If you can’t make your mind up about whether you want a gold watch or a steel one, you might want to consider a two-tone watch. Priced in the middle ground between a steel watch and a full gold piece, they’re a good compromise for anyone who wants to flash a little gold without having to blow the budget. Obviously, they’re not for everyone – two-tone watches have a very particular, slightly ostentatious aesthetic that for some people, is always going to be just a little too reminiscent of the 1980s to enjoy. But as Stephen Pulvirent, the managing editor of Hodinkee, tells the New York Times, for other people (particularly those who weren’t around to experience the 80s the first time), it’s that exact same thing that’s the appeal. “There seems to be some rising backlash against the minimalism trend, and in a funny way, two-tone actually feels more maximalist and in-your-face than a solid gold watch,” he explains. “There’s something very South Beach, early ’80s, a-few-too-many-mai-tais about it that I think resonates in an era of crocodile Gucci mules and tricked-out G Wagons.”
If you want a dressier alternative to your favorite old sports watch, a two-tone watch is perfect. Of all the watchmakers, Rolex is usually the one that springs to mind first when you think two-tone. But you don’t have to break the bank to that extent. Although most other watchmakers tend to limit their adventures in two-tone to just a select few pieces, look hard enough and you won’t find it too challenging to find a great piece at an attractive price point. Take these five top picks from TAG Heuer as an example. All stunning pieces, all expertly made, and not a single one over $6500.
TAG Heuer Formula 1 – Ref WBJ141AA.BA0973
As quillandpad.com comments, there aren’t many trends in the watch world quite as divisive as the two-tone watch. Speak to collectors about them, and you’ll find they all fall into one of two camps: they either love them or hate them. If you count yourself among the former, cast your eyes over this little beauty. Priced at an extremely attractive $1,450, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 – Ref WBJ141AA.BA0973 is a great example of why many people consider TAG Heuer the affordable entry point into the world of luxury Swiss watches. It’s also more than illustrative of what makes it such a coveted brand. Pitched somewhere between a sports watch and a dress watch, it features a black steel and ceramic fixed bezel paired with a two-toned steel and black ceramic bracelet. Glamorous but not ostentatious, it makes a statement without looking try-hard. The slim, comfortable bracelet is matched by a 32 mm diameter case in polished steel. The dial is clean, uncluttered, and, thanks to the lustrous rhodium plating and carved, extra-long baton indexes, just the right side of glam. As TAG Heuer two-tone watches go, it’s unquestionably one of the best.
TAG Heuer Carrera Lady – Ref WAR2453.BD0777
At $6,500, the TAG Heuer Carrera – Ref WAR2453.BD0777 is a fraction more expensive than our other examples, but one look at this sophisticated piece should convince you of its worth. Featuring a slim 28 mm diameter steel case accessorized with a rose gold plated, 56 diamond-bearing bezel, a diamond and gold accented mother-of-pearl dial, and a comfortable, H-shape bracelet in stainless steel and 18K 5N rose gold, it’s a shimmering stunner that’s guaranteed to delight any woman who prizes luxury and quality.
TAG Heuer Formula 1 – Ref WAZ1120.BB0879
Priced at around $2,000, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 – Ref WAZ1120.BB0879 is a robust offering with a great look. Functionality is accounted for by the Quartz-powered movement and unidirectional turning bezel in polished aluminum and gold-plated steel. The style is strong, masculine, and very much in line with what you’d expect from TAG Heuer’s racing line. The 41mm case in polished and brushed stainless steel is paired with a two-tone bracelet in steel and plated yellow gold, along with a midnight blue, sapphire crystal-covered dial. The overall aesthetic is in no way subtle, but if you want a watch that’s going to have all the eyes in the room looking its way, it’s perfect.
TAG Heuer Aquaracer – Ref WBD2321.BB0320
If you’re a fan of TAG Heuer, you’ll know the Aquaracer. Since its birth in the early noughties, it’s become one of the most popular mainstays of the brand’s collection, as loved for its superb functionality as its exquisite aesthetic. As calibre11.com notes, its heritage is just as notable as its style: despite not receiving the official title of ‘Aquaracer’ until 2004, it can trace its origins to the Heuer 2000 of 1982, the last model ever launched during Jack Heuer’s tenure. With the TAG Heuer Aquaracer – Ref WBD2321.BB0320, we have a classic example of what makes the series so noteworthy. Priced at a not insignificant (but by no means unreasonable) $3350, it features a steel bracelet adorned with 18K yellow gold along with a glamorous, lacquered silver dial studded with plated yellow gold details and 11 lustrous diamonds. Durability is assured by the covering of anti-reflective, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. While the aesthetic is knock-out, the real beauty is in the expert functionality. Like all Aquaracers, it offers water resistance to 300m, along with a 60-minute scale unidirectional bezel. Robust, ergonomic, and stylish, it’s the perfect accessory for divers, swimmers, and just about anyone who appreciates a good-looking watch.
TAG Heuer Aquaracer – Ref WBD2120.BB0930
Like the Ref WBD2321.BB0320, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer – Ref WBD2120.BB0930 is an outstanding combination of functionality and style. At $3,100, it’s priced slightly above what you’d expect to pay for a steel watch, but well below what you’d need to stump up for a full-gold piece. Despite being dressier than your average sports watch, it still boasts all the same classic features, including water resistance up to 300m and a 60-minute scale unidirectional turning bezel. The luminescent coating on the hands and indexes, meanwhile, ensures excellent legibility both underwater and in low light. Style-wise, it’s a cracker: the 18K yellow gold that plates the bezel also makes an appearance on the hands and applied indexes, proving the perfect complement to the radiant blue sunray brushed dial. If you don’t buy into the trend for mammoth watches, you’ll find the 41mm steel case with its 18K gold screw-down crown and steel screw-down case back the ideal size.