10 Of The Best Mens Gold Watches

Why this much-maligned watch type is due a comeback - plus ten of the best gleaming beauties

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Something happens when you pass 30: those yellow gold watches that, for the longest time, you had more than a passing disinterest in, start to look cool. Maybe it's the few extra pounds that begin to settle around your midsection or the odd grey hair in your beard, but something changes when you reach your thirties that makes gold watches attractive even to those who had disavowed them years before. 

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At first you fight it. You think of your other watch-nerd friends with their steel Submariners and Speedmasters laughing at your pieces of man-jewellery. Because, as we all know, any watch that is in gold is jewellery, adorning only old men and young dandies, whereas anything in steel is a tool, there to provide utility to the manly man who wears it. But then you find the gold watch that puts a wedge in the door.

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For me, it was a Forties Universal Genève Chronograph on  a brown alligator-leather strap. OK, it was a rare Climate-proof Compax, to be specific, and while it was a good 38mm in diameter, this watch had presence. As I wore it to more events, I began to realise people were simply drawn to it. It's as if they couldn't help themselves from passing over those bulky steel divers' watches on the wrists of salesmen to this slim, almost sultry, chronograph in gold. Oh, and the fact it was worn by a man born after 1977 added to its charm (or so I've gathered). 

Such is the life of a gold-watch-wearing man. You are constantly confused with a more mature, wealthier, worldlier version of yourself. And you know what? After a little while, you might just grow into that better version of you. The thing is, from a design and economic standpoint, gold watches make a lot of sense. Few people under the age of 60 wear them; when they do, it's usually a rapper and the watch is the size of a hockey puck. But a skinny guy wearing a slim, gold watch? Now that's class. 

But, if you're like me and getting a little bigger in the midsection, greyer in the hair and more weathered in the face, a bit of golden sheen doesn't hurt. After all, you deserve a gold watch now, don't you think?  

Benjamin Clymer is executive editor of watch magazine hodinkee.com

1 | Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph

Hats off to Audemars Piguet this year, not only for re-learning to love the Eighties' favourite metal (yellow gold if you hadn't guessed) but for embracing it with all the gusto of a Texan oil tycoon, launching a "Yellow Gold" family of its octagonal Royal Oak. And JR Ewing really would have loved this fulsome beauty, its carefully polished jigsaw puzzle of bright and brushed facets rendered large.

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£45,500

2 | Bulgari Octo Finissimo

Here's a lounge lizard of a watch if ever there was one, made for prowling the Riviera dusk, chinking tumbler in one hand, a vampish blonde in the other. Like the Royal Oak, its eight-sided design, milled laboriously from one piece of gold into 110 edges and surfaces, means the metal really is showcased to its maximum brilliance.

£POA

3 | Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41

The ultimate Eighties rendition of yellow gold has to be in a "bicolour" mix with steel, and it has to be a Rolex Datejust. This year's update keeps the quite-frankly magnificent fluted bezel intact, while upping the diameter to 41mm to suit modern tastes, as well as fitting the latest iteration of Rolex's bulletproof automatic movement. That corner office beckons.

£8,450

4 | Omega Globemaster

Like the Rolex, what ticks inside couldn't be more cutting-edge – the distillation of all Omega's mechanical refinements from the past decade – but the design cues hark from a golden age, namely the Fifties, when that "pie pan" dial first launched. Chances are your father wore an Omega from around that era, and chances are that it's in yellow gold, so do the right thing and go for the same here. 

£13,670

5 | Cartier Clé de Cartier

White gold: worth it, over the virtually indistinguishable, yet far more scratch-resistant steel? That's up to you, but you can't go wrong with a Cartier either way, for holding a decent amount of value and for an interestingly shaped, but impeccably sartorial case that'll show off the material's unique lustre (and yes, it really is different from steel – just try not to scuff it up too much).

£15,400

6 | Patek Philippe ref. 5396R-012

If you're going to invest in what's arguably the ultimate, aspirational Swiss watch brand, you not only go for one of their classics – in this case an annual calendar, which need only be adjusted on February 28th, unless it's a leap year – but make sure it's in a suitably luscious rose-gold case. If the Rolex is corner-office territory, then this is early retirement to Hamptons beach-house territory.

£POA

7 | Baume & Mercier Clifton Automatic 10058

Trust Baume & Mercier, who put so many other brands to shame, to sell what's possibly the most keenly priced, solid-gold Swiss watch on the market, with a decent automatic movement thrown into the bargain as well. It's big on style too, keeping a clean and calm dial that lets the warm red gold positively hum with class.

£4,790

8 | Tiffany East West 3-Hand

Inspired by a pop-up Tiffany travel clock from the 1940s, this art-deco doozy is vintage Noo Yoik to a tee. The sideways orientation could have been gimmicky,  but while certainly a conversation point, it's particularly practical for drivers who like to have both hands on the wheel. Or the handrail of the A-train.

£9,750

9 | Vacheron Constantin Overseas

The relaunch of Switzerland's oldest watchmaker's "sports" collection, the Overseas, has smoothed its signature crenellated bezel into a more contemporary case design with silky elegance. And again, like the similarly faceted Octo or Royal Oak, the choice of rose gold makes a relatively understated but nonetheless sculptural shape glow with quiet confidence. We wouldn't recommend this one for Tuesday-night 5-a-side, though.

£POA

10 | Hublot Big Bang Unico Magic Gold

Always, defiantly, the black sheep of the Swiss firmament, Hublot likes to challenge people's perceptions of a traditional watchmaker by "fusing" cutting-edge materials with old-school mechanics. The most impressive bit of alchemy yet has to be Magic Gold, which, by genuinely fusing ceramic with 24-carat gold (in Hublot's in-house foundry, no less) yields scratchproof 18-carat gold. 

£27,800