One of the very first things people notice when choosing a wristwatch is the color and design. Whether you are a casual wearer or an experienced watch connoisseur, most people will often opt for timepieces that sport a single colorway, as they are more quintessential and timeless. Indeed, a watch with a sleek and understated construction is truly pleasing to look at.
However, not everyone is satisfied with a simple-looking and straightforward watch. In order to really make a statement, many watch enthusiasts prefer wearing more unique, eye-catching pieces such as two-tone watches. Bearing a luxurious, stylish appeal, these two-tone watches can easily upgrade any outfit. With their solid builds and pristine finishes, they can also leave a great impression and make you stand out in the most interesting way possible.
If you have been wanting to take the plunge into this long-standing trend, we have got you covered. We curated a list of some of the best two-tone watches that should be on your radar. Given the many manufacturers that offer them and the various styles available in the market today, you are bound to find a two-tone piece that perfectly suits your budget and fashion.
What is a Two-Tone Watch?
Offering the best of both worlds, a two-tone or bi-color watch refers to a timekeeper made out of stainless steel and solid gold. The gold in this instance be either luxurious yellow gold or the more elegant rose gold. Although it may seem like “two-tone” refers to pieces crafted out of materials in two different colors, the term is actually more often associated with the above-mentioned metals.
In most cases, luxury watch brands like Rolex and Omega tend to use stainless steel to craft the case, while gold is mainly reserved for decorative purposes. The gold is typically incorporated into the watches’ bezel, hands, crown, and center links. These two-tone watches are lavish, dressy, and are perfect for those who prioritise looks and function equally.
The Rise of Two-Tone Watches
The roots of two-tone watches can be traced back to the early 1920s when the popularity of pocket watches was at its peak. A lot of two-toned pocket timepieces back then had stainless steel cases paired with gold dials, hands, and necklaces.
In the early 1930s, Rolex rolled out its own glorious, patented two-tone watches called the Rolesor. Exquisite and very well-made, these pieces usually had stainless steel cases and bracelets, with the bezel, crown, and center links made from 18K gold. One of the first two-tone offerings of this famous Swiss brand was the Rolex Prince, which has been discontinued since 2015. In 1948, the brand’s signature Rolesor style made its first appearance in the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust collection. Today, it is nearly impossible not to think of this iconic model when talking about two-tone watches.
Bi-metal watches continued to thrive in the next 40 years. Aside from Rolex, other prominent brands like Vacheron Constantin also started to produce their own handsome pieces crafted from a blend of steel and gold. While Rolex focused on delivering gorgeous Rolesor dress watches, Vacheron Constantin produced artistic bi-color chronographs that were multifunctional and attractive.
Two-tone watches suddenly became incredibly in-demand and famous during the 1980s — the era of materialism and consumerism. Often associated with the rise of cable networks, technology, and blockbuster films like American Psycho and Wolf on Wall Street, this decade is also considered as the golden era for bi-color timepieces. These watches were the top choice of many enthusiasts and traders, with their unique and lavish looks. In fact, the Rolex Datejust, with its signature Rolesor aesthetic, was the go-to watch of many young urban professionals, or “yuppies”, back then. Indeed, Rolex played a huge role in the proliferation and popularity of two-tone watches.
Although the trend of two-tone watches declined briefly in the 1990s, today, they are starting to receive appreciation from watch enthusiasts again, especially from younger audiences. These timepieces are ideal for those who have a larger budget and are looking for something stylish and flashy. With so many brands producing a variety of excellent two-tone watches today, there is little doubt that these iconic mixed-metal timekeepers will only continue to rise.
Two-Tone Watches: Our 10 Best Picks
1. Rolex Explorer Ref. 124273-0001
It seems only fair to begin this list with a sophisticated piece from the brand that started the trend of two-tone wristwatches. Sporting the signature Rolesor design, the Rolex Explorer Ref. 124273-0001 is one of the chicest and most lustrous two-tone watches out there.
Exuding an aura of sheer class, this Rolex Explorer model comes in a 36mm case made of yellow gold and the brand’s proprietary Oystersteel material, which is a type of steel that is exceptionally resistant to scratches and corrosion. This is paired with a fixed bezel also made of solid gold, and a three-link bracelet with Oystersteel outer links and gold inner links. The jet-black analog dial has a straightforward layout, with baton indices, sizeable Arabic numeral markers, and Mercedes hands — all coated with luminous elements. A sapphire crystal is also fitted on top of the case to protect the dial from any scratches and impacts.
With a decent water resistance capacity of 100 meters, this two-tone watch can accompany you on your swims and snorkeling endeavors. It is powered by a COSC-certified Caliber 3230 movement that beats at 28,000 vibrations per hour. You can purchase this striking watch for approximately $11,550 USD.
2. Tissot T-Gold Gentleman Powermatic 80 Ref. 927.407.41.031.00
Next up, we have a piece from Tissot, another reputable luxury Swiss watchmaker that offers timepieces in a wide variety of styles, colorways, sizes, and finishes. Although this brand has tons of two-tone watches for men under its belt, nothing beats the Tissot T-Gold Gentleman Powermatic 80 Ref. 927.407.41.031.00, which stands out with its pristine finish, simple dial, and exquisite rose gold-and-silver combination.
This Tissot T-Gold watch has a brushed 40mm 316L stainless steel case and a bezel made from 18K rose gold. It boasts a standard thickness of 10.6mm and a lug width of 20mm, which makes it ideal for everyday wear. The stainless steel crown on the right of the watch sports teeth-like edges for an easier grip. This Tissot model flaunts a silver dial with a beautiful sunburst finish, which is adorned with rose gold baton indices, luminous dauphine hands, and a small date window outlined in rose gold.
This watch can also withstand water pressures of up to 50 meters. It runs on a self-winding Caliber 80.811 movement, which has a whopping power reserve of 80 hours. If you prefer two-tone watches with a softer appearance, then this Tissot piece is a solid choice. It costs around $1,495 USD only.
3. Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G Ref. M79363N-0003
Lauded for its dark but dapper appearance, the Tudor Black Bay Chrono S&G Ref. M79363N-0003 will look good with any outfit. With its bold, sporty look, this is one of the most impressive Black Bay pieces to date.
Reliable in every way, this Tudor watch runs on a COSC-certified Caliber MT5813 automatic movement with an impressive 70-hour power reserve. It is water-resistant up to depths of 200 meters, which makes it the perfect diving companion to boot. It comes in a 41mm stainless steel case, with wide, brushed lugs made of the same material and a comfortable black fabric strap. This is paired with a fixed yellow gold bezel which has a matte black aluminium insert marked with a tachymetric scale in yellow gold.
The dial is equally masculine, coming in a black hue with a cool matte finish. It gorgeously contrast the luminous geometric hour markers, signature large snowflake hands, and submerged gold sub-dials. Aside from that, the face of this Tudor Black Bay watch also bears a thin red seconds hand with a vibrant red tip for easier time-telling, and a small date display at 6 o’clock. This fully-functional, bi-color watch retails at $5,740 USD.
4. Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Ref. 126.96.36.199.01.001
Currently scouting for a watch ideal not only during formal events but also for everyday wear? The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Ref. 188.8.131.52.01.001 might be the answer to your prayers. This two-tone watch is an actual stunner, thanks to its exceptional proportions and organized dial layout. This model’s gorgeous rose gold and silver composition add a lavish, modern spin to the brand’s legendary Seamaster diving watch.
This Omega watch boasts a 42mm stainless steel case and a matching bracelet largely made of the same material. This is paired with an exquisite rose gold bezel, which is fitted with a black, scratch-resistant ceramic insert. The insert is decorated with huge Ceragold™ markers for the watch’s elapsed time scale, and this goes perfectly with the matching rose gold crowns on the right and left sides of the case. One interesting thing about the bracelet is that, unlike other brands which choose to have their center links all in gold, Omega has instead opted to integrate rose gold into just the outer edges of the strap connector, giving it a more understated look.
The dial of the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Ref. 184.108.40.206.01.001 also comes in a posh black hue, with a pattern of laser-engraved waves that suits this watch’s classification as a dive watch. The dial is adorned with luminous dot and baton indices and large skeleton hands. This watch is powered by an automatic caliber 8800, with 55 hours of power reserve and an anti-magnetic resistance rating of 15,000 Gauss. This same mechanism is also METAS-certified, so you do not have to worry about its longevity or precision. You can purchase this two-tone watch for approximately $10,500 USD.
5. Cartier Santos De Cartier Ref. W2SA0009
Oozing with class, this next piece from the watch and jewelry giant, Cartier, is one of the most recognizable two-tone watches in the market. The Cartier Santos De Cartier Ref. W2SA0009 deviates from the usual norm with its distinctive square-shaped case. As a part of the brand’s prestigious Santos de Cartier collection, which first launched in 1904, this two-tone piece is a testament to the brand’s creativity and passion for French craftsmanship.
This particular Cartier men’s watch comes in a well-polished, slender 35mm stainless steel case and a fixed bezel made out of 18K yellow gold. This is paired with a shiny steel bracelet equipped with gold screws. With the watch’s QuickSwitch system, you can quickly and easily change the strap into a leather one based on your mood. The bracelet also comes with a SmartLink system, which allows you to adjust the band’s length to fit your wrist comfortably without needing any extra tools.
Its straightforward dial is the true stand-out here, boasting a clean white hue and embellished with railroad-like patterns in the shape of a square at the center. Giving off a vintage feel, this dial also features large Roman numeral indices in black, in addition to the sleek blued steel hands.
This Santos de Cartier watch relies on a 23-jewel Caliber 1847 automatic movement. It has a frequency of 28,800 vph and an average 42-hour power reserve. Priced at $11,300 USD, this bi-color timekeeper is also water-resistant up to depths of 100 meters.
6. Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5980/1AR
For those who prefer two-tone watches with a riveting twist, then the Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5980/1AR is the best choice. With its extraordinary shape, clean lines, and visually appealing design, this timepiece is sure to turn heads.
Hailing from Patek Philippe’s most famous collection, the Nautilus, this masculine bi-color timepiece sports a 40.5mm rose gold and stainless steel case and the iconic octagonal-shaped bezel, which also comes in rose gold. On the case, you can find a large screw-down crown, two elongated pushers, and long crown guards, all of which are crafted from rose gold too. This is paired with a thick steel and rose gold bracelet with a fold-over clasp.
The watch’s gradient blue dial boasts a striking layout, with embossed horizontal lines that give this Nautilus model more edge. It is furnished with gold applied baton hour markers, luminous Obelisque hands, and a date aperture at 3 o’clock that is outlined with rose gold. Taking up the lower half of the dial is a chronograph sub-dial separated into two layers, which consists of the 12-hour, 30-minute, and 60-second counters.
Aside from bearing a 120-meter depth rating, this Patek Philippe piece runs on a 35-jewel Caliber CH 28-520 C automatic movement. This engine has a maximum power reserve of 55 hours and beats at 28,800 vph. You can even witness it at work through the watch’s sapphire crystal caseback. Priced at around $71,350 USD, this is the most expensive option on this list.
7. Bvlgari Bvlgari Ref. 102930
Here we have another outstanding contender in the best two-tone watches category. This timepiece from Bvlgari has a simple yet luxurious appeal, like many of the brand’s other offerings. It might not come with any overly complex complications, but the Bvlgari Bvlgari Ref. 102930 makes a bold statement with its straightforward and clean dial layout and solid build.
This Bvlgari Bvlgari men’s watch has a 41mm round stainless steel case with a neat brushed finish and a wide bracelet that holds intricate 18K rose gold links. This metal strap also has a folding clasp, so you can securely and tightly keep it on your wrist.
But what is really attention-grabbing about this watch is its large and detailed bezel. To match the aesthetic of the bracelet, Bvlgari crafted this bezel using solid 18K rose gold. Sporting a brushed finish, it has two large, engraved “Bvlgari” logos on its top and bottom. Contrasting the subtler hues of the watch’s exterior is its cool black dial, which comes in a matte finish. It is furnished with slim rose gold baton indices, Arabic numeral markers, sword hands, and a black date window at 3 o’clock that blends in with the black backdrop of the dial.
With a water resistance capacity of 50 meters, this men’s watch runs on a Caliber BVL 191 automatic movement. It has 42 hours’ worth of power reserve and a frequency of 28,800 vph. You can take this Bvlgari Bvlgari watch home by shelling out at least $12,000 USD.
8. Longines HydroConquest Ref. L3.7220.127.116.11
Longines is yet another premier watchmaker from Switzerland. They create excellent purpose-built timepieces that truly exceed expectations. One exceptional two-tone watch from this classic brand is the Longines HydroConquest Ref. L3.718.104.22.168.
This watch looks a little like the aforementioned Rolex Explorer Ref. 124273-0001 model, but differs in being a dive watch with a more complex look. It comes in a 41mm brushed stainless steel case and a matching stainless steel bezel that is coated in yellow gold PVD. The fact that this watch does not use solid gold serves to explain why it is relatively cheaper than the other two-tone watches included on this list. This Longines timepiece also has a unidirectional bezel with a black insert that is marked with an elapsed time scale in gold and a large screw-in crown at 3 o’clock.
The dial of this watch is rather busy-looking, exhibiting luminous hour indices and geometric markers, large Arabic numerals, thick diamond hands, a minute track in white near the rim of the dial, and a date window at 3 o’clock. Driven by a Caliber L888 self-winding movement, this watch beats at 25,200 vph and has an impressive power reserve of 72 hours. It is also water-resistant up to depths of 300 meters, so you can easily bring this bi-color timepiece for a deep dive.
This Longines HydroConquest watch retails at just $1,410 USD.
9. Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 Ref. UB0121211F1P1
Breitling is best known for creating rugged, heavy-duty aviator watches. And with the Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 Ref. UB0121211F1P1, the brand has one-upped itself, creating a robust, powerful pilot watch that is even dressy enough to be worn to a dinner party too. This watch boasts a commanding appeal that would surely tickle any man’s fancy.
This Navitimer model boasts a 43mm stainless steel case, large steel pushers, and thick lugs, all paired with a black alligator leather strap that is secured with a stainless steel tang buckle. The most arresting thing about this watch is its bezel, which comes in solid 18K rose gold, with gear-like edges that make it easier to grip while also giving it a more functional look. On top of this bezel, you can find a huge insert that is separated into two different sections, with a slide rule in white and a tachymeter marked on the black portion.
The dial of this watch is also quite busy-looking. It bears a masculine sunburst grey finish and features elegant rose gold-tone baton indices and sword hands, along with a chronograph display that has three black sub-dials and rose gold hands, and a date window at 4 o’clock. Powered by an in-house Breitling 01 caliber, this watch has a solid power reserve of 70 hours. Sumptuous and well-made, this Breitling model retails at $10,300 USD.
10. Rolex Datejust 36 Ref. 126231-0013
For all the ladies reading this article, do not worry, as we have something for you too. One of the most desirable two-tone watches in the market is the classic Rolex Datejust, which is simply a sight to behold. The Datejust 36 Ref. 126231-0013 serves as a contemporary interpretation of the original models from the mid-1940s, with some modern updates and improved performance.
This watch comes in a slim 36mm Oystersteel case with an elegant, fluted bezel made from Everose gold. It has wide lugs, a mid-sized crown made of rose gold, and a Jubilee bracelet in the Rolesor style, with rose gold center links and Oystersteel outer links. The dial of this watch comes in a stronger, slate grey hue. It has a clean and simple layout, with luminous baton hour indices and simple stick hands, a date window at 3 o’clock protected by a Cyclops lens, and a Chromalight display that allows for greater legibility in the dark.
This mixed-metal watch is driven by a Caliber 3235 automatic movement with a 70-hour power reserve and an impeccable accuracy rating of -2/+2 seconds per day. You can score this exquisite timepiece for around $12,835 USD.
All in all, two-tone watches will make you recognise that wearing pieces with bolder styles is not a bad idea after all. Although some may treat them as cheap and tacky, these bi-color pieces will surely make you the center of any conversation. Indeed, many brands have been plunging head-first into this trend in the hopes of reviving the glory of two-tone watches.
While it can be difficult to determine which piece might suit you best, given the numerous options in the market, the sheer variety available also means that you will certainly be able to find a two-tone watch that perfectly suits your lifestyle and budget. As long as you know what you need, you will be able to cop a good piece equipped with reliable mechanisms and compelling features. We hope you have found some great options to add to your collection through this list.
If you are looking for other robust and attractive timepieces, to add to your growing collection, then make sure to check out our comprehensive guides on Gorilla Watches, Mondaine Watches, Glycine Airman, and Seiko Credor.
Photos from the brands’ official websites, unless stated otherwise.