Watches and Wonders Geneva Showcased the Evergreen Appeal of Gold

Watches tell us about the present or the past; the future is generally out of reach, except at a fair like the recently concluded Watches and Wonders Geneva. You might have caught some of our favourites and highlights over the last week, and probably caught up on all the news wherever you get your horological fix. So, what does it all say about the year of watchmaking that is to come? In 2024, the answer is simple: high-value precious metal models.

Patek Philippe’s Golden Ellipse new design
Patek Philippe’s Golden Ellipse new design

Gold is king at Watches and Wonders Geneva 2024 and here we will risk repeating ourselves because Rolex and Patek Philippe distinguished themselves with a significant majority of novelties in the precious stuff. If one adds platinum into the mix, then precious metals dominate. The dominant market force and the most prominent prestige player have but one new stainless steel model between them. We would never have imagined typing that sentence before the fair started and it still feels unbelievable. And yet it is merely a fact. Make no mistake though, it is still the era of sports elegance but perhaps we can call this sports elegance elevated (SEE).

The red gold TAG Heuer Skipper
The red gold TAG Heuer Skipper

This is not only about the red gold TAG Heuer Skipper, the full gold Tudor Black Bay 58 and the Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono Grey Steel and Gold but also the all-gold Parmigiani Fleurier Toric where dials and calibres are also in gold. We could go on and list more, and we will. Both of the novelties at A. Lange & Sohne are in precious metals and so is the sole Ulysse Nardin Freak S Nomad, obviously. At IWC, the entire new Portogieser Horizon Blue variant is only in white gold while the new Duometre watches at Jaeger-LeCoultre are exclusively in gold, except the stainless steel Quatieme Lunaire. Needless to say, the Piaget Polo 79 is a big old gold brick, while the majority of Cartier’s 66 novelties this year are in precious metals, and that goes up to 100 percent at Van Cleef & Arpels.   

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Chronograph Moon 

If your first thought in hearing all this is that things are going to get expensive, you are of course correct. It is not a response to increasing wealth in the world. You might have noticed from recent news reports on Swiss watchmaking exports that matters are hardly looking up. Quite the opposite. It may be though that demand for the most expensive sorts of watches is more resilient (as history demonstrates), so the appeal for watchmakers is clear. In addition, margins are better in the precious metals game (though not necessarily in complications but that is another matter) and companies such as Rolex and Patek Philippe want to reward their retail partners. A few that we spoke with agreed.

Bell & Ross BR 05 Chrono Grey Steel and Gold

To be sure, this is one interpretation of the novelties of 2024 but we feel confident that it is a very obvious one. It is also of obvious concern for collectors and enthusiasts, who have been primarily interested in steel watches – it is downright ominous for fans of bronze and other novelty materials. Rolex did not even introduce more models in titanium but maybe it will dedicate an entire year for this, just as it did with precious metals in 2024.

For more on the luxury watch reads and the latest in Watches and Wonders Geneva 2024, click here.

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