Not So Mellow Yellow: The New Golden Age of Watches

Not So Mellow Yellow: The New Golden Age of Watches

Let’s face it: Yellow gold has entered a new, luxuriously golden era in the watch industry. These are the brands that have helped make this possible.

By Barbara Palumbo

While yellow gold has ruled the runways for the better part of the last decade and a half, the watch world has been slow to re-accept the precious metal, instead opting for rose gold or platinum cases and buckles.

In fact, despite vintage pieces from the ‘30s, ‘40s, and other decades in which yellow gold reigned supreme still being highly sought after, watch brands have been so hung up on white metals for so long that this generation of watch collectors may not be fully aware of just how important – and how beautiful – yellow gold watches can be.

Below are a handful of brands that have, in the last couple of years, made it their mission to change how collectors think about yellow gold. After all, you know what they say about history: It repeats itself. And in the case of watch trends, this repeat is a welcomed one.

Louis Vuitton

No, we’re not talking about Hublot, Zenith, TAG Heuer, or Bulgari (all of which are, of course, under the LVMH umbrella); we’re talking about the actual brand Louis Vuitton itself.

Why? Because the newest yellow gold Tambour, while technically released by the brand in the latter part of the spring of 2023, is still being highly praised. Plus, with awards season upon us, we can only hope that it could (and should) show up on the wrists of, say, Bradley Cooper or Pharrell Williams.

The 40mm 18K yellow gold timepiece boasts the self-winding mechanical calibre LFT023, which is a chronometer movement certified by the Geneva Chronometric Observatory and housed in a case measuring only 8.3mm thick. This watch is beautified further by its elegant white dial adorned with 18K yellow gold hands, numerals, and indices and a small seconds sub-dial.

However, it’s the integrated bracelet, with its softened finishes, that makes the yellow gold Tambour stand alone at the top the podium. Louis Vuitton went for gold on this watch release and blew away the competition.


Rolex is a brand that, to be frank, never really followed trends, which means they did not sway away from yellow gold even when steel started showing up on every wrist, practically everywhere.

Still, seeing an all-yellow gold version of an Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona in the wild is about as rare as seeing any Rolex selling online for less than 50% over its original price. But rare does not mean impossible.

So, if you cannot get your hands on an all-gold Daytona, you can always opt for the 18-karat yellow gold version of the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 “Puzzle” with its cool jigsaw pattern. (Although, I wish you luck with that, as well.)

Audemars Piguet

Another brand that has continued to put yellow gold in the spotlight is Audemars Piguet, with the most recent example of this coming in the summer of 2023 when the popular watch manufacturer collaborated with designer Matthew Williams’ fashion brand 1017 ALYX 9SM on two 18K yellow gold Royal Oaks (as well as an all-gold 42mm Royal Oak Offshore version).

The partnership between the streetwear industry megastar and the watch brand known for its high-profile clients resulted in a surprisingly subtle product. The self-winding yellow gold Royal Oak versions (one of which is a 41mm chronograph, with the other being a 37mm time-only watch) made monochromatic minimalism the main component of the watches’ outer appearance, with even the chronograph version going sans circular sub-dials.

Vacheron Constantin

You’ve likely been living under a rock if you had not heard the buzz about the release of the Historiques 222 by Vacheron Constantin at Watches & Wonders in 2022. Spotted shortly afterward on celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Michael B. Jordan, the 18K yellow gold timepiece, which pays homage to the original 1970s version, quickly rose to icon status in a brief period of time (no pun intended).

Its integrated bracelet, 37mm case size, and sub-8mm thickness make for a modern appearance. Meanwhile, the softness of the dial finishing and smoothness of the bracelet’s links add, overall, to its mainstream appeal, thus heightening its popularity amongst celebrities and civilians alike.


Once again, we have a watch manufacturer that has never truly stopped crafting timepieces in yellow gold; however, with yellow gold now, thankfully, on the rise, even older versions of popular Cartier models, such as the Santos de Cartier, are getting their day in the sun.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the men’s Santos de Cartier in both medium and large sizes, as they are a part of Cartier’s DNA as any of their most iconic collections. Moreover, the all-18K yellow gold bracelet versions in either 35mm or 40mm are gradually popping up at collector gatherings and trade fairs, and the model continues to be one we journalists love to spot.

The color yellow is often used to describe someone who is cowardly or fearful. But in the watch world of today, the meaning is certainly quite the opposite.

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