The Rolex Perpetual 1908: Don't Call it a Cellini

The Rolex Perpetual 1908: Don't Call it a Cellini

Rolex built an empire with the Oyster case. The waterproof wonder is responsible for the brand’s most popular models: the Submariner, GMT-Master, Daytona, etc. In 1968, Rolex diversified their catalog by re-introducing dressy non-Oyster options, introducing the Cellini Collection. Fifty-five years and 11 models later, Rolex starts anew: scrapping the Cellini in favor of this year’s 1908. The name hails from the brand's founding year. Today, we’ll look at the 1908’s specifications, significance, and differences from its predecessors.

The All New Rolex Perpetual 1908

Rolex Cellini black dial white gold

Image Source: Press Center

At 9.5mm thick, the yellow or white gold 1908 easily slides under a cuff, as any dress watch should. This profile is achieved by Rolex’s new Superlative Chronometer caliber 7140, which is visible through the exhibition caseback: a concept that’s somewhat foreign to Rolex but decades old to the watch industry. This self-winding three-hander is relatively straight-forward: it’s incredibly accurate (-2/+2 sec/day), well-finished, and has 66 hours of power reserve. The movement seems to take up most of the 1908’s 39mm diameter, which feels a touch large for the dress segment. That said, 39mm should be comfortable for most people.

Sapphire exhibition caseback of the Rolex 1908: caliber 7140

Image Source: Press Center

The 1908 features a “double bezel”. The outermost surface is fluted while the inner surface (hugging the sapphire) is domed and polished. The 1908 is set with a flared crown with soft knurling matching the fluted portion of the bezel. This harmony contrasts the 1908’s matte dial in both white and black. This textural contrast is beautiful in person: something I can write confidently as I am feet away from the Rolex booth at Watches and Wonders.

Rolex Cellini in Yellow Gold

Image Source: Press Center

The dial, hands, and furniture are the real stars of the show here. Starting from the center, we see an observatory hour hand and a sword shaped minute hand. At 6 o’clock, we have a 20-40-60 sub-seconds dial surrounded by a railroad seconds track. This subdial compliments the railroad minute track framing the entire dial. The 1908 features applied arabic numerals at 3, 9, and 12, with applied stick indices occupying all remaining hours except 6 (due to the sub-seconds dial). 

The Rolex 1908 is Not a Cellini

Rolex 1908 with black dial in yellow and white gold

Image Source: Press Center

According to Rolex, the 1908 “brings classicism to the future”. In other words, it reinterprets and modernizes Rolex’s prior examples of classicism, namely the Cellini collection. The case and crown are unmistakably similar to Cellini models from 2014 onward: this was the year that the collection was standardized. The 1908’s dial, hour hand, and Superlative Chronometer movement distinguish it from Rolex dress watches of old. That said, similarities with the Cellini will continue to be drawn. I see this 1908 as a rebirth of the Cellini, although Rolex would beg to differ. While this new watch brings a perhaps-favorable sense of familiarity, only time will tell how the model line will evolve.

Header Image Source: Press Center

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