Steel watches from brands such as Patek Philippe or A. Lange & Söhne demand a premium, however that is not true of all brands. While steel is still seen as the number one metal when looking for a watch that is more utilitarian than dress, gold timepieces have come into their own. The title may seem a little misleading because gold watches have never left us but gold wristwatches are becoming more hip than ever before. Some would say that gold used to be THE material for fine wristwatches, even pocket watches too, and in my eyes this is still the case (see what I did there?). A gold watch was the epitome of elegance in its most classic form. The image of a gold watch was harmed, somewhat, way back when they were seen as mere gifts to men for some reason or another.
Once upon a time, being gifted a gold watch was seen as a reward for a glittering, or in many cases a dull career. It was something you would associate with retirement, where the case back was inscribed with a heartfelt message befitting the retiree. But I think it is safe to say those days are gone, gold is cool again – or at least what is done with it, in my opinion. Even todays gold vintage counterparts appear to be more sought after than ever.
Gold watches have become more versatile than they ever were. Of course, the typical classic dress watch in gold is still just that but it works so much better. Then there are also the gold sports/tool watches that never really looked right in my eyes being made in such a precious metal, but it all makes sense now. When I see gold watches, I see summer – they are the ultimate summer watch.
Take for instance one of the most common Rolex gold watches around: the Day-Date on a president bracelet. The first couple of words that come to mind are “offensively ostentatious” – or maybe that’s just me. However, install a leather strap and it becomes more informal, much more relaxed, and diverts attention. But if you look at a Rolex Daytona or Omega Speedmaster, it isn’t quite the same. They’re still seemingly cool, or even more so, regardless of whether they’re on a leather strap or their original bracelet.
Looking at other watch manufacturers that are also well-known for creating the ultimate gentleman’s dress watch, such as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, or Jaeger-LeCoultre, gold timepieces produced by them now seem more popular and more versatile. Vintage examples from these brands are the gold Vacheron Constantin 4178 chronograph or a Patek Philippe 1463 chronograph – their uber cool vintage appearance can only be embraced. Not to mention their rose-gold counterparts, though some would argue these never went out of fashion and have always been vogue. The watches I’ve mentioned thus far from Patek and Vacheron in this paragraph would probably verge on the sportier type watch category. But what about dress watches like the Calatrava or Patrimony? Even these work with a more informal dressed down look.
Don’t get me wrong, gold watches have and always will be the ultimate choice for a special occasion, regardless of the attire. A gold watch works just as well with a polo shirt and chinos as it does with a suit and tie. Though I do wonder, looking at it from a different angle, have gold watches always been cool and maybe we haven’t? As we mature our tastes change and what once seemed uncool, unpopular is now the complete opposite.
Gold watches can look very nice and can look very special BUT they can also look bad taste and tacky and this is where the collector really has to be very careful. I have known people spend a lot of money on a gold watch only to later realize that their expensive purchase is too tacky to wear. Their watch looks just to showy particularly if it has a gold bracelet.
My golden rule is never buy a gold watch with a gold or even bi metal bracelet and never go larger than 40mm.
But there are of course some people who love tacky and the larger the better, but I’m afraid that’s just not me.
Times change and so do tastes, just as the article states.
I too, was once of the same view as you. Steel only for me. Now, however, I have a rose gold panerai, rose gold calibre de cartier, yellow gold GMT II and a rose gold daytona. I wear them all the time, along with my steel sub, AP, etc…in shorts, jeans or suits, it doesn’t matter.
I’m really happy with them. I’m not a tacky guy, far from it in fact. Maybe just progressive…
I agree. I like gold watches, but it is far easier to go overboard with gold in sizes where in steel there would be no problem. 40mm diameter in gold is pushing the limits and needs a thin case to not look gaudy; 38mm is more ideal in a modern round gold watch. In rectangles and tonneau cases, 40mm on the long axis is OK. Gold draws the eye more than white metals, so proportionality to the wearer matters more, and smaller gold pieces convey a look of richness and elegance.
I like this 40mm Omega Globemaster in SEDNA. Looks so dressy without appearing tacky! wow
The vast majority of my collection is steel but there is an occasion when only 18k gold will do.
I own a white gold Daytona “Racing” on a custom Everest strap that can (and usually does) pass for SS. It’s one of my favorite watches. There’s something about white gold that really appeals to me, perhaps the fact that its stealthy and it doesn’t attract unwanted attention yet it exudes class and carries the weight of gold on the wrist.
I also own a yellow gold Zenith Daytona on an gator strap. It’s a marvelous watch and a real beauty but I find there are fewer occasions to wear it. For sure it’s not as blingy as a gold watch on a bracelet (that I could never pull off) but it still makes a statement on the wrist. I’m careful where I wear it. Never the less I love the watch and always enjoy wearing it.
My only other gold piece is a Patek Calatrava. It’s a dress watch and a little small at 37mm. By far its the classiest piece I own and when I wear a suit it is my go-to watch. Rose gold with Romans seems appropriate dressed up and the understated nature of this particular reference is perfect.
I think a black leather strap is dressier than a metal bracelet. Metal bracelets are informal, such as for work or for tool or sports watches. For dressy occassions, a gold watch on a fine leather strap.
The trend of 1920 is coming
Since when the hell does Lange make steel watches? You just ruined the article from the first sentence.
thank you very much for your input.
You are correct, Lange & Söhne generally doesn’t produce watches in steel.
Nevertheless there are a few exceptions to the rule. In the past Lange has produced a very small number of watches in steel.
They are some of the most searched collectors pieces and therefore reach extremly high results when they are offered at auctions.
There are several rumours about the quantity and why they were produced in the first place but that’s still a secret today.
With best wishes
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