Rolex Cellini – 3 of the Best

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Rolex Cellini Time

Rolex calls Cellini “the classical watch.” That’s a bit cheeky. Rolex is barely 116 years old. What Rolex really means by “classical”: its Cellini watches are bland. Or, to use their words, “sober and refined.” Expensive, too. I couldn’t stay awake long enough to check the prices on all 20 models but . . .

Rolex Cellini Moonphase

the 39mm Everrose gold Cellini Time at the top of the post costs $15,200. The 39mm Everrose gold Cellini Moonphase immediately above requires a payment of $26,750.

Ignore the little heart to the left of these images. Neither watch qualifies as one of the three best Rolex Cellini. They’re both dull and derivative. Outclassed by the competition.

Jaeger-leCoultre Master Ultra Thin Small Seconds

You can buy a 39mm pink gold Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Small Seconds for $15,600 (above) or a 39mm pink gold JLC Master Ultra Thin Moon for $17,400. There’s your sober and refined dress watch.

A. Lange & Söhne's white gold, blue dial Saxonia

And elsewhere. For $25 large, A. Lange & Söhne’s white gold, blue dial Saxonia is a better made, more prestigious timepiece. Speaking of prestige . . .

New Patek Philippe Calatrava

The just announced Patek Philippe Calatravas – are “only” six grand more than Rolex Cellini’s most expensive piece. And far less likely to depreciate. Assuming you can get one, it’s a surefire high status dress watch move.

Well, sorta. There are plenty of people (i.e. the majority of humans on planet Earth) for whom Rolex is the only recognizable status symbol watch. And while you can round down to zero the number of these who’d recognize a Rolex Cellini, you can buy a thrill by saying “It’s Rolex.” NO WAY! Yes way!

If you’re going down that road, there’s only one way to go: backwards. To Rolex Cellini’s often bizarro bonkers pre-2017 watches. Cruising through chrono24.com and eBay for Cellini watches I’d wear with pride, here, finally, are my three favorite Rolex Cellini watches:

Rolex Cellini Cellinium – $7050

Rolex Cellini Cellinium

I’m a big fan of kitsch: “Art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way.” In plain English, velvet Elvis. Or this 2001 platinum-cased, mother-or-pearl dialed watch. The fact that a medical company offers automated urine screening under the Cellenium name is a feature, not a bug.

Rolex Cellini Cellinium closeup

The word Rolex is embedded and repeated round and round the dial, in the totally awesome style of Aztec hieroglyphics. The 35mm manual wind Cellini also reminds me of an all-marble bathroom.

According to chrono24.com’s chart, the pre-owned Rolex Cellini Cellenium’s price has decreased by $2k since 2013. The oddball may depreciate further but I don’t think I could appreciate it any more.

Rolex 4012 Cellini – $5,995

Rolex Cellini 4102 gold

One of the problems with vintage watches: they’re too small by today’s standards (hence all the upsized remakes). The Rolex Cellini 4102 above IS small: 30mm x 23mm. But the 1974 watch presents all kinds of interesting, eye-catching textures. And it’s gold! The Milanese-style bracelet and corrugated iron-look case combine well with the Cartier-a-like white dial.

Rolex 4012 Cellini caseback

Cellini also made the 4102 in a truly hideous variant (purple dial, leather strap). This white dial model is the perfect “surprise it’s a Rolex” Cellini – in the sense that hardly anyone knows about Rolex’s more geometric pieces (e.g., Chicago gangster Al Capone’s Rolex Prince). The 4102 is a copy of a famous design and it isn’t kitsch, but it’s definitely a statement piece.

Pocket Watch$3,905

Rolex Cellini Pocket Watch

Bet you didn’t see that one coming: a Rolex Cellini pocket watch.

This particular pocket watch dates to 1970; the brand cranked them out (albeit in limited numbers) until at least 1980. It’s a bit pricey for a modern pocket watch – given that The Pocket Watch Guy sells historical ‘Merican timepieces for the same price or less (no commission on link). But this Cellini comes with the original box, box cover, guarantee of origin, green leather case and protective pillow.

Rolex 4012 Cellini box and pillow

Pocket watches require considerable care and feeding. Although the Cellini pocket watch is relatively recent, it’s still subject to the same issues of magnetic interference, jolts and routine service, Also true: there’s nothing terribly exciting about this model’s dial – except that it says Rolex on it. The Cellini name not so much.

Thats an ongoing problem for Rolex and an opportunity for you. As long as you go back to Cellini’s past for your future watch.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I’m confused as to how the brand came about in 1986 but the pocket watch bears the same word in the same script circa 1970?
    The name itself is a problem, It not exposed to enough Italian names, it’s mispronouncable. One needs a better education than I to know who Benvenuto Cellini was. And the wikipedia entry on him mentioning sodomy accusations might not help. Nor does ROLEX being printed in all caps while Cellini is lower case cursive.
    As much as I hate the modern anti-counterfeiting branding overload, I do like that stylized text on the Cellinium dial.

    • Good question! Further research shows most sources saying that the Rolex sub-brand launched “in the 60’s” (article text amended).

      Surprisingly, there is no mention on any of the various expert Rolex sites about the first Rolex Cellini. They all seem totally smitten with the Elvis Presley King Midas. Will keep digging.

      Thanks for the heads-up!

      RF

      • I have a feeling there is a big break in the lineage, but the wikipedia entry for Benvenuto Cellini lists the Rolex line as starting in 1928 and a search with that year seems to agree. If it’s been around that long and almost nobody knows or cares, that’s shocking.

        • From the reading I’ve done, the Rolex “Bubbleback” is the pre-Submariner vintage Rolex that collectors love, and oddly enough, doesn’t get a lot of love from the “Usual Suspects” watch blogs and websites.

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