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Two-tone watches - The comeback

Two-tone watches The comeback

While Western men are currently showing a renewed interest in gold and steel watches, such models had in fact maintained a faithful following since the heyday in the 1980s.

Traditionally, the term two-tone refers to watches made of gold and steel. However, to be entirely accurate, one must admit that most watches are two, three and even four-toned. It is indeed entirely arbitrary to refer exclusively to the colour of the case while leaving aside the most obvious and visible shade – that of the dial. But conventions are what they are. Two-tone watches were long regarded as the exclusive preserve of specific segments of the international watch industry clientele. Typical of the 1980s look, they came to be considered as outdated by a Western male audience – the very target group on which watch design focused for a number of years. So much for Act I. Meanwhile, Act II began in parallel, played out among women who have always viewed this as an interesting approach in both aesthetic and economic terms.

Act III witnesses one of the most popular theatrical elements: surprise. Because for some unfathomable reason, gold and steel watches have become classic favourites among customers in… China. The archetypal watch sold to citizens of the Middle Empire is in yellow (and now also pink) gold and steel, including the bracelet. When Montblanc issues a TimeWalker model specifically destined for this market, it was bound to be in pink gold and steel.

But fashion is all about seesaw effects and swings of the pendulum. It recycles previous trends, mixes influences and reinstates that which was previously despised. The two-tone watch is thus timidly re-appearing on hairy wrists in the Western world. Zenith already launched its Espada model along these lines in 2012, a move now confirmed by a brand staple, the Chronomaster Grande Date. The tendency is admittedly still very hesitant, but it is not confined merely to ageing individuals nostalgic for the 1980s, or to connoisseurs looking for intermediate price and range-segment levels. The approach is authentic, as confirmed by the latest addition to the Nautilus collection, since Patek Philippe has decided to introduce a two-tone variation of its sportiest chronograph. It is worth pointing out that the idea did not just emerge out of thin air. It has been finding its way into consumers’ hearts and visual range thanks to a distinctive play on colours that is typical of contemporary watchmaking in general.

Instead of gold and steel, numerous models with black PVD or DLC finishes have adopted the same attributes as their predecessors. Bezels, pushers, crowns and even the accents on 18-carat gold bracelets have for years been rubbing shoulders with deep black. One of the most recent examples is the Patravi TravelTec FourX by Carl F. Bucherer, featuring a gold base topped by a black bezel– and even a reversed variation on this theme in an even more precious interpretation. Will the trend become bigger and more widespread? The 2014 watch fairs are getting closer by the day, and doubtless hold the answer to that particular question.





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