Rolex: five letters that form together one of the most iconic brands in watchmaking history. Those same five letters also stand for the Oyster case, Perpetual movements and triple-lock crowns. Despite these ready associations in the minds of most people, none of these features are offered by the other side of Rolex; the Contemporary Prince models from the Cellini collection.
The original Rolex Prince played an important role in the history of Rolex. Even before the Oyster-case and the perpetual movements, it was this model that gave Rolex fame and established its reputation as a manufacturer of very precise and robust watches. The most distinctive feature of the Prince was the rectangular dial. where the upper part showed the hours and minute and on the lower part contained the seconds display. This was the feature that caused the watch to sometimes be referred to as a doctor’s watch, since the large and separated seconds display allowed for very precise reading of the elapsed time, especially handy for doctors using it to check a patient’s pulse. The Rolex Prince was also the very first watch created in substantial quantities that obtained chronometer certification, a key element in the strategy of Rolex-founder Hans Wilsdorf to elevate quality levels, and a key reason for the brand’s legendary reliability. The Prince was part of the Rolex-collection until it was discontinued in the late 1940’s.
In 2005 Rolex re-introduced the Prince, now as part of the Cellini-collection. This collection, dedicated to the famous renaissance sculptor, goldsmith, writer and composer, Benvenuto Cellini, is composed of dress-watches in non-Oyster cases. This fact alone is a key difference in comparison to the first Prince-collection. Back in the 1930’s, the Rolex Prince was a contemporary watch, not as, in our modern times, a dress watch per se. The decades after this period showed great and powerful innovation from Rolex. Oyster-cases, screw-down crowns, automatic movements and not to mention, metal bracelets were to became the most important ingredients on which the brand further expanded its success. Today this is also what many customers expect when they want to get a Rolex, and that makes the Rolex Prince perhaps an even more tempting choice than ever!
The current Prince largely retains similar features to the models of the past, being rectangular, with separated seconds on the lower sub-dial, and fitted with a chronometer certified manual wind movement. It size has of course grown to meet current trends, and at 45mm high and 29mm wide, it is quite substantial. This weight is balanced by the rectangle shape of the watch, and a large folding buckle. Offered only in 18K Gold, the Rolex Prince is a weighty watch, making its presence felt on the wrist. Four models are available, with two of them being in white gold, one in yellow gold, and one in Everose, Rolex own special version of pink gold in which they add the “secret” ingredient of platinum to the mix.
Unique as well is that each of the four models has the same basic shape for the case and dial, but with the details differentiated depending on the model. The yellow gold model for example, is decorated with “Clou de Paris”, while one of the white gold models has stunning “Godron Circulaire” decorations on the dial. While these touches give each model its own character, they are still clearly a family. Though in this case, one can indulge in the variety available depending on your taste. A great example of diversity in unity, which happens to also be a Rolex-trademark for decades!
The movement, caliber 7040, is of course chronometer certified, and features a hairspring with Breguet overcoil, Paraflex shock absorbers, and high-precision regulation through gold Microstella nuts. Yet this is by far not the most impressive feature of the movement. Instead it is the stunning guilloché motifs engraved in the movement to match those of the dials! It sounds trivial, but the visual impact (for example the thick and deep “rayon flammé de la gloire” on the bridges of the movement) is stunning. It also gives the Rolex Prince that little something extra, setting it apart from it’s Oyster-cased brethren. And with that noble distance, one might find that it becomes easy to make this Prince the true King among Rolexes!
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics