Two-tone watches offer a very particular look unlike that of any other type of luxury watch. Unfortunately, the multi-metal combination has seemingly fallen out of favor in contemporary times.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of formidable two-tone watches out there being produced by the most established brands. Some of them are horological icons, while others came to be much more recently.
In either case, the two-tone motif allows the watch to exist in the eternal retail gap between full-steel and all-gold watches. And as we highlight on this page, it can often do so quite elegantly:
You can jump straight to the watches or keep scrolling as we discuss what actually characterizes a two-tone watch.
We’ve also included a more accessible example to exhibit how the look can be enjoyed without breaking the bank.
The Best Two-Tone Watches for Men
- Rolex Datejust 36 Ref. 126233
- Tudor Black Bay S&G Ref. 79733N
- Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Full Open Ref. 51.2081.400/78.C810
- Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer Ref. 126.96.36.199.01.002
- Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph Ref. 5980/1AR
While all of the watches on our list fall under the two-tone style, the variety in brands offers an exemplary overview of how different manufacturers develop it.
Also exhibited are the many tones of gold that can be successfully paired with steel, along with diverse dial colors and textures.
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What Is A Two-Tone Watch?
The term “two-tone” is most commonly used to refer to a watch that is constructed of steel and gold. The gold in this case can refer to yellow gold or the more recently popular rose gold.
Although it could seem as if two-tone refers to any watch made of any two materials of differing hues, the term is only used with the aforementioned metals. Generally, steel will be used for the case and most of the bracelet while the bezel, crown, and bracelet center links will be crafted of precious metal.
The look has existed since the ’30s, but its most popular days were the ’80s. The cheaper steel quartz watches of the time could be made more luxurious (and pricey) while remaining less expensive than full-gold pieces.
The association of these two metals offers a unique look – more formal than the sportiest steel models, yet without the gravitas of a watch constructed completely of yellow or rose gold.
Price-wise, two-tone watches also sit between steel and gold in the catalog. Those looking for a bit more flash, and with a slightly larger budget, can find the two-tone style to serve as a perfect midpoint.
Are Two-Tone Watches Coming Back In Style?
It’s safe to say that two-tone watches have seen better days as far as popularity, but there’s been a resurgence in recent years of mixed-metal models that have garnered quite a bit of attention. So, is it too early to call it a come back?
Probably so. There’s a colossal demand for all-steel watches, particularly sports models from Rolex and Patek, which overshadow pretty much every other style.
Luckily, this has not stopped the greatest watch manufacturers from releasing two-tone varieties, many of which fly under the radar and make for outstanding timepieces. We’ve collected our favorite ones and highlighted them for you next.
Best Two-Tone Watches For Men
1. Rolex Datejust 36 Ref. 126233
The Rolex Datejust, in any of its varieties, is likely the most memorable two-tone watch model ever produced. The modern example we present here, the Oyster Perpetual Datejust 36 126233, is quite possibly the highest quality example ever seen.
The watch’s two-tone construction is referred to by Rolex as “Rolesor” – the term used by the Swiss watchmaker whenever they employ steel and gold in a watch. Naturally, both metals originate from Rolex’s own foundry, ensuring the quality of the starting metal itself.
The dial is a traditional gold dial with a sunray texture often referred to as a “champagne dial”, along with simple baton hour indices, gold center hands, and a date with cyclops at 3 o’clock.
Also trademark of the Datejust is the fluted bezel, in this case presented in 18K yellow gold and as lustrous as ever. Its sharp angles reflect light and instantly draw the eye to it, similar to the effect caused by the polished gold links of its fluid Jubilee bracelet.
An ultimate icon of sporty elegance, the two-tone Datejust reigns victorious as the best two-tone watch. Simply put, it has worn the multi-color scheme for decades, and will surely continue to do so flawlessly with its timeless look for many more to come.
2. Tudor Black Bay S&G Ref. 79733N
Tudor’s Black Bay line is one that sees a lot of daylight in the Bespoke Unit watches department. In fact, it’s quite popular all around, as evidenced by the brand’s continuous adaptations on the model.
In 2017, one of those renditions was the Black Bay S&G. The established Black Bay case would retain its shape, but its metal construction would receive an upgrade in a most alluring way.
It should be said that Tudor‘s move here was rather bold. They risked marring the reputation of the beloved Black Bay with such a significant change of direction. But much consideration was taken to ensure a good fit.
The yellow gold employed is brushed-finish, which appears dull and matches the rest of the case. Many additional elements like the Snowflake hands, the indices, center-link caps, and the dial printing are also gold.
Overall, the Black Bay S&G manages to keep the familiar and captivating essence of the Black Bay. In addition to this, it also brings in an element of luxury not previously encountered in the model line.
It works, and it works very well. Tudor has once more done an outstanding job of expanding their own boundaries and that of proven models, to the satisfaction of the unshakeable as well as the newly-gained fans.
3. Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Full Open Ref. 51.2081.400/78.C810
The Zenith Chronomaster chronograph line may be one of the most underrated models out there. This is in spite of the excellent watches that Zenith offers within the family.
The Chronomaster El Primero Full Open is one of these instances. At a single glance, the watch immediately captures your attention with its rose gold elements and sophisticated look.
A skeletonized dial reveals the historic El Primero movement beating below, though tri-color subdials are still minimally present. Rose gold indices surround the face and boast luminous and black fills, matching the center hands perfectly.
The rose gold bezel, in turn, also matches the dial elements. It’s possesses a high-polish finish which imparts an attractive and warm glow to an otherwise intricate and industrial piece.
The final touch of refinement is brought on by the glossy alligator strap, its dark brown tone pairing amicably with the rose gold. This Chronomaster El Primero Full Open can be an extraordinary two-tone watch for those willing to wander outside the realm of tennis court brands.
4. Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer Ref. 188.8.131.52.01.002
Omega‘s iconic Dive watch has seen many different versions over its decades-long production run. In this version, the watch departs from its normal utilitarian looks and gains a couple of points on the luxury scale.
Seamaster Diver purists may consider this a betrayal of the traditional watch, but Omega has taken various steps to upgrade the icon and produced a modern and beautiful timepiece.
The watch boasts a contemporary 42mm steel case with a striking 18K Sedna gold diver’s bezel. Omega has now outfitted their divers with ceramic bezels containing gold-filled numerals, resulting in what’s called “Ceragold”.
The dial is also presented in black ceramic and laser-etched with the ocean wave motif familiar to the Seamaster line. The hands at center, as well as the applied indices, are luminous and made of the same Sedna gold that characterizes the bezel.
This rose gold two-tone variety offers a different look to traditional two-tone, while still fulfilling the same purpose. A standard steel model is elevated a couple of notches by the addition of gold, resulting in a novel look that retains the aesthetic essence which makes a full-steel version so desirable.
5. Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph Ref. 5980/1AR
Patek Philippe produces some of the most magnificent timepieces ever. They also produce the Nautilus line, which has recently become the most desired steel sports watch in the entire industry.
With the Nautilus 5980/1AR, the brand has exploited the middle ground between its precious-metal complications and incredibly popular steel models.
Patek had previously offered the two-tone theme on former Nautilus models, but those were date-only examples and the gold was yellow gold. The 5980AR is the brand’s contemporary Nautilus chronograph with striking rose gold elements and a glistening blue dial.
But Patek has gone farther than just a gold bezel. The trademark flanks of the Nautilus are also executed in rose gold, as are the chronograph pushers and crown. The center links, usually in polished steel, have also been alternated to a polished rose gold.
It must be noted that the blue dial of this 5980AR is individual to this model. It is lighter than the dark blue encountered in other Nautilus models. A subtle but evidently calculated change, the dial augments the luster of the rose gold which in turn does the same for the dial.
This 5980AR is truly a special timepiece from Patek Philippe, which once more demonstrates their expertise not only in movements, but in horological design as a whole.
Affordable Two-Tone Watch
By its nature, a two-tone watch will tend to be more expensive than non-precious metal timepieces. This effect appears even more pronounced as you work your way up the price ladder.
This translates into gold-plating and powder-coating of gold onto steel in the more accessible examples. The look will be the same as that of solid gold, but any kind of coating will always deteriorate with wear, so durability is certainly sacrificed.
While the saying “you get what you pay for” rings true here, there are also high-quality two-tone timepieces that can be had for fair prices. One example of this is the Longines Hydroconquest.
Longines Hydroconquest Ref. L3.3184.108.40.206 [Affordable Two-tone Watch]
Longines takes their popular Hydroconquest dive watch and, as we observed time and time again in the above two-tone watches, the watch’s look is completely elevated by the rose gold contrasting with the steel case.
In this case, the gold is PVD and not a solid component, but this same method is what allows the watch to remain at a very aggressive price point.
Those looking to get their feet wet in the two-tone watch category without paying a premium can enjoy gold-coated models like this Hydroconquest. It allows one to get a feel for the look, get comfortable with the style, and decide if an upper-echelon two-tone timepiece is the right choice.
- Brand – Longines
- Model – Hydroconquest
- Price – $1,055
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"I am an original fan of the look of a two-tone watch. My favorite is also the Datejust. I've owned mine for over 20 years and it still feels great whenever I put it on."Rating: 5.0★★★★★