“Sooner or later everything old is new again.” The Stephen King aphorism is especially true in the world of style. Thus is the case with two-tone watches. But let’s not call it a comeback. After all, they’ve been around for years.
Two-tone or bi-color watches typically feature a steel case with some gold flourishes on the bezel and hands, or the smaller links of a bracelet. It’s a style that exploded in the excesses of the ‘70s and ‘80s. It waned a bit over the past few decades, but with demand at a simmer, brands like Omega and Rolex kept making and selling two-tones to customers who appreciated them.
While customer orders haven’t totally boiled over, today we’re seeing a resurgence of two-tone options. But that has a bit to do with the fact brands are offering more options in general, according to Damian Otwinowski, vice president of Watches of Switzerland USA. “Now there’s more creative freedom in the way collections come together,” he says, which allows brands to experiment more with materials.
Bi-color watches aren’t for everyone. But if you’re ready to take the plunge, here are eight of our favorite two-tone watches right now.
1. Rolex Sky-Dweller
Stunning in steel and yellow gold, the Sky-Dweller is currently the most complicated piece Rolex makes. The watch features an annual calendar and allows the wearer to track a second time zone with the off-center 24-hour disk, perfect for travelers on the go.
2. Cartier Santos-Dumont
This limited-edition timepiece features a stainless steel case glitzed up with both an 18K pink-gold bezel and a dial to match. The manual wound, time-only piece is on the larger size with a 46.6 mm width. However, it wears more comfortably thanks to a 33.9 mm lug-to-lug measurement and 7.5mm thickness.
3. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Dive
AP flipped the script with this dive watch. The case, unlike most bi-color pieces, is made from 18-carat pink gold, while the bezel is titanium. Served up on a grey rubber strap with a pink gold pin buckle, the watch features an internal dive timer and 300 meters of water resistance.
4. TAG Heuer Aquaracer
Yellow gold and stainless steel wrapped around a textured blue dial, this Aquaracer is perfect for anyone who loves classic ‘two-tone’ style. Powered by a rock-solid caliber 5 automatic movement and 300 meters of water resistance, this is a great go-anywhere, do-anything wristwatch.
5. Zenith Defy Extreme
Watching one of Zenith’s 1/100th of a second chronographs track time is hypnotic, but the experience is made even more beguiling when the movement is cased in titanium and rose gold. The contrast of materials makes the watch a bold statement that wears light on the wrist.
6. Omega Seamaster Diver 300 Co-Axial 43.5mm
For enthusiasts looking for something a little different, this Omega Seamaster is cased in black ceramic and accented with the brand’s Sedna gold around the bezel, hands, indexes, crown, and helium escape valve. The intense contrast gives the piece a distinctive look, whether you’re swimming under the sea or chipping away at a mountain of work in the office.
7. Bell & Ross BR 05
For watch-wearers who dig an integrated bracelet with a bi-color flourish, this is a fun and funky piece to add to your collection. The rounded square case combines satin-finished steel with 18-carat rose gold and alternating links in the bracelet for a retro-modern look that beguiles.
8. Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph
This chronograph also functions as a wrist-worn slide rule, making it a classic pilot’s tool watch. This iteration features red gold accents around the bezel, hands, and indexes that catch the light and create a stunning wrist presence, especially at 30,000 feet.