. While there is deep competition among dress watches, I am pretty sure that, for many people, Rolex just sort of nailed it with these cleaner-dialed Rolex Cellini Time models. In modern history, Rolex has never had the strongest elegant dress watch offering, but with these new versions of the 50505, Rolex has an extremely solid offering that, combined with the Rolex name and quality, will make it very tough for others at this price point to compete with. It’s going to be a bit of a battle for even Vacheron Constantin and Blancpain to compete with an offering such as this – not to mention other strong models from Chopard and Patek Philippe. While each brand has its distinct pluses, the Rolex name (and price, actually) is gonna be hard to beat for a large percentage of consumers out there.
These new versions of the blancpain the great wave Time remove the Roman numerals on the dial as well as the Rolex crown logo as the 12 o’clock hour indicator. Rather, the logo is moved to below 12 o’clock and applied facet-cut baton-style hour markers are used all around. Rolex gives 12 o’clock double markers to help visually orientate the dial for legibility. For me, the Rolex Cellini Time dial is a great example of effective symmetry, as well as some welcome personality and style – all in a watch meant for occasions where the wearer is all cleaned up.
Inside the blancpain bathyscaphe 38mm Time 50505 watches are in-house, Rolex-made automatic movements that operate at 4Hz (28,800bph) with about 48 hours of power reserve. Like all Rolex watches now, the Cellini models abide by the stricter “Superlative Chronometer” standards which are also known as “The Green Seal” certification. Rolex has been playing around a bit with what to call its new performance standards and I think it is wise to promote the “new meaning” of “Superlative Chronometer.” Basically, it means COSC Chronometer certification plus Rolex’s own “Rolex Certification.” The former is arguably redundant as Rolex’s standards are more stringent, requiring accuracy of -2/+2 seconds per day.
My images here are of the 18k Everose gold Rolex Cellini Time with 18k pink gold hands and markers on the white lacquer dial. There is also the 18k white gold model, which is a bit more “tuxedo” in its style. All Rolex Cellini models come in precious metal for now – and it’s unlikely that steel models will come anytime soon (or at all). I’m not a huge dress watch guy but I’ve become taken with these handsome Rolex Cellini models. Perhaps it is the fact that they are straightforward dress watches that seem to have a little fun in the design and don’t take themselves more seriously than they need to. The cursive font used to write “Cellini” on the dial (which has been done for a while) seems to suggest that to me. These are watches worn during celebrations versus when you want to be serious (and sober). Attached to the watches are brown or black alligator straps with matching gold Rolex-signed buckles. Price for the Rolex Cellini Time 50505 watch models is 14,500 Swiss francs. rolex.com