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History repeats itself: The Rolex Cellini Moonphase

cellini moonphase

It has been half a century since the last time Rolex released a Moonphase. Yet, the new Rolex Cellini Moonphase still needs to be received with the excitement and market response it deserves. Why is that the case, and why would you be wise to keep a keen eye on this model for the future? This is what we will explore today.

The History of Rolex Moonphase Complications

But first, a little history lesson. While Rolex made its name through creating robust sports watches, back before its identity was so narrowly defined, they dabbled in all kinds of timepieces. In the early fifties, two of these models were triple calendars featuring a moon phase complication.

One was the ref. 8171, nicknamed Padellone, which translates into a big frying pan in Italian due to its relatively large case size of 38 mm.

Rolex Padellone 8171
Rolex Padellone, Ref 8171, Yellow Gold, Day-Date, Month & Moonphase 1952 – Image: Source

The other was the ref. 6062, sometimes called the Bao Dai because it was the personal timepiece of Vietnam’s last emperor. Due to limited production runs and their incredible age, these timepieces can easily reach the million-dollar mark in auctions.

Bao Dai
Bao Dai Rolex Sold For More Than $5 Million At Phillips Auction in 2017 – Image: Source

The Rolex Cellini Moonphase

With this added context, why does the return of this complication in the form of the Cellini not constantly sell out? The reason lies in the name Cellini. If this watch had the words Oyster Perpetual inscribed on the dial, this would be a whole different story. Still, for some reason, the Cellini range has yet to capture the hearts of Rolex fans. This is a shame because the new Cellini models are the most oyster-esque iteration we have ever seen from the line.

The Design: A Tasteful Take on the Oyster Case

It starts with the 39 mm case. This is no strange square prince case nor a characterless dress watch case. Instead, it is a tasteful take on the oyster case. On the front, you will find a thinner version of the fluted bezel you associate with models like the date-just. The thin lugs and big crown have a similar charm to that of a vintage sub. And when you turn the watch around, you could mistake it for a bubble back.

Rolex Cellini Moonphase Watch Review 1
Image: Source

The Enamel Dial: A Beautiful Background for the Moonphase

That this is not an oyster is underscored in the beautiful enamel dial, which I consider the best dial the brand has made in the last decade. The milky smoothness of the enamel works perfectly to provide a rich background for the black font. It works particularly great in harmony with the warm hue of the rose gold version. The date hand is unique to this watch in the Rolex lineup, which is blued and looks at the end like a crescent moon.

The Highlight of the Cellini Moonphase

Central to this piece and the clear highlight is the name given, Moonphase. Unlike most competitors, however, the Moonphase disc is not hidden through a window but fully exposed, and for a good reason, as it is made with loving attention to detail. The base is made of a blue enamel disc with painted stars and a curved moon made from a meteorite. This disc is sitting on 59 teeth rotating every 29.5 days allowing for accuracy of one day in 122 years.

Cellini Moonphase 50535 007
Cellini Moonphase (Photo: Courtesy Rolex/Jean Daniel Meyer) – Source

The lack of appreciation despite the objective qualities that this watch brings with it, however, rings a bell. After all, it would not be the first watch that people failed to appreciate at the time, only to become a hit in the vintage world later.

Future Value of the Cellini Moonphase: A Vintage Hit in the Making?

Sure, you can only truly guarantee something about the future value of watches. However, the Cellini Moonphase makes an excellent case for being the watch in the future that everybody will kick themselves for having yet to pick one up. At the same time, they still went for retail prices. History repeats itself, and the Cellini Moonphase will be no exception. Bringing a unique spin in a new format of the ingredients that made Rolex great in the first place, and with the discounts offered on these models at the time of writing, this could be the biggest secret regarding a value proposition for a Rolex.

If you have enjoyed this article and are a fan of the Rolex brand we would highly recommend you check out our article titled: 29 Fun Facts About Rolex You Need to Know, along with the rest of our blog for more fun and informative articles.