Ahead of their big reveal this year, there were plenty of hints that the Rolex Cellini was back in town, with plenty of pundits predicting its triumphant return. They were half right. Rolex has indeed revealed a classical dress watch collection with many of the same aesthetic codes – but this is the Rolex Perpetual 1908, a genuinely new collection.
A tribute to the year ‘Rolex’ first started appearing on dials, the entire Perpetual 1908 is inspired by the first of the watchmaker’s creations to be fitted with a self-winding rotor. That means it’s about as traditional as you could hope for. That means a svelte (though still larger than the new Tudor Black Bay 54) 39mm yellow gold case with a two-tiered bezel, the top part domed and tactile, the lower part opting for that signature fluted pattern. It’s a combination we’ve seen in places like the vintage-slanted Parmigiani Toric and looks just as good here.
Dial-wise there are two versions: silvery white and black. Both have gorgeously long and slim applied indexes with Arabic numerals at 12, 3 and 9. The 6 o’clock is taken up by a small seconds subdial that’s sportier than you might expect, marked with 20, 40 and 60 on the track.
Finally we have the handset, which pairs an elegant sword minute hand with an extremely classic hour hand denoted by its ring near the tip. All in all, it’s a beautiful throwback to the early days of Rolex – and saves having to hunt for the rare surviving pieces from that era.
What’s not a throwback however is the movement. The Calibre 7140 is shiny and new for 2023 and offers some serious finishing thanks to Rolex’s spin on the watchmaking staple that is Côtes de Genève, just with a polished groove between each bar. And yes, you can see that for yourself as the Perpetual 1908 features a sapphire caseback. What, you didn’t think the platinum Daytona would be the only one?
The Perpetual 1908 also houses a Syloxi hairspring, an advancement on Rolex’s staple Parachrom number with updated (and patented) geometry for more regularity across positions. Combine that with the Paraflex shock absorbers and Chronergy escapement and you have yet another horological ante upped. Oh and it has a 66-hour power reserve, in case you were wondering.
Available on a leather strap – because what else would an early 1900s-based timepiece have? – and Superlative Chronometer certified, the Rolex Perpetual 1908 is more than welcome; it’s a relief. Not only is this the beginning of a new collection, but it’s one that I can’t wait to get on my wrist. Cellini is dead; long live the Perpetual 1908.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Rolex Perpetual 1908
- Ref: 52508 (yellow gold)
52509 (white gold)
- Case/dial: 39mm diameter x 9.5mm thickness, 18k white gold or 18k yellow gold case with intense black or white dial
- Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
- Movement: Rolex calibre 7140, automatic, 38 jewels
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve: 66h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
- Strap: Matte black alligator leather with green calfskin leather lining
- Price/availability: £18,500 (yellow gold) and £19,600 (white gold)
More details at Rolex.