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03/20/2018
 6 minutes

Expensive, Impractical, but Very Cool: Gold Sports Watches Gold sports watches: redefining the gold standard forever

By Jorg Weppelink
20

Expensive, Impractical, but Very Cool: Gold Sports Watches

So you have finally made up your mind. Your next watch will be a full-on golden watch. Will you go for a classic yellow gold dress watch? What about a gold sports watch? Some may argue that sports watches are, by definition, practical and that’s why gold watches are out of place in the sports watch category. But such thinking seems totally outdated: There are plenty of gold sports watches that have become accepted classics while others might be forgotten gems, and new brands are redefining what a gold sports watch can be. Let’s find out what some of the modern iconic gold sports watches are and describe a sports-related situation you could wear them in.

Rolex Yacht-Master

Rolex first introduced the Yacht-Master at Baselworld in 1992 in 18k yellow gold with a white dial. It was a special watch at the time because it was the first truly new Rolex watch model to be introduced since the Rolex Daytona was launched in 1964. The watch was created as a luxurious Rolex sports watch to celebrate the brand’s longstanding connection with sailing.

The most iconic version of the Yacht-Master was introduced in 1999 when Rolex presented the Rolesium version of the watch. This is Rolex-speak for watches made of stainless steel and platinum. In 2005, Rolex also introduced the Rolesor – meaning gold and steel – version. But we’re here to celebrate the full yellow gold version of the watch, which also happens to be the original. While it might not be the only option, it definitely is the way Rolex first intended it to be.

If you are looking for a new Rolex Yacht-Master, you might be disappointed to hear that the current version is not available in yellow gold. So, in order to buy one, you will have to get your hands on a pre-owned model. Or, if you insist on having a new one, you could opt for the toned down but equally beautiful Everose gold version with a matte black dial and bezel on a black Oysterflex strap or choose the Rolex Yacht-Master II. It’s the Yacht-Master’s bigger brother that is available entirely in yellow gold.

Which brings us to what occasion you can wear the golden Rolex Yacht-Master to. Rolex has defined it in a way we can’t help but agree with: You can wear a gold Yacht-Master on deck of a boat on the open seas or in the yacht club lounge while having lunch. We all know which situation you are more likely to find one in.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo”, Image: FratelloWatches

Our second option for a full gold sports watch has to be the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ in yellow gold. The Royal Oak is one of the most iconic watches in existence and was introduced in 1972 as the true luxury sports watch. For the Royal Oak Jumbo, a full yellow gold version is special since it has not been a standard feature in the Royal Oak collection over the years. There have been many yellow gold models of the Royal Oak, but the ‘Jumbo’ version has only been released in limited numbers since it first launched in 1977. This first full yellow gold version (ref. 5402BA) was sold until the early 1980’s. Trying to get your hands on one will be tough, as these are highly sought after.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Gold, Image: Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ultra-Thin “Jumbo”, Image: Audemars Piguet

It wasn’t until 1992 that Audemars Piguet released another yellow gold version of the Royal Oak Jumbo. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original watch, Audemars Piguet released 1,000 pieces, of which 280 were in yellow gold. You could get one of these anniversary editions until the year 2000, which now sounds ridiculous. In 2012, Audemars Piguet again released the Royal Oak Jumbo to celebrate the 40th anniversary. This time, however, they decided to go for a steel version and a rose gold version. It wasn’t until 2017 that Audemars Piguet decided to introduce a new yellow gold version of the watch, which is available with a blue or a gold dial.

Seeing as the Royal Oak Jumbo in stainless steel is already a watch that people will notice, the gold versions will be flashy to say the least. But not flashy in a bad way. You are wearing a piece of design history that was meant to be the epitome in luxury sports watches, and people who know watches will recognize it as such. So go ahead and wear it while drinking a nice cocktail on the Argentinian polo grounds and watching the players battle it out in the arena.

IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph

IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph, Image: IWC Schaffhausen
IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph, Image: IWC Schaffhausen

The IWC Portugieser line of products has always been connected to the nautical theme in some way. In 1939, two Portuguese business men asked IWC to produce a wristwatch that could match the precision of a marine chronometer. So the nautical DNA was established at the birth of the watch. Over the years, the Portugieser series has become the one of the brand’s most successful lines of watches with an ever increasing number of different models.

The initial version of the Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph was introduced in 2010 and was praised highly for its more modern and sporty design compared to regular Portugieser family and the incredible IWC in-house movement. Looking into the past, it’s easy to see that the original vintage Yacht Club and Yacht Club II are no less outstanding. Even though they look very different, they all share sporty and rugged characteristics.

IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph, Image: IWC Schaffhausen
IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph, Image: IWC Schaffhausen

The current version of the Yacht Club Chronograph that was introduced in 2015, has a 43.5-mm case, and therefore is slightly larger than the regular Portugieser Chronograph. The rose gold version of the Yacht Club Chronograph is the perfect example of a classy gold watch that has all the trademarks of a modern sports watch based on a classic watch. The case shape is more straightforward, the layout more modern, and the rubber strap in particular make this watch the sportiest in the Portugieser family, thus creating an understated gold sports watch that you could wear to many occasions.

The sports situation in which to wear it is quite obvious: IWC has had a strong connection to sailing over the years and was the official timekeeper of the Volvo Ocean Race for a number of years. The rose gold Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph is, therefore, the perfect watch to wear while sailing the Mediterranean and then at night at dinner in one of the beautiful ports where you have docked.

Richard Mille RM 11

This article would not be complete without discussing a watch from Richard Mille. Richard Mille as a brand has redefined what a high-end luxury sports watch can be. It also has an impeccable track record of world-famous athletes wearing their Richard Mille watches while performing at the highest level. From golfer Bubba Watson to sprinter Yohan Blake to tennis player Rafael Nadal and Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa, Richard Mille has shown it is possible to create highly complicated and lightweight watches that can be worn while withstanding great challenges.

We can easily say Richard Mille has created watches that have redefined the way we look at sports watches with their unique and modern look and the practical usability these highly complicated watches have. The difficulty is actually finding a golden Richard Mille watch. This is understandable, as one of the many characteristics of the brand is to produce lightweight watches, and gold is not exactly lightweight obviously. But it doesn’t mean there are none to be found.

Richard Mille RM11 03
Richard Mille RM11 03 – View offers on Chrono24

One the most iconic Richard Mille watches is the RM 011 that was introduced in 2007 and was worn by Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa. The RM 11-03 is an updated version of the RM 011 and was introduced in 2016. The watch is available in rose gold, titanium, or a combination of both, with the rose gold version oozing class and performance. As with all Richard Mille watches, the harmony of the case, dial, and movement make this a true piece of haute horlogerie that can be used as a sports watch.

The sports occasion to wear this Richard Mille to has to be a Formula 1 Grand Prix, obviously. The remarkable thing about the RM 11-03 is that, while it is highly expensive and looks unmistakably modern, it will not even be close to the flashiest sports watch walking around the paddock of the Monaco Grand Prix with a nice glass of champagne.

These are just four of the gold sports watches available, but the one thing they have in common is that they have become sports watch icons. There are many gold sports watches on the market, and it seems only logical. The times that we would need a dress watch in order to wear a gold watch are long gone…fortunately!

Read more

Three Rolex Models You Don’t See Every Day

Legendary Watches: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Watch Pairs: IWC Portuguese Chronograph & Panerai Luminor Marina 8 Days


About the Author

Jorg Weppelink

Hi, I'm Jorg, and I've been writing articles for Chrono24 since 2016. However, my relationship with Chrono24 goes back a bit longer, as my love for watches began …

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