Stainless steel sport-luxury watches are definitely having a moment in the watch collectors' spotlight lately, but the enduring appeal of gold watches remains undeniable. Timepieces in precious metals not only project a confident aura of elegance; they also represent a tangible value that can be passed on to future generations. Of course, gold watches tend to be a much more significant investment in terms of price than watches in steel, but watch connoisseurs of more modest means have a fair amount of options as well when it comes to achieving that classic gold look, from plated and PVD-treated models to bi-material (aka two-tone) timepieces that blend some gold elements with steel. In this compilation, we'll list some of our favorites in those more budget-conscious categories as well as some recent standouts in the most popular styles: yellow-gold, rose-gold, and white-gold.
Those seeking their first gold watch may want to consider some of these gold-plated and PVD options from respected brands that are known for solid quality and attractive designs at attainable prices.
Casio Vintage Gold A168GW-9VT
Price: $65, Reference: A168GW-9VT, Case Size: 38.6mm x 36.3mm, Case Height: 9.6mm, Crystal: Resin Glass, Water Resistance: Water-Resistant, Movement: Quartz Digital
While its most iconic contribution to the watch world is undoubtedly the mega-popular G-Shock, Japan’s Casio offers different styles of digital timekeeping in its retro-influenced Vintage series, the most eye-catching of which is this gold-toned model with a rectangular resin case, a stainless steel bracelet, and an electro-luminescent backlit display screen. The watch features an array of useful functions including a 1/100-second stopwatch with elapsed times and split times, daily alarms, hourly time signals, an auto-calendar, and timekeeping options in both 12-hour and 24-hour format. Best of all, this combination of high functionality and gilded flair can be had for under $70.
Price: $185, Reference: RA-AC0002S10A, Case Size: 40.5mm, Case Height: 12mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Lug to Lug: 46.3mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Automatic
Often under the radar of American watch consumers and overshadowed by its much larger Japanese brethren, Citizen and Seiko (which with it shares a corporate connection through Epson), Orient has been making value-oriented watches in Japan since 1950. The Bambino is Orient’s dressy gents’ model, contemporary in diameter at 40mm with a domed mineral crystal. The clean white dial features leaf-shaped hands, a date at 3 o’clock, and vintage-style Arabic hour numerals. Inside is an in-house, automatic movement with a hacking seconds function and a 40-hour power reserve. All together, it spells quite a bargain for the $200 sticker price.
Seiko Presage “Cocktail Time Manhattan” SRPB46
Price: $495, Reference: SRPB46, Case Size: 40.5mm, Case Height: 11.8mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Hardlex, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic Seiko 4R35
The “Cocktail Time” series within Seiko’s automatic-only Presage family of attainable, attractive dress watches are designed to evoke the types of high-end cocktails served at Japan’s famously atmospheric rooftop bars. This model with a gold-toned steel case and a caramel-colored dial takes its nickname and inspiration from a classic Manhattan. The glossy-finish dial’s ridged, rippling edges help give it the look of a birds-eye view inside the cocktail glass; the tone-on-tone date window is a subtle but impressive bonus at this price point, as is the in-house, automatic movement inside.
Bulova My Way Gold Tone, Silver Dial
Price: $525, Reference: 97A158, Case Size: 29.5mm, Case Height: 9.05mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Lug to Lug: 47mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Quartz Miyota IL45
Bulova’s Frank Sinatra collection pays homage to the eponymous pop music legend, who owned many Bulova watches throughout his life and counted Bulova as a sponsor of his Frank Sinatra Show on TV in the 1950s. The watches’ designs are inspired by Sinatra’s 1950s-1960s heyday, when smaller, thinner watches were in vogue. The Art Deco-influenced “My Way” model in gold-toned steel features a white dial with gold and black accents, with a rectangular, railroad-style minute track, applied diagonal indexes and Arabic numerals, and a rectangular framed seconds subdial. Sinatra’s signature joins the Bulova logo near the top. Inside the Tank-style case is the Japanese-made Miyota Caliber 1L45 quartz movement, behind a Sinatra-branded caseback.
Hamilton American Classic Intra-matic
Price: $1,295, Reference: H38475751, Case Size: 38mm, Case Height: 10mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Lug to Lug: 45mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic ETA 2892-A2
The Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic series takes its historical cues from a mid-20th-century Hamilton timepiece that was one of the first to contain an automatic movement. This 38mm version has a steel case with an appealingly retro yellow-gold PVD coating. The thin baton hands on the slightly domed silver dial tell the time on thin bar indexes, which give way for a date window at 6 o’clock to balance out the vintage Hamilton logo at 12 o’clock. The case’s short lugs open up this timepiece to many wrist sizes. Inside the understated case is the dependable Swiss-made ETA 2892-A2, which automatically winds to store 42 hours of power reserve.
Junghans Max Bill Automatic Gold PVD
Price: $1,295, Reference: 027/7002.02, Case Size: 38mm, Case Height: 10mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Lug to Lug: 40mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Automatic Junghans J800.1
The Max Bill series from Germany’s Junghans is one of the unquestioned trailblazers of the minimalist, Bauhaus style of watch design, debuting in 1961 and boasting a time-tested design from their namesake, a Swiss design and architecture pioneer. The three-handed Max Bill Automatic, the flagship of the collection, comes in a 38mm case and contains the self-winding, Swiss ETA-based Junghans Caliber J800-1 with a 38-hour power reserve. This model’s stainless steel case is finished in gold PVD and its high-contrast white dial has an all-index layout with a subtle 3 o’clock date window.
Rado Coupole Classic Automatic Rose Gold 37mm
Price: $1,450, Reference: R22861115, Case Size: 44mm, Case Height: 10.2mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Lug to Lug: 43.2mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic ETA C07.611
Rado, a watch brand most known for its more avant-garde excursions into design and materials — it more or less introduced high-tech ceramics into watchmaking — occasionally delves into its archives for more classical and retro options, like the ever-popular Captain Cook and this vintage-inspired dress watch whose name (a form of “cupola”) is derived from its domed elements, which include the sapphire crystal, the dial, and even the hands. The sunray texture on the dial enhances the white dial’s charming sense of depth, and the gold PVD treatment on the case echoes the gleam of the hands and indexes. The self-winding ETA movement inside the case boasts a power reserve of 80 hours.
Frederique Constant Classic Moonphase Manufacture
Price: $3,295, Reference: FC-712MS4H4, Case Size: 42mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Automatic Manufacture Caliber FC-712
Frederique Constant has been producing Swiss-made, complicated mechanical watches at impressively affordable prices since 1992, and the Classic Moon-Phase Manufacture — which, as its name suggests, contains an in-house-made movement — is a prime example of the Geneva-based maker’s expertise. Its dial hosts a ring of classical Roman hour numerals, hand-polished, leaf-shaped hands, and a moon-phase at 3 o’clock, balanced out by a hand-type date indicator across from it at 9 o’clock. The three-part rose-gold-plated steel case has a luxurious polished finish and includes a sapphire window in the caseback to showcase the automatic FC 712 caliber, which has an array of decorations, stores a 38-hour power reserve, and allows easy adjustments of the time, date, and moon-phase all through a single crown.
Raymond Weil Maestro Moon Phase Automatic
Price: $1,175, Reference: 2239-PC5-00659, Case Size: 39.5mm, Case Height: 9.8mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Lug to Lug: 44.5mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber RW4280 (Sellita SW200 base)
Raymond Weil’s collections take their names from the eponymous founder’s love of music and musicians, and the Maestro Moon Phase Automatic is a Moonlight Serenade for the wrist. Just shy of 40mm in rose-gold-PVD-plated stainless steel, the watch has a galvanic dial with a radiating textured motif inspired by waves of musical notes pulsing through a concert hall. Additionally, the outer minute track has an engraved pattern that evokes the grooves of an old vinyl record. The moon-phase display, in a crescent shaped aperture at 6 o’clock, draws the lion’s share of interest on the dial, below the central baton-shaped hands. Hidden behind the lyrical dial but evident behind a sapphire caseback is the Sellita-based RW4280 automatic movement that powers the watch.
Mido Multifort Patrimony Chronograph Blue
Price: $2,390, Reference: M0404273604200, Case Size: 42mm, Case Height: 15.2mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic Mido Caliber 60 (ETA A05.H31)
Mido introduced the Multifort, the brand’s first watch with an automatic movement, as well as being notable for its antimagnetic and shock-and-water-resistant properties, in 1934 and has been building the collection ever since. This 42mm bicompax chronograph with a rose-gold PVD-treated case evokes the Multichrono model of 1937. Its appealing vintage details include the domed dial with tachymeter scale, faceted Sword hands, and Arabic numerals; tapered lugs and pump chrono pushers on the case; and the box-style crystal over the dial. Powering the watch is a thoroughly modern movement, the automatic ETA-based Caliber 60, offering a 60-hour power reserve.
Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Auto
Price: $1,795, Reference: H24525331, Case Size: 42.5mm x 44.6mm, Lug Width: 21.22mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic Hamilton Caliber H-10-S (ETA A05.H31 base)
Elvis Presley wore a Hamilton Ventura, the world’s first electronic watch, in his 1961 film Blue Hawaii, and the watchmaker has capitalized on its connection to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll ever since, adding a modern, openworked interpretation, called the Elvis80 Skeleton Automatic, to the Ventura series in 2021. The watch reinterprets the classic Ventura design codes with its curving triangular case, here in rose-gold PVD-coated steel. The dials feature luminous-coated, golden-toned sword hands and peripheral hour markers, and in the most recent iteration offer an added vintage-inspired flourish: a zigzagging “electric pulse” across their center line, similar to the one found on the original Ventura from the 1950s that found its way to Elvis’s wrist. The skeletonized, self-winding Caliber H-10-S is on display on both the dial and back side, offering an 80-hour power reserve.
Watchmakers continue to merge the best of both worlds — sportiness and luxury — in timepieces that combine gold and steel for an appealing two-tone aesthetic that can also serve as a transition to a full-gold watch.
Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 Steel and 18k Gold
Price: $1,850, Reference: T9314074104100, Case Size: 40mm, Case Height: 11mm, Lug to Lug: 44.6mm, Crystal: Hardlex, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Powermatic 80.111
Tissot’s stylishly sporty PRX collection has hit the sweet spot for many enthusiasts with its combination of retro charm and approachable price point. This model’s barrel-shaped stainless steel case is topped off with a fluted bezel made of 18k rose gold for an extra touch of luxury. The hands and markers on the dial are also golden-hued, along with the date window frame and the Tissot logo. The case flows into a distinctive integrated bracelet and contains within it the Powermatic 80 caliber, built exclusively for Tissot and its sister brands within the Swatch Group, which carries an 80-hour power reserve.
Tissot Gentleman Powermatic, Cream Dial
Price: $1,450, Reference: T9274074626100, Case Size: 40mm, Case Height: 10.64mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Lug to Lug: 48mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Powermatic 80.811 (ETA 2824-2 base)
Tissot’s Gentleman Powermatic 80 offers the elegance of a steel-and-gold material combo while also containing a Swiss-made automatic movement, all for a very approachable price. The watch is sized at 40mm and fits easily underneath a shirt cuff, thanks in part to its extended, downward-curved lugs that hug the wrist. The dial stands out with its crosshairs pattern at the center and Dauphine hands. The Powermatic 80.811 caliber inside the case is a modified ETA 2824 that has had its lower balance frequency lowered to 21,600 vph (from the standard 28,800 vph) to ensure an extended 80-hour reserve. Additionally, the movement’s silicon balance spring allows for increased resistance to magnetic fields as well as longer servicing intervals.
Oris Aquis Date Caliber 400
Price: $4,600, Reference: 01 400 7769 6355-07 8 22 09PEB, Case Size: 41.5mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 300 meters, Movement: Automatic Oris Caliber 400
Since its introduction in 2011, the Oris Aquis has established itself as a tentpole collection within the brand’s portfolio, with numerous versions of the core three-hand-date model upon which the series was founded, in an ever-widening variety of colorways, materials and sizes. As of 2022, this sporty line now includes a bi-metal version with a rotating bezel, hands, and hour indexes made of 18k rose gold. The bezel’s dive-scale insert is made of scratch-proof ceramic and the gradient dial is an appropriately aquatic blue tone. The model is also notable for housing Oris’s recently introduced in-house Caliber 400, with two mainspring barrels holding a 120-hour (five-day) power reserve, and boasting an extreme magnetic resistance to 2,500 gauss thanks to its use of silicon components.
Longines Master Collection
Price: $1,450, Reference: L2.722.214.171.124, Case Size: 40mm, Case Height: 9.8mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Automatic Longines Caliber L888
Since its launch in 2005, the Longines Master Collection has become its top seller, blending classical elegance with impressive build quality for the price. The reference highlighted here leans into the luxury end, with its case and bracelet predominantly in stainless steel but elegantly accented with 18k rose gold for its bezel, crown, bracelet link details, and the Longines winged hourglass emblem at 12 o’clock. The leaf-shaped hands are classically blued and the dial hosts an appealing barleycorn textured motif underpinning the painted black Arabic hour numerals and 3 o’clock date window. Ticking inside the bi-metal case is the automatic, ETA-based L888 Caliber, providing the watch’s wearer a lengthy power reserve of 72 hours, or three days.
Breitling Chronomat B01 42
Price: $12,750, Reference: UB0134101C1U1, Case Size: 42mm, Case Height: 15.1mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Lug to Lug: 50.5mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Breitling Caliber 01
The original 1948 Chronomat, which introduced the slide-rule bezel now emblematic of the Navitimer, was revamped in 1984 for Italy’s famed Frecce Tricolori aerial squadron, with a tachymeter-scale flange and “rider tabs” at the quarter-hours on the rotating bezel used to set countdown times with the built-in stopwatch. Breitling updated the design again in 2020 for a slew of new models, including this luxurious version in a steel case and bracelet with rose-gold crown, pushers, and bezel, and a blue tricompax dial with tone-on-tone subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. On the modern Chronomat models, the rider tabs are interchangeable, meaning they can be used either for tallying up or counting down the first 15-minute interval via the bezel. Inside is an in-house, chronograph-equipped movement, Breitling’s automatic B01. The hallmark Rouleaux bracelet is made of steel with intermittent rose-gold links.
TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph
Price: $6,950, Reference: CBN2A5A.FC6481, Case Size: 44mm, Case Height: 15.27mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber Heuer 02
Named for the Carrera Panamerica road race by its creator, founding family scion and former CEO Jack Heuer, the TAG Heuer Carrera made its debut in 1964 and swiftly became a trendsetter in the genre of motorsport-inspired chronograph wristwatches with its recessed subdials and minute-scale flange. This sporty-elegant two-tone model houses the automatic Caliber Heuer 02 inside its 44mm steel case, which uses rose gold for details like the pushers and crown and black ceramic for the stationary tachymeter bezel. Gold is also used for the hands and applied indexes on the three-register dial, with subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. The self-winding movement includes a column-wheel chronograph mechanism, stores a power reserve of 80 hours and winds its mainspring with a stylized rotor inspired by a steering wheel.
Rolex Sea-Dweller Rolesor
Price: $17,000, Reference: 126603, Case Size: 43mm, Case Height: 15mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 12,200 meters, Movement: Automatic Rolex Caliber 3235
Rolex added a touch of luxury to its most extreme divers’ watch in 2019 with the launch of the Sea-Dweller in Rolesor, aka a combination of Rolex “Oystersteel” and 18k yellow gold, the latter material finding a home on the rotating dive-scale bezel, the screw-down crown and the center links of the watch’s Oyster bracelet. Yellow-gold-colored text denoting the name “Sea-Dweller” appears on the dial, replacing the red text that debuted on the original model from 1967. The 1,200-meter water-resistant case features a Rolex-patented helium escape valve to regulate built-up air pressure inside its case during decompression dives. The 60-minute diving scale on the unidirectional rotating bezel is on a black ceramic insert made of Cerachrom. Beating inside is Rolex’s in-house Caliber 3235, a self-winding movement chock-full of patented technology, like the ultra-efficient Chronergy Escapement and shock-resistant, antimagnetic Parachrom hairspring, and amasses a 70-hour power reserve.
Once the most common alloy for watches but now taking a backseat to rose gold in popularity, yellow gold has made a quiet comeback in recent years. Containing both copper and silver in its mixture, it's the most hypoallergenic type of gold.
Accutron Spaceview 2020 Yellow Gold Limited Edition
Price: $19,600, Reference: 2ES7A001, Case Size: 43.5mm, Case Height: 15.9mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Proprietary Electrostatic Caliber
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the launch of the original Accutron, the world’s first fully electronic watch, this 60-piece limited edition of the Accutron Spaceview in a yellow-gold case hit the market in 2020. Like the non-limited steel models that preceded it, the watch features an innovative, proprietary movement powered by electrostatic energy generated from the motion of the wearer’s wrist. The movement’s fast-rotating twin turbines are affixed to two electrodes that power two tiny motors — one an electrostatic motor driving the smooth motion of the seconds hand, the other a step motor for the hour and minute hands — both synchronized through integrated circuits for an accuracy of +/- 5 seconds per month. The circuit-board green elements of the movement are on display in the front of the watch, framed by the 43.5mm yellow gold case that attaches to a black grained leather strap.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K
Price: $16,825, Reference: M79018V-0001, Case Size: 39mm, Case Height: 12.7mm, Lug to Lug: 47mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Tudor Caliber MT5400
Offering all the vintage-inspired elements of the original, 41mm Black Bay — “snowflake” hour hands, large rose-emblem-engraved crown, geometrical hour markers — at a more modest case diameter of 39mm, Tudor’s Black Bay Fifty-Eight collection hits the sweet spot for many contemporary connoisseurs. Named for the year 1958, in which Tudor released the Oyster Prince Submariner Ref. 7924, the most clear forerunner to the Black Bay models, the Fifty-Eight sub-family contains the automatic, COSC-certified Caliber MT5402, a slightly downsized version of the Tudor MT5602 caliber inside the larger models. In 2021, Tudor boldly ushered in precious-metal options to the Black Bay Fifty Eight family, most notably the 18K, which pairs a full yellow-gold case with a dark green dial and matching dark green aluminum bezel insert with a gilded dive scale. Mounted on a brown alligator strap, the luxurious case boasts the same 200-meter water resistance as its siblings in steel, bronze, and ceramic.
Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Limited Edition SLGH002
Price: $43,000, Reference: SLGH002, Case Size: 40mm, Case Height: 11.7mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Lug to Lug: 47mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber 9SA5
For the 60th anniversary of the very first Grand Seiko watch in 2020, the Japanese haute horolgerie brand introduced a 100-piece limited-edition that re-creates that historical model from 1960 while also debuting a new, modern in-house caliber. The watch’s 18k yellow gold case is 40 mm in diameter with widened lugs for a more solid fit on the wrist. The dial’s hour hand and hour markers are larger and more prominent than those of other Grand Seikos, as they were in the vintage piece; yellow gold is used for the hands, markers, Grand Seiko “GS” logo, and the frame around the 3 o’clock date window. The movement, the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat Caliber 9SA5, is an optimized version of the groundbreaking 9S mechanical caliber introduced in 1998, notable for its “Hi-Beat” 36,000-vph frequency and 80-hour power reserve.
Having risen in popularity as a watch material in the 21st Century, rose gold (aka pink gold or red gold) is an alloy whose warm hue is derived from adding copper to pure gold; the amount of copper added determines how "red" your watch's shiny surface will be.
Zenith Chronomaster Original
Price: $21,300, Reference: 18.3200.3600/69.C901, Case Size: 38mm, Case Height: 12.6mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic El Primero Caliber 3600
Zenith made its biggest impact on watchmaking history with its El Primero chronograph caliber, which debuted in 1969, and one of the very first watches to contain that groundbreaking high-frequency automatic movement has been resurrected for a modern audience as the Chronomaster Original. The watch’s modest 38mm rose-gold case mimics the dimensions of the increasingly collectible vintage model, Ref. A386, and the tricolor execution of the three subdials — blue, silver, and gray — has become a visual shorthand for a watch with an El Primero movement. Beating behind a sapphire caseback at a brisk frequency of 36,600 vph, the movement's integrated stopwatch function can measure times to 1/10 second of accuracy. The dial’s central chronograph hand makes a complete sweep every 10 seconds rather than 60, tallying 60 seconds at 3 o’clock and 60 elapsed minutes at 9 o’clock, while the running seconds occupy the subdial at 9 o’clock.
Nomos Lambda 39 Velvet Black
Price: $13,000, Reference: 954, Case Size: 39mm, Case Height: 9.1mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Lug to Lug: 47.9mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Manually Wound Nomos Caliber DUW 1001
Founded in 1990, just two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nomos has risen to become one of the most popular brands in German watchmaking as well as probably the most accessible to newer collectors. Its success — which includes an impressive string of German design awards for several of its products — has resulted from a combination of sensible pricing, classical Bauhaus design, and outstanding quality, as evidenced in the relatively few timepieces the brand offers in precious metal. The Lambda model showcased here, with a ruthenium-plated “Velvet Black” dial, is noteworthy for the prominent yet understated indicator for its 84-hour power reserve, a signature attribute of the in-house, manually wound DUW 1001 caliber that beats inside.
Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chrono
Price: $35,900, Reference: 295387-9001, Case Size: 44mm, Case Height: 13.15mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Chopard Caliber 03.05-C
With the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono released in 2021, Chopard pairs its certified “ethical” rose gold with ceramized titanium for the 44-mm case with elegantly integrated chronograph pushers. The gold used for the bezel, crown, pushers and caseband is sourced from an ethical supply chain that Chopard established in 2018, and the bead-blasted ceramized titanium in the crown guards and caseback is exceptionally hard and corrosion-resistant. The textured-motif “Pitch Black” dials, inspired by an eagle’s iris, represent the intense blackness of Alpine mountain nights; the theme continues on the seconds hand, whose counterweight is shaped like an eagle feather. Chopard’s chronometer-certified, self-winding Caliber 03.05-C beats inside, behind a sapphire caseback, with a column wheel to drive the chronograph functions, including a built-in flyback mechanism.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Self-Winding Rose Gold
Price: $54,500, Reference: 4500V/110R-B705, Case Size: 41mm, Case Height: 11mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 150 meters, Movement: Automatic Vacheron Constantin Caliber 5100
Tracing its aesthetic roots to a fondly remembered sport-luxury watch that Vacheron Constantin released in the 1970s — the 222, recently resurrected in a Historiques Edition — the Overseas has become a versatile and popular cornerstone of the brand’s current lineup. The most recent revamp in 2016 brought the core Self-Winding model’s overall dimensions to a slightly more restrained level — 41 mm, down from 42 mm, and a relatively slender 11mm thick. The watch’s six-sided bezel takes its cues from Vacheron’s Maltese cross emblem, as does the 18k rose-gold bracelet of this luxurious model, and in keeping with the modern identity of the Overseas, the bracelet can be easily interchanged with a blue alligator leather or blue textured rubber strap also provided by the brand. Beating behind the sapphire exhibition caseback is the movement, Vacheron’s in-house automatic Caliber 5100, whose visual signature is the 22k gold rotor which is decorated with a nautical instrument called a wind rose.
The most expensive and durable type of gold — while also somewhat ironically being the most understated, as it can be indistinguishable at a glance from steel — is for those who appreciate a "quieter" style of luxury. The alloy derives its whiteness from the use of a base metal like palladium, rhodium, or silver.
Breguet Tradition 7097
Price: $33,500, Reference: 7097BB/G1/9WU, Case Size: 40mm, Case Height: 11.8mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Automatic Breguet Caliber 505 SR1
Breguet combines classical horology and contemporary finishing in its Tradition Automatique Seconde Rétrograde 7097, with a 40-mm white gold case and a silvered, engine-turned gold dial. The symmetrical, openworked dial layout is designed to showcase the watch’s inner workings without sacrificing legibilty. The bridges for the gear train and balance wheel are positioned opposite one another in the lower half, while the pare-chute anti-shock device overhangs the balance at 4 o’clock. The mainspring is visible in the center, beneath the bottom of the hours-and-minutes subdial, with a central hobnail motif and open-tipped Breguet hands. Overlapping the subdial, from 10 to 7 o’clock, is a circular-brushed semicircle displaying the seconds scale that gives the watch its name. A blued-steel retrograde hand, mounted on a small bridge counts the seconds on the scale and snaps back at the end of each minute. Visible through a sapphire caseback is the self-winding Caliber 505SSR1, with its white-gold rotor fashioned in the style of antique pocketwatches.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold Selfwinding Chronograph
Price: $25,200, Reference: 26331BC.GG.1224BC.01, Case Size: 41mm, Case Height: 11mm, Lug Width: 23mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Automatic Audemars Piguet Caliber 2385
The “diamond dust” finish of Audemars Piguet’s frosted white gold, used here for the 41mm case of a vibrant, plum-purple-dialed chronograph within Audemars Piguet’s flagship Royal Oak collection, is achieved through a process of hammering the gold with a diamond-tipped tool to create tiny indentations — a process that dates back to ancient Florence. The dial’s violet hue is enhanced with the signature Royal Oak Grand Tapisserie texture and highlighted by contrasting rhodiumed subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. The famous octagonal bezel with visible screws has a frosted surface and polished facets, and the case flows seamlessly into the integrated white-gold bracelet that continues the hammered texture of the case. Behind a sapphire caseback, the self-winding Caliber 2385 drives the watch’s functions, its 40-hour power reserve generated by a gold rotor finished with côtes de Genève.
If gold isn't exclusive enough for you, several watch brands make their own proprietary gold alloys that are used exclusively on models within their collection. Here are a few solid examples of these "house specialty" golds.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Moonshine Gold
Price: $28,700, Reference: 310.62.42.50.99.001, Case Size: 42mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 50 meters, Movement: Manually Wound Omega Caliber 3861
Omega celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 2019 with the introduction of a proprietary precious metal dubbed Moonshine Gold, an alloy of yellow gold, silver and palladium, which was most recently used on the case and dial of a new Speedmaster “Moonwatch” edition in 2022. The so-called “gold panda” watch has a black ceramic tachymeter bezel insert and is mounted on an integrated black rubber strap with a relief lunar-surface pattern on its inner side, a visual and tactile bonus for fans of the Moonwatch and its history. Moonshine gold is paler in hue than standard 18k yellow gold and also boasts a higher resistance to its color fading over time. Omega’s Caliber 3861 is manually wound, like the one in the original Moonwatch, but has also been enhanced with a co-axial escapement and silicon balance spring, a 50-hour power reserve, and a 15,000-gauss antimagnetic resistance.
A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Honeygold Lumen
Price: $28,700, Reference: 142.055, Case Size: 41.9mm, Case Height: 12.9mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Manually Wound Caliber L043.9
Germany’s A. Lange & Söhne brings three of its signature innovations together in the Zeitwerk Honeygold Lumen, a high-horology timepiece introduced in 2021. First is its use of a “digital” time display, mechanically driven by three disks with three sets of jumping numerals; second, its semi-transparent “Lumen” dial, whose light-permeable treatment allows the numerals on the disk to glow in the dark; and third, its case made of Honey Gold, a proprietary alloy used only on Lange’s most exclusive special editions, which is harder than traditional gold alloys and achieves its warm, glossy surface from a special heat treatment. The Lumen-treated sapphire dial allows the background numerals not framed in the “time bridge” apertures to be exposed to UV light along with the ones that are, enabling them to glow a ghostly green in the background. Lange developed an entirely new in-house movement for the model, Caliber L043.9, which doubles its predecessor’s power reserve to 72 hours and boasts all the high-end traditionally Saxon decoration that the brand’s fans have come to expect.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe in Sedna Gold
Price: $25,200, Reference: 5000-36S40-O52A, Case Size: 43mm, Case Height: 13.4mm, Lug Width: 23mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 300 meters, Movement: Automatic Blancpain Caliber 1315
The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is named for the undersea vehicle invented by Auguste Piccard, which was launched in 1953, the same year that the original, historically significant Blancpain Fifty Fathoms dive watch debuted. The Bathyscaphe model takes its design inspiration from Fifty Fathoms models of the later 1950s, hosting a distinctive handset, 4:30 date window, simple geometric hour markers, and luminous dot on the bezel for orientation, a detail requested by the original models’ military clients. In 2020, Blancpain added a model with a deep blue dial and a case and bezel made of 18k Sedna gold, an extra-durable alloy of gold, copper, and palladium that is proprietary to the Swatch Group, Blancpain’s parent company. The bezel insert is made of blue ceramic with a dive scale in Ceragold, an alloy of gold and ceramic. The 300-meter water resistant case contains the automatic Caliber 1315, with a five-day power reserve.
GOLD INSIDE AND OUT:
Watches with gold cases often balance them out with a gold rotor to wind the movement. But in rare cases, the better part of the entire movement is made from gold, as in this unusual example from one of the watch industry's most boldly experimental brands.
Corum Golden Bridge Rectangle 40th Anniversary
Price: $25,200, Reference: 26331BC.GG.1224BC.01, Case Size: 29.5mm x 42.2mm, Case Height: 8.9mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 30 meters, Movement: Manually Wound Corum Caliber CO 113
Corum celebrated 40 years since the launch of its most unusual and iconic timepiece, the original Golden Bridge, in 2020. Limited to 40 pieces, the Golden Bridge Rectangle 40th Anniversary uses 18k rose gold not only in its rectangular case but in the manual-winding baguette-shaped movement that gives the watch its name, which is visible through sapphire crystals in both the front and back. The timepiece’s eye-catching, linear design leads the eye from the winding crown and spring barrel at 6 o’clock up to the escapement at 12 o’clock. “Limited Edition 1 of 40” is engraved inside the case at 3 o’clock, while Corum’s hallmark “golden key” symbol appears in a repeating pattern on the caseback window. The watch features faceted rhodium-plated hands and is mounted on a brown alligator strap with a gold triple-folding clasp.