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Throwback Sundays: Six Recommendations for Gold Watches from Our Archives

by Robin Lim on June 7, 2015

Since the early days of civilization, man has recognized that gold is precious. Gold, also known as the “tears of the Sun”, was used extensively to signify power and wealth. Even though the price of gold fluctuates like a roller coaster, its significance as a status symbol remains largely changed. Owning and wearing a gold watch is perhaps a sign that one has arrived. 

The effervescent Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo diCaprio) in “The Wolf of Wall Street” summed that up perfectly: “When I have to face a problem, I show up in the back of a limo, wearing a $2,000 suit, and a $40,000 gold f****** watch!”. And one assumes, perhaps the problem evaporates.

So this week, we focus on Gold Watches. Not gold plated, or rolled gold watches. Solid gold watches. Watches which we prize because it is cased in gold. 18k gold. Watches which we feel would be the perfect symbol to show the world that you have arrived. We make six recommendations.

 

Rolex Day-Date

The Reference 118205 Day Date previously owned by Eric Clapton.  Image courtesy of Phillips.

The Reference 118205 Day Date previously owned by Eric Clapton. Image courtesy of Phillips.

When it comes to watches cased in precious metal, the ubiquitous Rolex Day Date is perhaps one of the most popular choices among executives and market movers. A gold timepiece makes a strong statement, but the Day Date leaves a lasting impression. When one dons on a gold Day Date, its quite a powerful (and loud) statement that one is definitely successful in one’s chosen field.

The Day Date is a rare Rolex. It is the only Rolex which is solely available in a precious metal case. The Day Date, since its inception, was meant to be the flagship timepiece of Rolex. It was even affectionately but erroneously called the “Rolex President”. While the “President” in Rolex-speak refers to a variant of the bracelet that was fitted on the Day Date (and certain solid gold Datejust), the term has been loosely and incorrectly associated with the Day Date and have somewhat stuck.

Several famous owners of the Day Date includes Warren Buffett, Eric Clapton , and Ellen Degeneres. We featured Eric Clapton’s Day Date which came up recently for auction. Get the details here.

 

A. Lange and Söhne Lange 1

The Lange 1 is perhaps one of the most beautiful timepieces that was ever manufactured.

The Lange 1 is perhaps one of the most beautiful timepieces that was ever manufactured.

After looking at the arguably gaudy Day Date, we thought that we will talk about something that is much more subtle and restrained: the A. Lange and Söhne Lange 1.

The Lange 1 was one of the four launch watches in 1994 when Langes introduced its first collection after the revival. It still manages to stay relevant and timeless in the past two decades. This can be attributed to its simple and classy layout, with a great focus on proportions. Despite the fact that various features on the dial are placed in seemingly odd positions, the final product is akin to a symphony. The various features compliment each other seamlessly, and the final result is awesome. To be honest, there are not many watches out there that are able to achieve such success with this sort of unorthodox dial layout. The Lange 1 is definitely an icon.

The Lange 1 is also available in yellow gold, white gold, pink gold or platinum. And it is used as a base for some additional complications like the tourbillon, dual timezones, and moonphase. But we are particularly taken by the classical, traditional, original sized (38.5mm case diameter) Lange 1 in rose gold shown above. Or another recent example in the Lange 1 Lumen for something a little out of the ordinary.

 

HYT Skull

The HYT Skull. Does it reminds you of a certain superhero?

The HYT Skull. Does it reminds you of a certain superhero?

If one wants to own a gold timepiece that is provocative and stylish, one simply does not have to look any further than to HYT. One recent example is the HYT Skull. Amazing visuals, mind blowing execution. And a neat conversational piece to make one the live of the party!

We particularly like the rose gold version which is mildly reminiscent of Ironman. Like all HYT watches, it tells the time using a capillary tube that is filled with two immiscible fluids – one water based and the other oil based. The mechanics behind this retrograde hour display utilizes a unique bellows system which pumps the liquids around the capillary tube. As the liquids move in the tube, the intersection of the immiscible liquids indicate the time. An interesting twist is the conspicuous absence of a minute hand, but this is hardly missed as the spacing between hours is large enough for on to read time to the nearest few minutes.

The aesthetics and the mechanical technology needed to pull off the HYT Skull is exceptional. HYTs are suitable for those who want something unique and fun at the same time. If the Skull is not your cup of tea, then perhaps you might want to look towards HYT’s other offerings. The H1, H2, or even the new H3 might be suitable. These timepieces are unquestionably cool and conversational pieces on their own right!

 

L.U. Chopard Engine One Tourbillon

A wristshot of the Engine One Tourbillon. It looks quite fitting on the wrist, thanks to the wonderful proportions of the case.

A wristshot of the Engine One Tourbillon. It looks quite fitting on the wrist, thanks to the wonderful proportions of the case.

Following the HYT Skull, we are featuring another striking timepiece from our archive. The timepiece in question is none other than L. U. Chopard’s Engine One Tourbillon, a watch that was inspired by automobile.

The Scheufeles, who own Chopard are fanatics of vintage cars, and the Engine One is inspired from one of these magnificent Old Timers. The watch is designed around a form movement – a rectangle with two curved sides. And the dial is almost non existant, only markers printed on the under side of the sapphire crystal allow time to be read. The movement plate  is fully visible from the watch dial side, and looks like an engine block, with the price of place taken by a tourbillon at 6 o’clock. While it is a little deviant from the usual very classical designed LUC pieces, the Engine One Tourbillon still manages to retain the traditional gracefulness. It seems as though L.U. Chopard had found an equilibrium between having fun, and being classy at the same time. Not a simple task, and very well done!

The Engine One Tourbillon comes in a few variants, but we have an overwhelming preference for the rose gold version which we reviewed  here,

 

MB&F Horological Machine 3

The MB&F HM3. This particular piece is also known as the "Moonmachine", in which is it made in collaboration with Sarpaneva.

The MB&F HM3. This particular piece is also known as the “Moonmachine”, in which is it made in collaboration with Sarpaneva.

Maximillian Büsser and Friends, is one of the most intriguing independent watchmakers in the world of horology today. While we like many of MB&F’s Horological Machine (HM) series, we feel the HM3 series is epic and its commercial success to be well deserved.

The HM3 series had fascinated many, thanks to its unique looks and exceptional wrist presence. Throughout the HM3’s rather long and illustrious production lifetime, many variants have spawned. Some of the more exceptional ones include the HM3 Moonmachine  shown in the photograph above and the HM3 Megawind Final Edition “Light in Darkness”. The Moonmachine features a moonphase display, and it was a collaboration between Max Busser and Stepan Sarpaneva. The “Light in Darkness” edition, on the other hand, features a 18k gold case that is finished nicely with a special black PVD treatment. .

Certainly not the classical choice for a gold watch, but nevertheless one which is more avant garde, and perhaps dare we say, more rebellious.

 

Panerai Radiomir 1940 Chronograph

Featuring the California Dial layout would be the PAM 519. This is slightly different from the other two chronographs, but the dial layout adds a little more vintage feel to the watch.

Featuring the California Dial layout would be the PAM 519. This is slightly different from the other two chronographs, but the dial layout adds a little more vintage feel to the watch.

The final timepiece that we are highlighting today is the Officine Panerai’s Radiomir 1940 Chronograph. The 1940 Chronographs was unveiled during last year’s SIHH, and it was immediately love at first sight for us. We love the watch for its alluring looks, and how it is significantly different from the usual Panerai offerings.

The 45mm timepieces are available in platinum, white gold, and red gold. Each case variant comes with a matching dial, and they are all really stunning to behold. The movement that powers the 1940 Chronograph is Panerai’s Opus XXV, a movement that is based on Minerva’s Calibre 13-22. We thought that the incorporation of a classic movement with a vintage looking timepiece was rather neat.

We have done a review on the 1940 Chronograph, and we thought this would be a great watch for the card carrying Paneristi. The use of gold evokes a strong sense of nostalgia and old-age charm, which further accentuates the vintage feel of this timepiece.

 

Afterthoughts

Like many people, we also do strongly believe that one should own a gold timepiece when one thinks that one have achieved significant success in one’s life.

A solid gold Rolex Day Date, may be too “bling” for some – its strong brand presence and image playing negatively for some and yet being easily recognizable as a status symbol may play it up for others. For those looking to be a bit more discrete, even with a gold watch on the wrist, the Lange 1 or the 1940 Chronograph may be the right choice. And for those looking for something more individualistic, Chopard’s LUC Engine One or the MB&F’s HM3 may fit the bill. Or for those who want something even more unusual should look at the HYT offerings like the Skull. All horses for courses.

Did we recommend your favourite gold watch? Tell us your favourite gold watches worthy of a place in your collection.

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