Editor’s note: The other week I caught up with a mate who had recently come to the inevitable realisation that he needed a yellow gold Day-Date on his wrist. He struggled with the stigma of gold for ages (yellow gold AND a Rolex to boot), before finally reconciling that it was, by all metrics, awesome. And that got me thinking back to this instructional guide from Andy Green …
You know who you are, and you know why you’re here — and it’s totally fine. You’ve found yourself at the inevitable crossroad that all collectors come to. You’re finally in the position to buy something that you never thought you’d like, but as your tastes have evolved, you’re struggling to resist it. When you first started collecting watches, you swore it was too obnoxious, gaudy and ‘flashy’ … yet, here you are, lusting after a gold watch — not knowing how to handle it.
Firstly, it’s okay. Like I said, we’ve all been there, often without realising. Maybe it happened when you were at your local dealer, who only had that model you wanted in white gold. Maybe you tried on a friend’s piece and fell in love with the weight of the metal. You want gold, and you’re trying to work out if you can pull it off, and, ultimately, whether it’s the right decision for you. Well, here’s everything you need to know.
Now, before we tackle the various ‘obstacles’ (in #firstworldproblems air quotes) to buying a gold watch, it’s important to see where you fit in the customer type. There are a few different types of gold watch buyer, and each class will heavily impact your move into precious metals.
Perhaps you are a long-time collector, looking to consolidate a few pieces into gold? You’ve got a handful of steel watches, which have steadily increased over time, and you figure you’ll cash out for that dream watch.
Another motivation for buying gold is, of course, the milestone purchase. Perhaps you’re nearing retirement, or you’ve hit a business milestone — or, better yet, celebrated a relationship anniversary. Regardless, you’re looking to gold to *really* mark an occasion.
The last category of gold watch buyer is one I like to refer to as the baller. Why? Because your FIRST watch is a solid gold piece. You didn’t mess around with steel or two-tone, you went straight to the precious metals. You had your pick of the bunch, and you made a great choice.
I’ll cut straight to it — broadly speaking, buying ANY precious metal watch, especially at retail, is usually (there are always exceptions) a bad ‘investment’. But there are many arguments for it: firstly, it will put you in good stead with your local dealer — and they might remember you as a great customer when you have a hankering to get something hard to come by.
On the flip side, the beauty (again, broadly speaking) with precious metals is that pre-owned and vintage pieces can often be a steal. Can’t get that 2018 steel sports model everyone’s after? Odds are for a little bit more, you could pick up the same modern model in gold, near-new/pre-owned — for similar money to the premium you’d be paying on the second-hand market. Not only that, it will be significantly easier to purchase!
Now, let’s not forget about vintage pieces in precious metal, which have had 30 years to depreciate, and then begin to potentially appreciate. If you’re up for the vintage life, and enjoy patina and wear, then this is the move. One issue with modern gold pieces is their size, which is usually identical to their steel counterparts. The beauty of vintage watches is that they’re a reflection of past times, when watches were typically more refined. This leads to my next point — perception.
Probably the biggest roadblock to your gold purchase is, of course, perception. To most, gold equals money. Now, unless you’re going for that look, it’s something most collectors want to avoid — for a number of very valid reasons, usually relating to their work. Perhaps you’re a business owner and fear clients will use your flashy gold watch as leverage against you when negotiating a contract? Or you’re an employee, worried your boss will assume they’re paying you too much money? Or maybe you’re just a discreet individual, not looking to attract attention?
All these fears are warranted, and before I offer some solutions, ask yourself: what value does the average punter put on a solid gold Day-Date? Sure, it screams wealth and success, but do they *really* have any idea of the value? In fact, think to yourself, how many times has your 5-figure watch been identified, and how many of those times has the spotter really known the value?
There are a few simple ways to tackle these perception issues. The first and simplest is to buy stealthy. That means opting for a white gold piece (or platinum, if your budget allows), which most will often mistake for steel. If you want to get stealthier, then choose a watch off-bracelet. This can work for yellow and rose gold pieces, as it won’t garner anywhere near as much attention. A couple of years ago, we featured a list of creative ways to hide your addiction, which you can find here.
The other option, which we touched on earlier, was choosing something vintage, which looks like ‘grandpa’s’ watch. A scuffed-up old gold Day-Date that you inherited from Grandad is much more acceptable and easier to explain to envious colleagues and employers.
My last suggestion is simple: don’t wear it in the office or to important meetings. It’s unlikely this will be your only watch, but if it is, I definitely don’t feel sorry for you.
Ultimately, though, buying gold is a serious purchase. It’s something you should only buy because you want it. And, really, only you know whether it’s a good move. If you’re unsure, borrow a friend’s, and never rush into a purchase.