Modern watchmakers are using mankind’s most often mined metal—gold—for summer’s most coveted timepieces.
Gold has been considered the ultimate measure of wealth since the beginning of recorded history. As far back as 3600 BC, Egyptians depicted gold in their hieroglyphics, and the Mesopotamians were among the first to craft gold jewelry. As time progressed, gold became a unit of currency, a factor in art and, in the form of wedding bands, a universal sign of love. The 16th century saw the creation of personal timepieces with the birth of pocket watches. Early watchmakers naturally turned to gold to satisfy their affluent clients, and a luxurious partnership between gold and timekeeping began.
Seventy percent of the world’s gold is used for jewelry and fine watches, which is predominantly 18 karat. The “karatage” of gold refers to the proportion of pure gold in a piece of jewelry: 18k gold contains 75 percent; 24k gold, 99 percent. Since 24k gold is too soft and malleable to be crafted into the hull of a watchcase (meant to protect the movement within), other metals are introduced to strengthen it. When combined with the original ingot, these metals can add new hues to the gold’s color.
As watch trends have evolved, classic yellow gold, which once reigned supreme, has become less in demand; 18k white gold and several hues of 18k pink (or rose) gold are now more popular for timepieces. Adding copper to the mix creates pink-, rose-, and red-gold variants. The more copper added, the richer and deeper the pink gold. Typically the value of 3N and 4N is given to pink and rose gold, while 5N denotes a deeper, richer hue (some brands refer to their 5N pink gold as “red” gold).
Some watch brands create their own hues of gold such as green, orange, honey, brown, gray, and even purple, by introducing various alloys to gold. Others not only add special metals to achieve their own proprietary color, but they also add materials to slow down or stop the gold from fading, or to help prevent it from scratching. To create certain unique shades, such as black, the color is achieved via an external coating process, such as electroplating, physical vapor deposit (PVD), or controlled oxidation.
Although theses specialized colors lack the broad market appeal of yellow, white and pink gold, they add intriguing options for watch collectors looking for variety.
Styling by terry lewiS