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.