There can’t be many people who haven’t heard the name ‘Rolex’. As makers of some of the world’s most luxurious and coveted watches, they’re less of a brand and more of a status symbol. In some circles (not the kind of circles most of us mix in, granted, but one can but dream), the word ‘Rolex’ has become almost interchangeable with the word ‘watch’. Why? Because of watches like the Rolex Cellini Moonphase. First released in 2017, the Cellini Moonphase builds on the fine tradition of the Cellini (the most elegant of dress watches, in case you didn’t know) while taking the Rolex brand into altogether new and unexplored territory.
Not many watches (Rolex or otherwise) can boast astronomical complications, but the Moonphase certainly can. As beautiful as it is groundbreaking, it’s a watch that’s become one of the brand’s most desired. But what exactly do you need to know about it? What does every potential buyer need to understand before they open their wallets and welcome a new addition to their collection? Quite a lot, as it turns out. To help you through the sometimes mystifying (but always gratifying) experience of buying a new watch, we’ve put together all the things you need to know about the Rolex Cellini Moonphase, along with some of the things you should always do (and a few of the things you should never do) when buying a Rolex.
Before we look at what you need to know about buying a Rolex Cellini Moonphase, let’s take a closer look at the piece itself.
As monochrome-watches.com writes, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase isn’t a complete anomaly in the Rolex catalog. Scour its back catalog, and you’ll find several watches that can claim a relation to the Moonphase. Both the Rolex 6062 “Stelline” and the Rolex 8171 “Padellone” bear similarities to the Moonphase in terms of its style and design, featuring as they do two windows for the day of the week and the month, the date on the periphery and the phases of the moon in an off-center dial at 6 o’clock.
The Cellini line embodies elegant, classical design, and the Moonphase doesn’t disappoint. Harking back to the 1950s (the last time Rolex released a timepiece with a lunar cycle) with its supremely sophisticated face, the Moonphase displays the date around the circumference of the dial, with a center hand featuring a crescent moon at its tip to indicate the age of the moon. While most astronomical watches utilize semi-circular windows to indicate the moon phase, Rolex has chosen to go a different route. For this piece, they’ve chosen to bring in a full disk which rotates every 29.5 days.
The bezel of the Moonphase is a domed, fluted affair that, as the brochure proudly declares, ‘adds a touch of distinction’ to an already stunning piece. The delicate fluting (which Rolex obsessives may recognize from the Oyster range) is repeated on the screw-down case back, which, like watches of old, is slightly domed in shape.
You wouldn’t expect a Rolex to come with some second rate bracelet, and on that score, the Moonphase is no exception. Holding the piece together is an exquisite tobacco brown alligator leather strap with a folding Crownclasp in 18 ct Everose gold, a first for any Cellini model so far released.
At the heart of every good watch is a good movement, and the movement powering the Moonphase doesn’t disappoint. Described by boutique.humbleandrich.com ‘as an engineering marvel at its finest’, the movement claims to be accurate for over 122 years – no mean feat, by anyone’s standards. The movement itself is the “Superlative Chronometer” calibre 3195 – the same movement that’s already been used to great success in other pieces from the Cellini collection. So, what can you expect, other than a lifetime of accuracy? According to monochrome-watches.com, 2/+2 seconds per day precision, for a start, along with a 5-year warranty, automatic winding, anti-magnetic Parachrom spiral, 4Hz frequency and a stonking 48 hours of power reserve.
For the dial, Rolex has chosen to keep it simple. But simple doesn’t mean boring, at least in this context. The white lacquered dial with 18k Everose gold indexes and hands and a blued date hand is clean, understated, and oh so stylish.
In a market flooded with big watches, Rolex has chosen to buck the trend and release the Moonphase sized at a very manageable 39mm. Not only does this make it a breeze to wear, but it also fits in perfectly with the elegant, dressy style of the watch.
A Rolex is never going to come cheap. Like death and taxes, it’s one of life’s constants. But how much exactly are you going to need in your bank account if you want to add a Moonphase to your collection? To say a lot would be an understatement. Priced new to the market at EUR 24,550 – USD 26,750 – CHF 25,550, these watches are clearly not intended for customers with deep pockets and short arms.
Get to Know the Terminology
The spec of the Rolex Cellini Moonphase, like all watches, comes with the kind of terminology that leaves most people a little baffled. Most of us are pretty confident about what a hand is, and when push comes to shove, few of us would dither too much between which part is the bracelet and which part is the dial. But words like ‘bezel’, ‘crystal’, or even ‘crown’ can leave the best of us scratching our heads in confusion. But if you’re going to spend lord knows how much on a watch, you’re going to want to know exactly what it is you’re getting… and that means getting to grips with some brand new vocab.
First of all, study the spec (and if you not sure where to find it, here, in its full beauty, it is: Case: 39mm diameter – 18k Everose gold, polished, fluted bezel – sapphire crystal on the dial side, plain case back – 50m water-resistant. Movement: Calibre 3195, in-house, Chronometer certified – automatic with perpetual rotor – 4Hz frequency – 48h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date and age of the moon. Strap: brown alligator with folding clasp).
Only Buy from Official Rolex Retailers
If you’re buying new, be sure to check the seller's credentials before you hand over your hard-earned cash. Only Official Rolex Retailers have selling rights for new Cellini Moonphases, but that doesn’t stop certain dubious fraudsters trying to sell second rate imitations under the Rolex banner. If you’re not sure who’s an authorized trader and who’s a prison sentence waiting to happen, check the Rolex website for a list of boutiques in your area.
Be Prepared to Negotiate
The Rolex Cellini Moonphase costs just short of $20,000. Unless you’re sitting on a very pretty inheritance, that’s not the kind of money you want to be throwing away lightly. So don’t. Most dealers are prepared to negotiate on the price, even if it’s the fanciest boutique on New York City's 57th Street.
- Basepath.com has some great tips on negotiating a good deal, including:
- Shop Around: While you should never resort to non-authorized sellers (fake Rolex’s are all-too-common, and unless you’re particularly beady-eyed, can sometimes be hard to tell apart from the real thing), try as many of the authorized dealers as possible. If the dealer knows they’ve got competition, the higher they’re likely to go with their discount.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away: No seller has a monopoly on the Rolex Cellini Moonphase, and not every Rolex Cellini Moonphase is going to disappear if you walk away from an offer. If you don’t feel the dealer is cutting you a good deal, be prepared to walk away. There’s nothing like the sight of a turned back to get a seller to offer a discount.
Insist on a Fresh Model
If you’re on the verge of handing over your cash, stop if it looks like the dealer is about to fob you off with a display model. Not only do shop models usually have a degree of surface damage from the frequent handling they endure, but they may also have suffered some internal damage that won’t come to light until it’s too late to do anything about it. Ask for a fresh watch wherever possible.
Consider Buying a Pre-Owned Piece
If the price of a fresh-from-the-box Rolex Cellini Moonphase leaves you frothing at the mouth, there’s an alternative: pre-owned. A pre-owned Rolex can slash a good amount from the usual asking price and, providing you exercise caution, needn’t come with any added risks. But the keyword here is ‘caution’. The used watch market is flooded with counterfeits, and very clever counterfeits at that. Spotting the difference between a genuine Rolex Cellini Moonphase and an imposter is something that even the keenest eyed, most Rolex-obsessed collector can struggle with.
So, what’s someone with a tight budget and a burning desire for a Moonphase to do? For a start, do what spotthewatch.com strongly recommends and only ever buy from reputable dealers. If you see a watch on eBay, Craigslist, or anywhere else that’s advertised as “as new” and comes at a tenth of the price you’d normally pay, don’t trust it. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Equally, if the watch comes without its original box or if the seller can’t provide the original documents confirming the purchase, think twice before committing to a deal.
Watch Out for Duties
Many Rolex customers like to buy directly from the source (i.e. Switzerland). If you snap up a Cellini Moonphase either while you’re in Switzerland or by buying remotely, make sure you’re aware of the additional charges that might be applied. Even if you pay less abroad than you would at home, custom duties can add a hefty whack onto your final bill. Some buyers try to get around the problem by either failing to declare the watch at customs (not a good idea, and certainly not one we’d advocate) or by having it sent to them by mail (which also carries some risk – although most people manage the process without incurring any duties, they can still (at least technically) be applied). If you choose to import, just be aware that what you pay the dealer might not be the sum total of what you eventually pay for the watch.
Understand the Future Value
The Rolex Cellini Moonphase belongs to the Cellini line, one of the dressiest ranges in the Rolex catalog. With an aesthetic that’s characterized by slim good looks, classical elegance, and an understated approach to embellishments, the line is unquestionably a treat for the eyes. But will its value hold up in the long run? Will the money you spend today come back with bonuses if you ever decide to sell? Or is the likelihood of you ever recouping the costs on your investment slim to none? The jury’s still out. Ultimately, it’s a Rolex, and neither the demand nor the value will ever depreciate to the point you rue the day you bought one. That said, Rolex has never enjoyed quite the same kind of customer base for its “dressier” pieces as it has for its more practical, ’everyday’ watches. If you fall in love with the Moonphase and have enough cash to call it your own, go for it…. but don’t expect to be making a mint if you ever decide to sell it on.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker