By Ken Kessler in London
Although Rolex has always offered gold, platinum and gem-clad versions of its regular models, the dressy Cellinis always seemed to belong to another maison. They were as unlike their utilitarian siblings as a hot hatch badged as a Range Rover. The trio of Rolex Cellini watches unveiled last week at Baselworld changes all that.
Rolex describes the Cellini range as exhibiting 'elegance and nobility', the name itself paying homage to Benvenuto Cellini, Renaissance goldsmith and sculptor to popes.
Prior to the new collection, Cellini models were decidedly different in Rolex terms: some slim, some square, all dressy. Although certain Cellinis offered clues to the iconic Oyster bloodline, they would be apparent only to watch pedants. The new editions could only be Rolexes… but in tie-and-tails.
Cases are offered solely in white gold or Everose, the proprietary rose gold cast by Rolex in its own foundry. Eschewing the craze for comically outsized watches - or, just as likely, acknowledging the recent trend back to normalcy - the Cellinis measure 39mm across. This is a size that Rolex says is a 'mark of tradition', while those who study such matters know it to be the most universally comfortable diameter for a man's watch.
Although the new Cellinis look enough like 'regular' Oysters to display their heritage in no uncertain terms, and are secure against water ingress to 50m, side-by-side comparisons show detail changes, especially to the lugs, which render the Cellinis lighter and more svelte.
Other details include a 'double bezel' that is part-domed and part-fluted, while the dials are offered either lacquered or with a black or a silver-plated 'Rayon flammé de la gloire' guilloché motif. Gold applique hour markers, traditional 'dauphine' hands, gold buckles and black or brown alligator leather straps complete the look.
Powering all three is a chronometer-certified, 31-jewel, self-winding mechanical movement, manufactured entirely in-house. It provides a 48-hour power reserve when fully wound.
Cellini Time is the basic model, showing only the hours, minutes and seconds. Cellini Date adds the date function in a small sub-dial at the 3 o'clock position. Lastly, Cellini Dual Time indicates the time in two time zones, while a useful 'sun and moon' day/night indicator will prevent those marriage-wrecking phone calls at 3am.
Aah, Rolex … bless 'em. Even when dressed to the nines, they remain deliriously practical.