rolex cellini moonphase
Brian Klutch

The name Rolex, perhaps the best-known luxury brand on earth, conjures a certain type of watch: a broad, handsome hunk of steel. The steel sports Rolex dominates the mindshare of watch enthusiasts, making the Submariner, GMT-Master, Explorer, and Daytona some of the world’s most in-demand commodities. These days at your local jeweler, you’re more likely to find Hoffa’s corpse than a steel Rolex—the watches sell before they can even go on display.

This story originally appeared in Volume 10 of Road & Track.


But if you dig deeper, Rolex has much more to offer. Like the Cellini Moonphase. Patek Philippe is credited with first tracking the moon’s phases on a watch face almost a century ago, and by the Fifties, Rolex developed its own version of the complication. That’s real history in the niche of moon-phase watchmaking.

rx7 headlight windows
The downside to pop-up headlamps is that if you want to flash your lights to pass, you must first wait for the headlamp units to rotate up. In the go-go Eighties, this would never do. So Mazda added to the FC-generation RX-7 little windows in the front bumper cover through which the headlamps could briefly shine.
Brown Bird Design

Rolex’s newest version houses a striking white dial in a rose-gold case. On a subdial at 6 o’clock, the moon is indicated by an actual piece of meteorite, cut as thin as a whisker, moving about a deep blue pool of enamel representing the inky night sky. One look at your wrist tells you the moon’s current phase, even in the middle of the day.

So why buy a gold dress watch from Rolex when every hypebeast on Instagram is thirsty for a steel sports model? Well, no Submariner has a chunk of space rock on its dial, and the Cellini line pairs the famous robustness of Rolex with the elegance of the dress-watch form. A subversive Rolex—now that’s real hype.

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