Ever since we celebrated the millennium milestone, steel has become the metal of choice for many buyers in the luxury watch industry. Stainless steel sports watches like Rolex Submariners and Daytonas have replaced the demand for those made from precious metals like yellow gold and platinum. This change could be down to a number of factors, including the skyrocket price of gold, and possibly, the seeming decline of yellow gold’s popularity.
So the question I hope to answer is this… are yellow gold wristwatches still fashionable?
There really isn’t a simple answer to this considering these days, fashion trends change all the time. But, if we were to look at the trends of the current market, then statistics show a huge decline in yellow gold and precious metal wristwatch sales by approximately 25% (according to FH reports in 2016/2017).
Instead, there has been a large increase in sales of steel wristwatches and those luxury watches priced at around £3,000-£5,000. These trends may explain why Omega has jumped to second place in the 'most valuable Swiss watch brand in the world' chart (2016) .
Changes in demand
The market demand is just as important, if not more important than the metal value of a watch. Luxury retailers like Patek Philippe created a surplus of luxury wristwatches made from precious metals like yellow gold for the higher end of their target market… the rich. However, there were so many of these watches made, that the demand hasn’t been able to keep up.
Another explanation for this lack of demand for yellow gold watches and the change in purchasing habits could of course be attributed to the economy, but we are not economy specialists and it’s a pretty boring topic, so we’ll bypass that!
What do the brands say?
One of the best ways to see what is popular is by looking at what the major luxury watch brands are making and selling, because after all, they’ll only create what sells!
If you take a look at Richard Mille’s current and past collections, you will find that the majority of them are made from alternative materials like Carbon NTTP, aluminium, titanium and black ceramic. On the rare occasion they use a precious metal for the outer casing, they use rose or white gold.
Now, I don’t know exactly why they have never used yellow gold, but it could be because they believed it wouldn't be a big seller with their customers or even because of economical reasons. But it does make you question whether it’s because yellow gold is no longer seen as fashionable.
Brands like Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe continue to manufacturer yellow gold timepieces, however the quantity is considerably less than other metals. Patek Philippe in particular has stopped manufacturing their most popular modern sports watches, the Patek Nautilus, in yellow gold. Could this be more evidence to prove yellow gold may be a metal of the past?
Rolex is probably one of the only brands that seem to have no problem selling yellow gold wristwatches. Some of it’s most popular yellow gold pieces include the now discontinued Day-Date II’s and the Day-Date 40’s, not to mention the yellow gold sports watches like Submariners, which remain very popular today!
It seems that no matter how common the trends and purchasing habits are amongst the top luxury brands, Rolex follows its own, but why?
Well to put it bluntly, the most popular yellow gold Rolex, the Day-Date, is so iconic, it's timeless! Regardless, of fashion trends or market demands, this piece will always be a favourite.
So, are yellow gold wristwatches still fashionable?
At the end of the day, it all comes down to your own personal tastes. But if we focus on what the watch market and trends are saying, then the answer may be leaning more towards no. Newer and more contemporary looking metals and materials are seemingly overtaking yellow gold, but hey, the trends can change, opinions differ. If there’s a yellow gold watch you like, then whip your wallet out and get it!
Get started by browsing some of our yellow gold Rolex's here.