Rolex is the ultimate deal – the jack of all trades and one could be ridiculed for saying, a master of none. When news about Rolex’s new releases breaks out, it carries a strong disrupting allure that shifts market trends and economics while setting up new hype.
In the sports watch territory, Rolex has garnered an undisputable repute and the crown’s professional watches cement its prowess as the industry’s creator of icons. However, the Rolex line-up of classic dress watches formerly defined by the Cellini collection and now evolved as the Rolex Perpetual 1908 aims to remind us that at the core of it all, Rolex is a skilled watchmaking house.
A Look Back at the Cellini
With the Cellini line-up of timepieces, Rolex dared to explore styling, decoration, and mechanical techniques rarely featured in its professional watches. It has been a part of the brand’s portfolio since the early days and it was in the 1960s that Rolex tried to give this elegant dress watch segment a definitive purpose.
Rolex Cellini has been a diverse assortment of timepieces with elegant styling and complications as a hallmark. Discontinued earlier this year, the Cellini collection evolved into the Perpetual 1908 line-up at the Watches and Wonders 2023. The departing collection was survived by a lone reference 50535, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase.
Unlike the core offerings at Rolex, the Cellini timepieces somewhat lacked a clear purpose and styling definition as the collection has been a dynamic dress watch portfolio encompassing a catch-all persona. It remained underrated and underappreciated simply held to a repute by timepieces such as the Cellini Prince, a true dress watch masterpiece in all its honesty.
Despite the enduring essence of the Cellini collection, it has remained as a subdued and rather overshadowed offering within a portfolio of icons.
The Modern Rolex Dress Watch: The Perpetual 1908
From the ruins of the Cellini rises a new collection named after the year Hans Wilsdorf first filed the Rolex trademark in Switzerland. Many predicted for 2023 Rolex releases that the Cellini collection would bow out and be replaced. What we didn’t predict was that it would be replaced with something that was almost indistinguishable from the old Cellinis or at the very least in the same stylistic vein.
The Rolex Perpetual 1908 timepieces are 39mm in yellow and white gold with display case backs. The new timepieces inspired by the 1931 Oyster Perpetual act as across-the-board replacements or evolutions of the Cellini line-up. These automatic winding chronometers come with tri-arabic numerals and a lovely modified Breguet hour hand in continuation with the elegant aesthetics. We also get a double folding clasp which is the first for a Rolex dress watch.
The sapphire case back, rarely featured in the discontinued Cellini line-up or even in the broader segment of offerings at Rolex makes a comeback. It reveals the self-winding caliber 7140 that gets golden chatons for pivot jewels, a nice vintage reference by Rolex. The bridges also feature sharp and deeply graduated Côtes de Genève striping.
Despite the fact that I gravitate more toward the movement side of this timepiece, it still feels a bit too industrial in its architecture. The caliber 7140 boasts a lower than the now benchmark 72 hours of power reserve as it is autonomous for only 66 hours and the case water resistance like the departing Cellinis remains at 50 meters.
The overall profile at 9.5mm thick is handsome but feels a little bit generic. The Rolex Perpetual 1908 is sure a very clean and handsome offering, but does the heart skip a beat on seeing one, I’m not sure. Again, the old Cellinis were nice watches that were fairly priced and well-made.
The Perpetual 1908 is also a nice watch that is fairly priced and well-made. But between the two, is the newer watch really that much more appealing, I’m not exactly sure. So, I tentatively rest my case at a maybe!
Stay tuned for more!