Who doesn’t love having a conversation about a helium escape valve or that extra line of text on the dial of a purpose-forward and otherwise unassuming dive watch? The concept of insider appeal exists in the guitar world, in the vintage car world, and it most definitely drives the watch world. But there’s so much more to vintage watches than subtlety, and louder pieces have an important place in our hearts – especially gold watches!
If you ask us, gold watches were dealt a bad hand by the style police for a while. These magnificent wonders went from being considered classy and upscale to being seen as overly opulent and ostentatious for a few years there. However, that’s changed! Gold is back, baby!
We love the way a vintage gold watch wears and pairs, and particularly the way it pairs with more casual looks. There’s just something cool about throwing a vintage gold watch on with jeans and a t-shirt. It’s a wink and a smile, and whether you wear it on a factory bracelet for the full effect or tone it down a little with a leather strap, a vintage gold watch offers something incredibly unique. Something we commonly hear from clients at C + T is “I don’t think I could see myself wearing a gold watch,” however that always changes the second someone throws one on the wrist and experiences it in-the-metal. We’ve seen time and again the unexpected change of heart clients have when they first throw on a Rolex Day-Date or gold Datejust – like suddenly the very thing about them that’s lost in translation in photos is silently clarified. While it might have to do with the typically smaller case sizes of vintage watches or just the way vintage gold watches look when they’ve been blessed with a bit of patina and display their years gracefully, the fact is we love them and we think most people will too if they give them a chance.
It is in that spirit that we’re here to convert you, you non-believers, you rigid collectors of steel, and you stringent tool watch devotees, to the softly glowing world of vintage gold watches. These are our 6 favorite gold watches from the current collection. They offer a variety of price points and styles, and we think they’re all lovely examples that prove that gold watches are still underrated!
We’re starting this list off with this one for a few reasons: One, it’s fucking incredible! Two, it’s really rare! Three, vintage rose gold is something many watch collectors haven’t experienced in-the-metal and has a warmth and a glow to it that is very different from the exaggerated red hue modern rose gold watches give off. This watch is an exceptionally unique take on the classic Datejust form factor; between its “dagger” marker and “alpha” handset, the beautiful and consistent patina its silver “pie pan” dial has taken on, and the way its rose gold oyster bracelet tie it all together, this is a Datejust that lives in a category of its own. We’d even go so far as to say it has the appeal of a yellow gold ref. 1803 with a slightly understated look that doesn’t exactly scream, but will still draw in eyes.
Few watches have a case design as equally beautiful and unexpected as this ‘70s Zodiac Olympos! Its sculpted and flowing, unique, and indicative of a time when watch brands were more adventurous with their designs. We love that this watch both makes a bold statement, but isn’t too over-the-top to be versatile and that it’s from a brand with a heritage as rich and important as that of Zodiac! Even with its gold-capped case and wild case design, this is a fine example of a gold watch that can be worn casually without looking out of place! And at under a grand, this watch is a steal for anyone looking to add something gold and different to their collection!
This lovely ‘70s Omega combines a 14k yellow gold case with a beautifully textured “linen” dial. It’s a no-nonsense watch with a clean, classic case design, day and date complications, and a coin-edge bezel that makes this watch pop in a really handsome way! We especially love how it looks on that green suede handmade strap! Between its classic, versatile case shape, useful complications, and the heritage of Omega, this is a gold watch that we think is very worthy of daily wear.
Very few watch marques can lay claim to the kind of heritage, panache, and tangible horological history Vacheron Constantin can, and this sculpted, square case dress watch is a brilliant example of what this brand does best. It’s timeless, it’s luxurious, it’s deeply detailed without being distracting, and it’s a watch that we believe is for the true insider that understands just what makes Vacheron so special. This watch features a design that was initially forged in 1936, but we feel in the world of gold dress watches, it’s just as relevant today as it ever was!
Most watch connoisseurs will agree that Patek Philippe not only defined the archetype, but perfected the dress watch (and its many variations). This mid-century example of a Calatrava ref. 2457 has an understated wrist presence, yet provides a feast of details up-close. This is the essential dress watch and a piece we love dressing down.
Not everyone can dig a full gold watch and while we don’t necessarily understand it, we respect it. This two-tone Rolex Datejust from 1979 is included on this list for those folks – the toe dippers, the line walkers, those that can’t quite decide. This watch enjoys the incredible versatility and perennial relevance we already love about a two-tone Datejust, but has its own thing going on because of that bold matte white “Buckley” dial. “Buckley” dial Datejusts feature applied Roman Numerals and a black handset, and we particularly love the way its tritium lume plots and handset have aged to a warm golden color and contrast with the bright white dial and deep black handset.
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