Yellow Gold Is Back.

Brands see the trend gaining in popularity throughout.
A display of three Hublot watches, all the same, but in small, medium and large. The watches have black faces and black bands but the faces are encased in bright yellow gold.
Hublot released 10 timepieces in 2022 in yellow gold to celebrate its Classic Fusion model, which debuted in yellow gold in 1980.
It has been more than 30 years since white metal and rose gold watches pushed yellow gold timepieces out of the industry spotlight, but a look at recent introductions of new watch models from TAG Heuer to Vacheron Constantin shows that fashion has changed once again.
And yellow gold is back.
“We were born making yellow gold watches,” Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s director of image, style and heritage, said in a recent interview, noting that the house’s first wristwatches, the Santos and the Tank, were yellow gold. “Now we definitely see a trend toward yellow gold again, our boutiques are seeing it, and it is global and both men and women are buying it.”
With the popularity of yellow gold, Cartier recently introduced a new Panthère model in 18-karat yellow gold with a black lacquer dial, reminiscent of the model’s 1980s versions of the timepiece, although he also noted that yellow gold had been among the Panthère choices since the model was reintroduced in 2017.
And the house also chose yellow gold for the Tank Normale, a re-edition of a 1917 design (a replica of the original but with updated parts). “For the Tank Normale,” Mr. Rainero said, “we were being faithful to the original design and part of the authenticity of the watch was yellow gold; the same is true of the Panthère.”
Cartier, of course, has not been alone. In 2022, Hublot unveiled 10 timepieces in yellow gold as the brand celebrated its Classic Fusion model, which debuted in yellow gold in 1980.
“That collection was very well received and it was refreshing for collectors to see yellow gold as new, compared to the pink gold,” said Raphael Nussbaumer, chief product and purchasing officer for Hublot, during a video interview from the brand’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. “Now we are seeing a lot of interest on the part of consumers for yellow gold and will continue to offer it.”
Executives at TAG Heuer, which this year unveiled its Aquaracer Professional 200 and Carrera Chronograph in 18-karat yellow gold, were somewhat surprised by consumers’ interest in yellow gold. The brand’s gold watches are at least $20,000, while stainless steel timepieces retail for much less.
“We can see clearly there’s a demand from clients for solid gold pieces, and it’s a nice idea to satisfy that demand,” Nicholas Biebuyck, TAG Heuer’s heritage director, said during a video interview from La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, where the brand is based. “It is really about taking inspiration from the past and bringing it into the future.”
The 1970s and ’80s influences in recent fashion collections, like those shown here at the spring 2024 Saint Laurent show in Paris, are one reason yellow gold has been gaining popularity.
“The first wristwatches on the market in the early 20th century were predominantly crafted in yellow gold,” Mr. Rainero of Cartier said, referring to the Santos in 1906 and the Tank in 1919.
“The only other possibility was to buy a platinum watch. Pink gold and rose gold appeared much later in the watch world, in the ’90s.”
Since then, rose gold has been the most popular precious metal for watches.

Brands now investing in more yellow gold watches seem to agree that there are a host of reasons yellow gold has been gaining popularity, none of which involve the price of the metal itself (which, according to Forbes, has appreciated 36 percent in the last five years).
TAG Heuer this year unveiled its Carrera Chronograph in 18-karat yellow gold. And Nicolas Bos, president and chief executive of Van Cleef & Arpels, said younger customers seem to be looking for a style of their own. “All they have experienced for the past 20 years or so is rose gold and white metal,” he said, “so yellow gold is a nice change.”
Vacheron Constantin earlier this year released a yellow gold version of its 222 watch. Christian Selmoni, style and heritage director at Vacheron Constantin, echoed the idea. “Collectors who are younger grew up in the rose gold era and so yellow gold is a novelty to them,” he said, “They see it as a refreshing change.”
In line with the trend, earlier this year the brand released a yellow gold version of its 222 watch, a remake of the timepiece designed in 1977 by Jorg Hysek to celebrate Vacheron Constantin’s 222nd anniversary.
“There is always a momentum to go back to what we loved in the past,” Mr. Selmoni said, “and with the increased interest in vintage watches, there could be strong positive influence on the part of customers for yellow gold watches. Especially because yellow gold is the purest form of gold and there is no significant price difference between yellow and rose gold.”
Brands that create both watches and jewelry have seen the trend rising in both categories. At Piaget, for example, “there is a shift toward yellow gold, but it is not fully out yet,” Alain Borgeaud, the brand’s head of patrimony, said in a video interview from its headquarters in Geneva. “The attraction from the U.S. market is strong, but we see it in Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, a little Europe.” And, he added, there will be more yellow gold offerings in 2024.
Antoine Pin, managing director of Bulgari’s watch division, said the house has been aggressively exploring yellow gold. “What turns it from a sleeping slow trend to an active trend? The demand on the part of consumers. And we are seeing interesting parallels between the return to smaller sizes, the return to the 1970s and ’80s and the natural color of gold.” Bulgari has continually had yellow gold watches in its women’s collections, but this year it introduced yellow gold versions of both the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph and the limited edition 50th anniversary Octo Finissimo.
The active market for pre-owned vintage watches also seems to have played a part in the resurgence of yellow gold.
“The majority of historic pieces were made in yellow gold, the most timeless version of gold,” said Paul Boutros, deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, for Phillips auction house. “Those collectors who are going the vintage route are buying yellow gold, and I think this will influence others who see those yellow gold watches on their wrists.”
And it is the enduring appeal of gold, executives at Audemars Piguet said, that has kept it in the house’s mix.
“While Audemars Piguet never ceased production of yellow gold timepieces, the metal was not always present in all collections,” Ginny Wright, chief executive of Audemars Piguet Americas, wrote in an email. “That said, in 2015, Audemars Piguet brought yellow gold back to the forefront of its collections. It makes a statement simply through its ability to be bold, regardless of who is wearing it.” In fact, many brand executives said yellow gold is often more versatile and satisfying to wear.
So why isn’t every brand turning to yellow gold?
“When something is in the air, it takes a bit of time to land,” Mr. Selmoni of Vacheron Constantin said. “But we love yellow gold because it is a color that can really make our watches shine.”