“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

Rolex at Baselworld 2017

Visiting Rolex always develops special expectations. Hans Wilsdorf founded the company with a marketing mind-set that was ahead of its time. The unity of brand image delivered via strongly curated timepieces and messages have given Mr. Wilsdorf’s simple “Rolex” word-play a rich meaning. The company’s developments, the colours and materials they use, the communication tones they hit and the novelties they issue are carefully watched by customers and competitors alike.

At Baselworld 2017, Rolex surprised us with the long neglected moon-phase complication in the Cellini line, celebrated the 50th birthday of the Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller and added new variations to other Oyster Perpetual models too.

Cellini Moonphase

A new moon shines at Rolex as the company revisited a complication this year that they barely produced. Only a few exceptional models in the late 40s’ and 50’s included the moon phase mechanism.

The Reference 6062 and 8171 are among the most complicated Rolex watches and are highly coveted among connoisseurs. Both share the triple date functions (month, day and moonphase) organized in a similar layout: month and day display in two neighbouring rectangular apertures and the date indicated by a hand on the periphery of the dial. The 8171 was equipped with Automatic, cal. 10 1/2”, while the 6062 Automatic, featured cal. 9 3/4”. The 8171 was slightly bigger in diameter (38mm as opposed to the 36mm of the 6062), hence the name “Padellone” (Italian for large frying pan).
There is a distinct buzz for these models and every now and then remarkable examples emerge at auctions. Phillips sold a number of rare and well-conditioned 6062 and 8171 collector pieces recently, including an extremely rare stainless steel 8171 at the Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History auction in 2016, and a beautiful 6062 black lacquered “Stelline” dial example during The Geneva Watch Auction: THREE the same year.
The Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE this May will also feature a unique „BAO DAI” Reference 6062, which is one of only three black dial models known to exist with diamond markers. The piece that belonged to His Majesty Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam, is estimated to reach beyond USD $1.5.

Therefore, it is rather exciting that more than 60 years after it ceased the production of these references, Rolex comes out with one based on its 3195 calibre. What makes this move even more interesting is that the moon phase returned to the Cellini line. Named after Benvenuto Cellini, a goldsmith, sculptor and musician from the 16th century Florence, the Cellini collection has always encompassed nice looking dress watches at the margin of Rolex’s main sellers. Models included the rectangular Cellini Prince (first edition made in 1928), the Cestello and the Danaos. The manufacture redefined the collection in 2014 with elegant round shapes and in a number of colours and finishings in three functional options: time, date and dual-time.

The handsome 2017 Cellini Moonphase is offered in 18ct Everose gold, a white lacquered dial and fluted bezel. The moon disk is blue enamelled on which a meteorite applique represents the full moon. The cycles of the moonphase module are accurate to 1 day in every 122 years. The date display is similar to that of the 6062 and 8171 – a hand sweeping scale on the circumference of the dial.

The timepiece is certified to Rolex’s Superlative Chronometer standards (-2/+2 seconds per day). Just like any other Rolex timepieces since 2015, the Cellini Moonphase comes with a 5-year international guarantee. 

Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller

It was in 1967 when the company introduced the Sea-Dweller, which already boasted Rolex’s patented Oyster Gas Escape Valve developed with Comex in the early 1960s. The French industrial deep-sea diving company performed continuous real-life tests with a Submariner model (the Reference 5514). This invention has played a key role in ensuring that the Helium penetrating the timepiece gets eliminated at a similar rate as from the human body – normally the gas dissolves from tissues faster than from a sealed watch. By using the valve, pressure gets equalised faster and the crystal does not pop-out during decompression like in the early versions.

The Sea-Dweller did not have the Cyclops magnifier lens over the date aperture, which changes with the new 60th anniversary model. Hands and hour markers glow blue thanks to the Chromalight material. The bezel has a black scratch-proof Cerachrom bezel insert and the graduations are palladium coated with a PVD treatment. The Sea-Dweller mark appears on the dial in distinctive red colour.

The timepiece received the new generation automatic calibre 3235 with Rolex’s Chronergy escapement introduced in the Datejust 41 pieces in 2016.

Other Oyster Perpetual novelties

Following the 904L steel black and white Cosmograph Daytonas, Rolex showcased two precious metal versions with the Oysterflex metal-blade enforced elastomer bracelets. The new references are made of white, yellow and Everose gold, which look cool with the polymer bracelet. The bezel is the black monobloc Cerachrom introduced last year with a golden or platinum tachymeter scale deposited via PVD process. The movement is the calibre 4130.

One piece that I fell for was the new generation Datejust 41 in 904L steel powered by the calibre 3235. It also comes with white Rolesor bracelet, which is a combination of steel and white gold links. There are a number of dial versions – I picked the grey brushed which looks sharp and feels fantastic.

Two-toned gold-steel Rolesor bracelets were combined with new Sky-Dweller models too. The updated hands and indexes fit more Chromalite luminous material and new colours were added to the dial options. Function-wise it remained the same as its predecessors – 24 hour second time zone and annual calendar, both of which are set by using the Ring Command bezel and the crown. The movement is the automatic calibre 9001.

Rolex gleamed its finest gem-setting abilities on the funky Yacht-Master 40 timepiece. Sapphires, green tsavorites and a triangular-cut diamond sit in tutti-frutti order on the rotatable bezel. The case is Everose, the lugs of which hold the Oysterflex bracelet.


Photo credits: Loupiosity.com.
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