The Top 7 Best Bi-Color Watches Currently Available
Gold and steel is a combination that we need to celebrate more. The glorious combination of utilitarian steel and exclusive gold is the perfect combo for people looking for something unique. Watch fans often prefer either full steel or full gold watches. In order to show that there are some glorious bi-color watches out there, I have come up with a list of the seven best gold and steel watches currently available. So bring out the double-breasted suits, pinkie rings, and glorious haircuts of the 1980s because we are going on a trip back in time.
While that last statement might come across as trying to make fun of bi-color or two-tone watches, it’s certainly not how I feel about them. In all honesty, for a long time, I wasn’t a fan. I believed that you need to go either full gold or full steel. There was something uneasy about the combination of both materials. But as I grew a bit older, the combination of materials started making more sense. Partly because it was a great testament to the 1970s and ’80s when the bi-color watches were incredibly popular, and it’s the time I grew up in. So that definitely has left an imprint in my mind. And partly because some watches work very well in that somewhat strange combination of materials and colors. So let’s jump in and find out what some of my favorites currently available are.
1. Rolex Datejust
If there is one perfect bi-color statement, it’s the gold and steel Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee bracelet. And not just because Patrick Bateman wore it. I was born in 1977, and in the late 1970s and 1980s, the gold and steel Rolex Datejust was a statement piece perfectly fitting that era. But in all honesty, it wasn’t until probably my late twenties when I got sold on the idea of the gold and steel combo. Is it a halfway-there attempt to be fully gold? There was a certain unease I had to grow out of. But once I got a little older, I understood how glorious the gold steel combo for the Datejust is, and that it is anything but a compromise. The Jubilee bracelet is a must as it adds finesse to the overall presence, and combined with the fluted bezel it defines the watch.
There is always the question of what size to go for? The instant answer would be the 36mm as it is the classic size for the Datejust. So that would mean the ref. 126233 for the current model. Having said that, the 41mm ref. 126333 that you see pictured could also be perfect for people that prefer something bigger. Honestly, I can wear both and be perfectly happy. That choice will come eventually when the time is right. Because I think a Datejust should be part of any serious watch collection. Would it be full steel or bicolor for me? If ever there was a gold and steel watch to buy, this is the one. So that would be my answer. And the great thing is that pre-owned, the 36mm and 41mm bi-color Datejusts are not part of the current Rolex madness, so you can actually get them for a reasonable price close or lower than their €11,100 and €12,600 list prices.
2. Omega Seamaster Professional 300M Diver
The second watch on this list is also an easy choice. Ever since Omega introduced the renewed Seamaster Professional 300M Diver collection in 2018, this has been the model that has made the biggest impression on me and some of the other Fratello team members. There is simply something glorious about its looks. The combination of steel, Sedna gold, and black makes for a classy watch that will be great in various situations. Because of its handsome looks and great versatility, this would have been the perfect Bond watch for me. Perfectly equipped to assist during Bond’s missions and the appropriate looks for every swanky party that Bond is crashing to chase all the beautiful women… Ehhh, villains!
Aside from the looks, the watch is simply one of the best divers out there for the money considering its €6,900 price tag. Omega updated the Seamaster Professional 300M in 2018 quite extensively. The biggest updates are an updated design, a new ceramic dial with the laser-etched wave pattern, and the in-house produced Omega caliber 8800. But it’s easier to state that Omega basically created an entirely new watch without losing the very characteristic Omega Seamaster Professional 300M looks. Overall the release was an incredible update, and three years after its release, this is still one of the best dive watches on the market. And three years after, I would have never thought that the Sedna gold and steel combo would still be the best one. But it is.
3. Cartier Santos
The Cartier Santos in gold and steel is another iconic watch that should be on every list with the best bi-color watches. If the Datejust is the ultimate statement in the gold and steel, the Santos is not far behind. The Santos is in the same category as the Datejust as a perfect statement of the decadent 1980s. It was introduced in 1978, right in time to become one of the biggest icons of that era. And more than four decades after its introduction, it still is a glorious statement of decadence. The combination of two metals with the white dial with black Roman numerals is unique. I especially like the bracelet on the Santos with its steel links and gold screws.
The latest update for the Santos came in 2018 when Cartier slightly changed the design of the characteristic square bezel. Robert-Jan asked the question in his introduction article, why would the brand change the most iconic part of the watch? Design-wise I understand why they did it as it creates a natural flow from the bezel to the bracelet. But it does mess with the most iconic part of the gold and steel combo. The Cartier Santos is still a baller statement at €9,800 for anyone looking to buy a bi-color watch despite that slightly odd choice.
4. Tudor Black Bay Chrono
Earlier this year, Tudor introduced two new Black Bay Chrono models to their collection. The two watches were very well-received by many. I agree that they are very welcome additions to the Black Bay lineup. But what these two watches do not have is the swagger of the third Black Bay Chrono in the line-up. The Black Bay Steel & Gold, for me, is still the best out of the three. The aesthetics of that watch have sentimental value for me. They bring me back to the old days of Formula 1. From 1972 to 1986, the Lotus “John Player Special” tore around tracks in that glorious black and gold livery and captured the hearts of many that watched the sport. I was only a young boy back then, but I still remember thinking that it was the coolest car on the grid.
It’s this kind of sentiment that is hard to beat. The watch comes with a steel case, a yellow gold bezel, pushers, and crown. Combined with the black dial and bezel inlay, it creates a classy base for the gold registers and the little hints of red that spice up the watch’s looks. The watch is available on a black fabric strap, brown Bund strap, or a steel bracelet with gold-capped center links. It is the perfect combination of retro-inspired looks and modern-day watchmaking. Inside the watch, Tudor equipped the watch with the COSC-certified Tudor Caliber MT5813. The movement is essentially Breitling’s B01 movement with some slight modifications. It’s a package that is hard to top. The Black Bay Chrono S&G combines amazing looks with a classy movement, COSC-certification, great finishing, all for a reasonable price at €5,450 on a strap and €6,590 on the bracelet. Try and beat that.
5. Breitling Chronomat B01 42
In one of our Sunday Morning Showdown series installments, we matched up the Tudor Black Bay S&G I just discussed with the stainless steel Breitling Chronomat B01 42. In the article, I accused the Chronomats of the ’80s and ’90s of being a chunky trophy watch for disreputable characters. Especially the bi-color versions of the Chronomat were the shining example of everything tacky and wrong with luxury watches. But the overall sentiment I have with the Chronomat changed completely with the new Chronomat introduced early last year. Additionally, I have found an appreciation for the older Chronomats through the series of buyer’s guides that I have written, including the ones for Breitling.
When the new Chronomat was introduced only last year, it completely caught me by surprise. How could that iconic tacky statement of the past look so good? The current Chronomat keeps everything that makes the Chronomat iconic and makes it look very nice. An updated 42mm case, the iconic bezel with the “rider tabs,” the great in-house B01 chronograph movement, and the reintroduction of the iconic Rouleaux bracelet. My focus was on the steel models first and foremost. But the two-tone version in steel and rose gold looks classy, especially with the anthracite dial it’s a great option at €11,600. It is further proof that the current Chronomat B01 42 is a great line of watches that works in every material. As a result, it washes away any negative thoughts I had about the Chronomat. Now the thought of the 1980s Chronomat brings a smile to my face.
6. Rolex GMT-Master II “Root Beer”
This next one is a bit of a tricky one. I’m not the biggest fan of the current Rolex GMT-Master II “Root Beer” ref. 126711CHNR. It’s not that I don’t like it, but I find the GMT-Master “Root Beer” models from the past to be much better. The GMT-Master ref. 1675/3 and its successor, the ref. 16753 from the 1970s are amongst the coolest Rolex watches ever created. The “Root Beer” was first introduced in 1970 and featured a color combination that is still unique to this day in the world of watches. When Rolex introduced the latest generation GMT-Master “Root Beer” in 2018, a couple of things stood out compared to the models that started the “Root Beer” legacy.
First off, the watch features a black dial rather than the iconic brown dials of the older models. Rolex also uses rose gold for the current model rather than yellow gold. Additionally, the watch comes with an Oyster bracelet instead of the Jubilee bracelet. Lastly, there is simply a big difference between the overall look and feel of the Rolex watches from the past compared to the current shiny presence of many of the sports models. The Cerachrom bezel insert, the polished center links it’s all a bit flashy. But maybe it’s unfair to compare it to the watches from the past: different times, different rules. Fortunately, the glorious color combination of the bezel gave the watch its nickname hasn’t changed. That combo makes this bi-color watch still so much better than many others out there at €14,100.
7. Omega Seamaster Professional Ploprof 1200M
The last watch is a total wildcard. First, it’s actually made from titanium and Sedna gold rather than steel and Sedna gold. Cheating? Maybe a little bit. But the true controversy is in its intentions rather than its execution. Can you actually create a luxury titanium and gold version of one of the most extreme tool watches out there? It completely defies the Ploprof’s intentions as one of the ultimate diving watches. Intentions that find their roots with the divers of the legendary Comex team. Everything about the Ploprof screams function. An extreme tool watch that excels through its specifications and ability to perform. Not its ability to be a show-off piece. But somehow, this €17,100 titanium and Sedna gold statement works in all its over-the-top glory.
It might help that I am a big fan of the Ploprof. The discontinued stainless steel model is actually second on my list of future purchases. So you could say that I am slightly biased. But I could have also said that this is a statement that is total blasphemy. It was my actual gut feeling. While I already think the titanium version was a no-go for the Ploprof, adding Sedna gold to the mix felt very uncomfortable at first. But then I was reminded of the unique design of the Ploprof, and it makes it hard to hate any iterations of the model. The grade 5 titanium case and bracelet combination, Sedna gold bezel, and blue bezel and dial works once you let it sink in. While it will probably never see the ocean’s great depths, it also works as a bold statement without having to prove itself.
There you have it, my list of favorite bi-color watches. There are obviously a lot more great options out there. So please let us know in the comment section what your favorite currently available bi-color watch is.