Gold Watches Replacing Steel? highlighted the fact that well-heeled watch buyers are gravitating to gold. Even though the pandemic pushed gold prices to new highs, the price of entry isn’t about material cost. It’s a simple matter of perceived value. While the genre’s flexing aspect accounts for much of that perception, I’ve got to say: there’s something very special about wearing a gold watch. Here are three very special examples . . .
Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier – $29,900
Joining the insane “let’s all dump our new watches together” horological love fest known as Watches & Wonders, Cartier just announced additions to the Ballon Bleu de Cartier “men’s watches” collection. The new models are motivated by the brand’s in-house 1847 MC automatic movement. The big news: the Ballon Blue de Cartier is now available in 40mm. Right-sized news?
The 42mm gold Ballon was a bit big, a bit flashy trashy for such a delicate design (notice I didn’t say feminine). The 36mm gold Ballon lacked sufficient oomph (notice I didn’t say machismo). The new 40mm Ballon Bleu de Cartier is the just right Goldilocks size for men among men doing manly things. While the movement’s in-house bragging rights adds appeal, the BBDC’s golden glow’s the name of the game.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas – $49,100
The gold Vacheron Constantin Overseas offers a small bump in size over the Cartier (41mm) for a BIG jump in price ($20k). The Overseas puts a lot more gold into their watch than their
French Swiss rivals, and Vacheron’s 5100 automatic movement is a Geneva Seal peach. But again, it’s more about demand than troy ounces or the 172 moving parts whirring away under that gold case.
The blue dial steel VCO – the brand’s grail watch – is sold out for two years. The horological gold rush being what it is, VC’s post-pandemic workflow not being what it was, the gold three-hand Overseas has followed suit. And nothing suits a business suit like a gold watch with a blue dial – assuming you want to project the whole Master of the Universe vibe. Stunningly well made, comfortable as a warm bath, the uncomplicated gold VC is a minimalist meisterwerk in precious metal.
Elgin Scissor Hand Pocket Watch – $3795
Once upon a time, a gold watch meant a gold pocket watch, often given to an employee after years of faithful service (back when a job for life didn’t require a Congressional election). Why this Elgin has [Edward] scissor hands is anybody’s guess. A tailor? One thing’s for sure: the 18k gold case is a cut above the 1886 pocket watch of the day, a time when even the most pedestrian pocket watch was an American-made mechanical marvel well above the average working man’s budget.
This not a set-and-forget wristwatch. It’s a lever set timepiece that requires both setting expertise and careful husbandry. Shock proof? Anti-magnetic? Low maintenance? Nope. If you buy this 18k gold-cased pocket watch, you need to keep it safe. But not in a safe. It’s the kind of watch that deserves to be worn and admired, which it will be more than any gold wristwatch you can name. An unusual choice, but for those who appreciate America’s horological history it’s an heirloom for the ages.