White gold; to the untrained eye it could easily pass for steel, yet it demands a hefty premium over the metal it is often mistaken for. What makes it that despite this, white gold watches have a significant ‘want!!’-factor?
An understated lifestyle choice
Over the last few decades, the age and lives of those able to afford high-end watches crafted from precious metal have changed significantly. It is now a younger generation that is shopping for this kind of watches and they, as well as the generation before them, live a far more active lifestyle. In such an environment white gold is better at home, and more in-line with current trends, then yellow or pink gold.
A watch in white gold often looks more understated and ‘sportive’ than other colors of gold. This is best illustrated by the Breguet Classique 7147, which is as traditional a dress watch as you can get them these days. In rose gold, it looks like Abraham-Louis Breguet has crafted it himself, giving it a vintage appearance even when new. That exact same watch, with exactly the same dial, fitted with a white gold case gives the watch a bit more of a contemporary edge.
The subtle beauty of white gold
That still leaves the question, why not opt for steel, when available? Here white gold has a few aces up its sleeve. First of all, while the difference with stainless steel is subtle, it is significant enough. White gold has a slightly warmer tone and in general, reflects the light in a softer way then stainless steel. When wearing such a watch on a daily basis, this will make a difference in the way you appreciate the watch, as it just offers that little bit extra and that is what luxury is sometimes all about.
Another difference is the weight. A watch in 18 karat gold will weigh significantly more than the same watch crafted from stainless steel. It is this heft that can give a very pleasant feeling around the wrist, as it in a way confirms that you are wearing something special and precious.
Sometimes you also simply have no choice. When you want a Rolex Day-Date, there is no steel option, neither with the Nautilus Perpetual Calendar from Patek Philippe. Even with watches where there is a stainless steel option, the brands are often clever enough to make sure that there is a subtle difference, for example in dial color or bracelet design, so that they don’t look exactly the same. Those subtle differences can also add to the want-factor of white gold, further securing its place in the world of watches.