Gone are the days where gold watches are reserved for formal occasions and meant to be worn by old, grey-haired men, because gold is back in style (although, personally I don’t think it ever wasn’t).
As the title suggests, gold watches have had somewhat of a renaissance in these past few years, and it is more versatile than ever. Nowadays we see them on the wrists of increasingly younger people and in more diverse contexts – not necessarily with formal clothing.
Indeed, the all-gold watch has strayed away from its more conservative associations and has become today’s “king of cool”, effortlessly and casually standing out amongst a crowd of steel-donned wrists.
We say “effortlessly”, but this isn’t exactly the case: pulling off a low-key gold watch look isn’t always an easy task.
Firstly, gold is heavy. How heavy? Depending on how laid back you are about it, a gold case and bracelet on your wrist can be uncomfortably heavy. Not only that, but gold is eye-catching, too: as previously mentioned, it can be a little tricky to pair a gold watch and flying under the radar.
At the end of the day, it’s all up to the wearer to dress it down. Gold watches have long been considered a very “serious” accessory, reserved for formal attire, and far to “dressy” to be worn casually. In our opinion, an all-gold watch feels at home with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, just as it does with a dress shirt and a pullover.
A word of warning though: when it comes to gold watches, there is a very fine line between employing it with good taste, and simply being gaudy. Here, clothing and fashion can’t save you – it’s all a matter of attitude. When you wear it, chill out! Don’t let it get to your head, and play it cool. Remember: it is the wearer that defines the watch, and never vice versa.
Right, with that out of the way, let’s have a look at some all-gold watches that are making a comeback on the aftermarket.
Rolex Daytona 6263/6265
Many of today’s critically acclaimed Rolexes were originally designed to be used as tool watches: they served a specific purpose, and above all, adopted “function over form”. Aesthetics took second place to reliability and operation.
With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why all-gold versions of these watches are hard to come by: they simply weren’t as successful in the context of their release.
They result in being somewhat of an anachronism, in that the more conservative gold cases and bracelets undermined the “get-up-and-go” nature of the watch itself, as well as contradicting the sporty or adventurous task at hand, for which it was made.
A good example of this lies with the manually-wound Daytonas. These were watches that were made for race-engineers who needed a tool-watch to accurately and reliably time laps. These people cared very little about “looking pretty” while doing it, thus making all-gold versions of them incredibly rare.
To help put this rarity in perspective, take the 6263 and the 6265: altogehter, around 40,000 pieces were manufactured between 1969 and 1987, but of these 40,000, roughly only 5,000 were made from gold. This figure tells us two things: firstly, in these years, an all-gold sportswatch wasn’t “in”, and, if people indeed wanted an all-gold watch, they would opt for more classic styles.
Rolex GMT Master 6542
Another good example that displays this trend is the first GMT Master: the reference 6542.
Originally, Rolex envisioned the GMT Master as being the trusty companion of a frequent flyer with its second time-zone function. This model was predominantly manufactured in steel, with very few pieces in gold, which, nowadays are incredibly rare and desireable.
Currently, the value of the gold ref. 6542s far surpass those of their steel counterparts; a testament to their status and exclusivity,
The fascination behind an all-gold manually-wound Daytona is simply to strong for the steel version to match, and, as such, we would like to take the time to recognise and extend our compliments to those who took a huge leap of faith when it came to buying all-gold versions of sportswatches back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, whilst remaining tactful.
On the aftermarket, the all-gold 6263/6265s can be found from €90,000 all the way to €200,000. This large price range is mainly due to the many different dial configurations that these references come with – not to mention the usual factors of “box and papers”, and the physical condition of the piece.
With regards to the 6542, the fully gold versions have a very strange (some could even consider arbitrary) price range: asking prices begin at around €80,000, and surmount a staggering €300,000 for those with complete documentation. The latter are so rare, you could probably count the number of them in circulation on one hand.
Well, what can be said about the Rolex Day-Date? Where do we start? It is undoubtedly a style icon – not just in the watch world! First introduced in 1956, the Rolex Day-Date has been spotted on the wrists of entreprenuers, Presidents and celebrities alike: it’s basically synonymous with success.
In fact, the Day-Date’s characteristic bracelet was named the “President” due to its close links to the many politicians who wore the Rolex flagship model. The photo below shows President Lyndon B. Johnson with his personal Rolex Day-Date. (Similar to the one in the picture).
The Day-Date has always been offered in yellow gold, and this material will be forever tied to the icon. Over the years, Rolex released white gold and platinum versions of the model, to render the timepiece less “in your face” and wearable on a daily basis.
For the longest time, the Rolex Day-Date came with a hyper-formal and conservative reputation; it was though to have been made exclusively for old and rich men, to be worn with very formal attire, for equally fancy occasions. Lately, though, the tides have turned. The Day-Date has begun a new chapter, and has shed a lot of its extravagance and almost “authoritative” nature, becoming very popular amongst a younger generation, who pairs it in less formal environments.
Personally, these are the type of horological evolutions that we love to see. It has allowed the Day-Date to be apprieciated from an entirely different approach and perspective – something that no one could have ever anticipated when it was first released, let alone understand and value!
A dial for every occasion
The Rolex Day-Date is one of the most configurable watches ever when it comes to dials, too!
As well as the numerous “standard” dials, Rolex offered a large range of “precious stone” dials: Lapislazzuli, Malachite – you name it – there’s a Day-Date with it. Moreover, another peculiar dial configuration can be found on the aftermarket: the “stella” dials. These are truly beautiful works of art: they are made with a unique and vibrant coloured enamel, and are incredibly fragile, making them very difficult to come by.
This enormous variety of dials and colours make the Day-Date a truly versatile timepiece – one that can be worn for virtually any occasion and with any attire. Below is one of the most beautiful watches we have ever seen – by any metric: it’s a Rolex Day-Date ref. 18028 with a splendidly crafted Malachite dial. It’s just so wavy… take a look!
More recently: the Rolex daytona 116508.
Following the extraordinary success of the Green Submariner (ref.16610 LV and successively ref. 116610 LV), one of the most sought-after modern Rolexes ever, with figures reaching €30,000 for certain iterations (Fat Four), Rolex announced the release of the new Daytona ref. 116508 in the 2016 edition of Baselworld.
Rolex employed a very bold strategy by pairing a green dial on an all gold case (ref. 116508). Don’t get us wrong, we do love a funky combination, but with a hefty sportswatch? This was a risky move, but it worked out for the best, in fact, far beyond any expectations: the 116508 was an instant hit, with waiting lists for days (actually, years).
Props to Rolex for having dressed down an all-gold watch, and for making it not take itself too seriously. And as for the green dial, this groovy design choice was spot on when it comes to more modern tastes.
Currently, the recommended retail price for the 116508 is €35,100. However, if you fancy skipping the queue, there is a reseller premium to be had, and you’ll end up paying anything between €40,000-€48,000.
One of the first collectors to see great value in this piece was John Mayer. In his Talking Watches episode, in fact, he predicted the 116508 to be the next hot one, after expressing his appreciation towards the watch.
Apart from Rolex, we have identified the same trend with Cartier, Patek Philippe, Omega and other brands, which begin to achieve more interest from the collector’s word, causing an obvious price increasing. In the pictures below we offer you some examples. We believe that this resurgence in popularity is far from over, and that gold watches will have even more to offer in the future.
– Translated by Patrick R.