It is actually a pity that I don’t personally have more occasions to wear a timepiece such as the Rolex Cellini. Very much distinct from the famed Swiss watch maker’s more sporty products, this is the formal-blood of today’s Rolex brand. When Rolex recently debuted a brand new version of the Rolex Cellini dress watch collection in 2014, they didn’t just offer one new watch, but a trio of models that would later be further subdivided into the family of (often only slightly different) collection pieces. The simplest version of the new Rolex Cellini is the “Cellini Time,” and it indicates just the time with central hours, minutes, and seconds hands.
This particular reference 50709RBR version is near the top of the Rolex Cellini Time watch pyramid, being one of two models with a diamond-set bezel. Of course, the collection begins with the standard Rolex Cellini Time in 18k white or Everose gold that does not contain diamonds, and builds up to two diamond-set models. One such model has a reduced fluted bezel which is flanked by a thin ring of diamonds around the bezel and additional diamonds on the dial as hour markers; while the current top version of the Cellini Time is the pictured model that entirely does away with the fluted bezel in favor for a larger row of round-cut diamonds decorating the bezel. It is actually a very logical way of positioning a Rolex dress watch, if you think about it.
I’ve mentioned in the past how I place the Rolex Cellini in the category of tuxedo watches because they are not only designed to be dress watches but further intended to be formal dress watches. What is the difference? Well, a dress watch is suitable for office and other professional to casual business attire. A formal watch is of course dressy but takes things a step further, being more akin to a ballroom dress for women – specifically intended to highlight both exclusivity and celebration.
So why is the Rolex Cellini Time a solid timepiece when you want to both feel exclusive and celebrate – especially when it comes to this model with diamonds? In this context, “exclusivity” more or less means “luxury priced.” It implies that few people can own it, either because of cost or rarity. Rolex timepieces might not be rare in the context of timepieces, but the ability to afford one is rare when taking into consideration the volume of disposable income most people in general have. Even in the context of high-end timepieces, dressy Rolex watches are uncommon because Rolex buyers tend to stick with buying more traditional models such as a Submariner or Datejust before venturing out to purchase more niche models such as the Rolex Cellini.
Together with the newest models comes an increase in size, to 39mm. The newest versions are all equipped with a double bezel, fluted and then domed. The crown is a tapered fluted affair which screws down to the instance, helping it attain its 50 meter water resistant rating although these Cellini versions – since they have historically done – are one of the couple Rolex watches without an Oyster-style case. The caseback is a domed back with flutes that recalls some of those models from Rolex’s history. The lugs have more in common with people of a Datejust than they perform using a Cellini Cestello or Cellini Prince. It’s not incorrect to say that this new set feels just like Rolex is referencing the top of their background in such elegant timepieces, and further attempting to present to the consumer a dress watch for tuxedo or quite formal occasions.This collection actually resonates with me. I am a fan of vintage pieces and the background behind them. The Rolex Cellini Time feels as though it was created by a manufacture that understands their history and approaches it with reverence. Interestingly, the minute track isn’t in the edge of the dialup, but rather it bisects the hour markers. I am not sure that I’m a fan of the dial markers being divided by the minute track. If the mark weren’t so lengthy, or the minute track up to in from the borders as it is, the hands may be too brief. As executed, the minute hand reaches the minute track along with the hour hand reaches the hour markers and it feels well-proportioned.
Only a year after the introduction of this new Cellini collection, Rolex set about making new variants. The Rolex Cellini Date 50519 received a beautiful blue dial on the 18k white gold variant, and also the Cellini Double Time 50525 needed a “brown guilloche” dial alternative for the 18k Everose gold version. The Rolex Cellini Time 50505 received the most simple dial so far in either a 18k Everose golden in addition to 18k white gold case.We saw dial simplification occur with the Rolex Cellini Time with diamonds (as linked to above), but also for 2016 Rolex took it somewhat farther, providing what is, in my estimation, the most elegant model now. Even though there is profound competition among apparel watches, I am quite sure that, for a lot of people, Rolex just kind of nailed it using those cleaner-dialed Rolex Cellini Time models. In contemporary history, Rolex hasn’t been the strongest tasteful dress watch supplying, but with all these new versions of this 50505, Rolex has a very solid offering that, together with the Rolex name and quality, will make it very tough for others in the price point to compete with. It is likely to be a small battle for even Vacheron Constantin and Blancpain to compete with an offering such as this – and of course additional strong models from Chopard and Patek Philippe. While every brand has its distinct pluses, the Rolex name (and cost(really) is gonna be hard to beat for a large percentage of consumers around.
Being a Rolex Cellini owner not only implies that it is more than likely not your only watch (as explained above), but that you have ample opportunity to celebrate. Why? Because you must have some reason for wearing formal attire such as a tuxedo often enough to merit the purchase. Then again, it is possible to “dress down” a Rolex Cellini, but the question is “why?” That is especially important to ask when it comes to this Rolex Cellini Time with diamonds that is like a men’s equivalent of ball-gown jewelry. Is there a place for this watch with casual attire, or does that erode the very core personality which we associate with the most formal of dress watches?
It isn’t huge, but at 39mm wide, the Rolex Cellini is unapologetically modern in its stature. The 39mm in width is probably the new default size for men’s formal wear timepieces meant to work with sleeves and seamlessly integrate with any black-tie affair. This, of course, is best suited to the white gold versions of the Rolex Cellini while the 18k Everose takes on the role of something slightly louder given the color of the gold metal which is vastly more conspicuous that the more sober tone of white gold. Then again, add Rolex-standard diamonds to the bezel of this particular 50709 Rolex Cellini, and you increase the “noise” volume a bit more, allowing more people to notice your watch.
Diamonds on a watch are exclusively about attention. There is no other purpose for diamonds on a timepiece, and in many ways, there doesn’t need to be. Watches have comfortably been indicators of status and prestige since their invention hundreds of year ago. The best watches had decoration to prove as such, and today, that legacy continues with diamond-embellished dress watches like this. The row of stones around the bezel doesn’t add or subtract from the functionality, and all that you sacrifice here is the “mini” version of Rolex’s famed fluted bezel which has been made famous by the Datejust and Day Date collections and shows up in reduced form on the current generation of Rolex Cellini watches. Again, there is a version of the Rolex Cellini Time with both a row of smaller diamonds and an even more minimalized fluted bezel known as the Rolex Cellini 50609RBR (in 18k white gold with black dial), which in its own way attempts to offer the best of both worlds.