ROLEX fanboys often fall over themselves when it comes to the brand’s sports models. But dig deeper into the novelties and you might just discover an underrated gem... or two.
At Baselworld 2017 for instance, the 50th anniversary Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller (now in a larger 43mm case, with date magnification and powered by the new calibre 3235) and Sky-Dweller (especially the white Rolesor version, which is essentially 904L steel with an 18 ct white-gold bezel) hoarded the media spotlight.
Meanwhile, the Cellini Moonphase flew quietly under the radar, attracting mostly only the attention of those in the know.
Its been more than half a century since Rolex made a moonphase watch and the brand couldn’t have chosen a better model to reintroduce the complication.
After all, the dressy Cellini collection – which made a quiet comeback in 2014 – has always been about understated elegance, and the 39mm Cellini Moonphase in 18 ct Everose gold certainly exudes that with its modest size, refined finishing and poetic display of the lunar cycle.
The white-lacquer dial contrasts nicely with the 18 ct pink-gold hands and indices; it also allows the blue enamelled moonphase disc at the 6 o’clock showing the full moon (in meteorite, rhodium-plated) and new moon to pop.
As the full moon and new moon rotate through the lunar cycle, the moonphase can be read off an indicator located at the 12 o’clock position of the subdial.
The watch also displays the date via a centre hand with a crescent moon at the tip which points at the numerals on the circumference of the dial.
It runs on the in-house calibre 3195 and the patented moonphase module is astronomically accurate for 122 years.
A brown alligator leather strap with folding Crownclasp in 18 ct Everose gold – a first for a Cellini model – adds a touch of contemporary class, while also celebrating the timelessness of the collection.
The Pearlmaster 39’s elegance extends to its 18 ct Everose gold Oyster case, which is cast by Rolex in its own foundry; while internally, the watch is powered by the new-generation calibre 3235
ROLEX timepieces are known for their robustness but there is a more delicate side to its watchmaking craft which some may be unaware of.
To that end, the brand demonstrates its expertise in gem-setting through the Oyster Perpetual Pearlmaster 39.
Only the world’s most beautiful and perfect diamonds are selected to adorn it and Rolex has its own gemology laboratory where the quality of the precious stones are individually checked for carat, clarity, colour and cut.
For models with coloured gemstones – rubies, sapphires and emeralds – utmost care is taken to ensure the hue is consistent across the watch that the stones are set in.
The gems picked are then handed over to the in-house master gem-setters trained in the art of bringing out the stones’ natural lustre. Each craftsman is an expert at their task: bead setting, channel setting, bezel setting, and prong or claw setting.
The precise alignment of the height of the gems, their orientation and position, the robustness, regularity and aesthetics of the setting as well as the finishing of the beads all account for the mark of quality in the finished masterpiece.
The Pearlmaster’s elegance extends to its 18 ct Everose gold Oyster case, which is cast by Rolex in its own foundry; while internally, the watch is powered by the new-generation calibre 3235, which has 14 patents including the in-house developed Chronergy escapement which combines high-energy efficiency with reliability.
An optimised blue Parachrom hairspring made of exclusive paramagnetic alloy – also patented and manufactured by Rolex – is fitted to the oscillator, and is up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks.
A new barrel architecture and the escapement’s state-of-the-art efficiency means the calibre 3235’s power reserve extends to approximately 70 hours.