Two-Tone Watches: Combining Gold and Steel
Two-tone watches are as popular as ever. Nearly all of the most prestigious brands offer watches in steel and gold. What's more, there are plenty of options on the vintage market, from affordable quartz watches to luxury timepieces.
5 Reasons to Buy a Two-Tone Watch
- A unique, 80s look
- Often more affordable than solid gold or stainless steel watches
- Something for every budget
- A wide range of men's and women's models
- Everything from vintage to modern watches
The Reemergence of Two-Tone Watches
Two-tone watches had their heyday in the 1980s, coinciding with many questionable fashion trends. As styles changed, they quickly faded into obscurity and became a taboo in the watch world. However, recent years have seen a resurgence of this once-maligned style.
As their name implies, two-tone watches have a case and/or bracelet made of two materials. The most common combination is stainless steel and yellow or rose gold. That being said, many manufacturers have taken to pairing stainless steel with bronze or ceramic. Top models ditch the stainless steel for white gold or platinum combined with rose or yellow gold.
There are many two-tone options for both men and women in nearly every price range. More affordable models usually feature golden PVD-coated components. If you prefer solid gold, be prepared to spend at least 1,100 USD.
How much do two-tone watches cost?
|Model||Reference number||Price (approx.)|
|Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph||5980/1AR||101,000 USD|
|Rolex Datejust 41||126333||12,000 USD|
|Cartier Santos de Cartier||W2SA0006||8,900 USD|
|Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G||79363N||6,200 USD|
|Rado HyperChrome Chronograph||R32118102||4,100 USD|
|Oris Divers Sixty-Dive 42||01 733 7720 4354-07 8 21 18||2,100 USD|
|Michele Deco Madison Mid||MWW06G000013||840 USD|
|Movado Museum Classic||0607200||750 USD|
|Bulova Classic Day Date||98C127||220 USD|
Two-Tone Classics from Rolex, Cartier, and Patek Philippe
The Rolex Datejust is perhaps the most legendary two-tone watch of all time. The Genevan luxury watch giant first introduced a two-tone edition in the 1940s. Today, Rolex offers a wide range of Datejusts in steel and gold – or what Rolex calls "Rolesor." You can purchase current models, such as the ref. 126333, for around 12,000 USD in mint condition. Vintage watches like the ref. 16013 from the 1970s require an investment of about 5,500 USD. There are also plenty of women's models available. You can call the 28-mm Rolesor Lady-Datejust ref. 279163 your own for roughly 8,200 USD.
As one of the first genuine wristwatches ever produced, the Cartier Santos is an undeniable industry icon. The Santos originally came exclusively in solid gold. Today, however, there are also several two-tone versions available, including the ref. W2SA0006. This timepiece measures just under 40 mm across and sells for around 8,900 USD new. Pre-owned pieces cost approximately 1,100 USD less. Costing around 2,500 USD, the Santos ref. 1566 from 1998 is a fantastic deal. This 29-mm watch comes with a quartz movement and looks great on smaller wrists.
The Patek Philippe Nautilus is the quintessential stainless steel luxury sports watch. However, it has also received the two-tone treatment. One example is the ref. 5980/1AR. Its prominent bezel, crown, push-pieces, and the middle links of its bracelet are all made of rose gold. The rest of this chronograph is brushed stainless steel. This timepiece demands some 101,000 USD new and 94,000 USD pre-owned. If you can do without a chronograph function, you may enjoy the ref. 3800/001. Patek released this two-hand model in the 1990s. Today, it changes hands for about 32,000 USD.
Retro Two-Tone Watches from Tudor and Omega
Tudor, Rolex's sister company, produces a wide range of two-tone watches. Recent models like the Black Bay S&G (steel & gold) and Black Bay Chronograph S&G have attracted a lot of attention. The former is available in three sizes: 32, 36, or 41 mm. You can also choose between a black or golden dial. Every model shares a yellow gold bezel and crown, as well as yellow gold middle links on its bracelet. These three-hand watches demand between 3,100 USD and 3,400 USD. On the other hand, the two-tone Black Bay Chronograph S&G costs nearly 6,200 USD.
The Omega Constellation earned its reputation as a two-tone icon back in the 1980s. Its distinctive bezel with rider tabs and integrated bracelet make this timepiece a true eye-catcher. The 38-mm men's model in steel and rose gold sells for about 6,400 USD. The 29-mm Constellation Manhattan is a beautiful women's watch and uses the same materials. It costs about as much as its more masculine counterpart. If you'd prefer a model with diamonds, be prepared to spend roughly 10,000 USD. For something more affordable, you should check out the quartz-powered editions. These watches cost around 3,900 USD.
Mixed with Bronze or Ceramic
Two-tone watches don't have to be made of stainless steel and gold. For example, Oris, an independent Swiss watch manufacturer, has been combining stainless steel with bronze for some time now. While bronze can resemble rose gold at first glance, it comes with its own unique charm. This metal develops a patina over time, making each timepiece truly one of a kind. The retro diving watches of the Divers Sixty-Five collection are especially popular.
You can choose from among numerous three-hand and chronograph models. Both versions pair a stainless steel case with a bronze bezel. The three-hand edition is available in three sizes: 36, 40, or 42 mm. It comes on your choice of a metal bracelet or rubber or leather strap. Prices depend on the size and strap and range from 1,600 to 2,100 USD. The 43-mm chronograph model changes hands for approximately 3,300 USD.
The storied Swiss company Rado is famous for its ceramic watches. This material opens the door to nearly endless color possibilities. For example, Rado combines black, white, or gray ceramic with stainless steel in the Centrix collection. Some models even feature gold PVD coating. The Hypochrome collection also contains a number of two-tone watches. A two-tone Centrix timepiece costs anywhere from 720 USD for a quartz-powered edition to around 2,000 USD for a diamond-studded automatic watch. A three-hand Hyperchrome with a quartz movement demands roughly 940 USD. The version with an automatic chronograph movement requires an investment of about 4,100 USD.
Entry-Level Two-Tone Watches
Buying a two-tone watch doesn't have to break the bank. Brands like Michele, Movado, Seiko, and Bulova offer plenty of affordable two-tone models. Of course, these timepieces use PVD-coated or gold-plated stainless steel in place of solid gold. However, that doesn't make them any less attractive.
Michele is renowned for their beautiful women's watches, including a vast array of two-tone editions. Prices for popular Deco models range from under 400 USD to over 2,000 USD depending on the movement, materials, and presence of diamonds. Movado is also no stranger to two-tone timepieces. Their legendary Museum Classic collection also contains watches that combine stainless steel and yellow gold PVD finishes. You can purchase a mint-condition Museum Classic for as little as 750 USD. Quartz-powered Bulova watches are even less expensive. Prices for these models begin at about 200 USD.