All hail the return of yellow gold


All hail the return of yellow gold
om Stubbs
Our resident stylist on watches to worship, timepieces for ostentatious looks, and Panerai’s trés-chic white-out
The lure, the lustre! Gold’s most
majestic tone makes a triumphant
return to the horological arena
’ve been getting more pagan of
late, largely as a response to the
fashion and luxury lifestyle.
By the time I reached Geneva
for January’s SIHH watch fair
pilgrimage (in the cramped
slot between the Milan and Paris
menswear shows), I was worshipping
the wind, water and air gods
during my early morning run.
At the SIHH, I witnessed a divine
vision. Behold, Ra, the Egyptian sun
god, had materialised again on Earth
in self-winding 18ct yellow gold
octagon-bezel form. Ra – aka the new
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak – comes
in a savvy 37mm size. Its gorgeous
brushed and polished yellow-gold
bracelet, offset with a blue Grande
Tapisserie dial, strongly evokes
Ancient Egypt.
I fell down and prostrated myself
(as best I could without spilling my
espresso), while I devoured the full
splendour of the “New Royal Yolk” (as
I fondly call it). And so it came to pass
that yellow is officially the gold to be
worshipping once again.
Yellow is the original ancient
gold, which mere mortals have
lusted after for eons. When
prospectors said: “there’s gold in
them thar hills”, it was yellow.
Yellow gold in abundance
triggers the power and instinct
that has sent man a bit loopy,
with both learned and
primeval emotions.
We’ve been conditioned
to love and follow yellow gold
from the time of the Mayans and
Egyptians, as well as through the
Greek and Roman empires. Bullion
is yellow gold. Gold dust is yellow.
When in molten form in the foundry,
yellow gold is blinding, like liquid sun.
No wonder we worship it.
Which begs the question: why
is it that yellow has been left in the
horological shade in recent years?
Once perceived as uncouth, it is now
witnessing a rebirth, helped along by
the fact that the 1970s is again looking
palatable, and this is ushering yellow
back where it belongs – centre stage.
In its natural state, pure 24-carat
gold is reddish yellow and is remixed
for stylistic effect – and it is these
colour variations we’ve become more
accustomed to in recent times. Now,
however, we are seeing a return
to purity. A higher carat denotes
Clockwise from top,
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Grande Tapisserie; Omega De
Ville Prestige; Bulgari Roma
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Grande
Tapisserie, £32,200, 020 7659 7300,; Bulgari Roma,
£18,400, 020 7297 4440,;
Rolex Day-Date on President bracelet,
£23,300, 020 7024 7300,;
Omega Constellation Globemaster,
£13,670, Omega De Ville Prestige,
£15,180, 0845 272 3100, omegawatches.
com; Dior Chiffre Rouge I03,
£42,500 (yellow gold bracelet),
020 7172 0172,
Something I love
Panerai Radiomir 1940 white dial
anerai fans are due to tune into
an exciting style frequency.
For the first time in the Florence
marque’s history, the Radiomir 1940
will be launched in a white dial
version. Its striking – albeit vintagelooking – new aesthetic is tantalising.
The cushion-shaped gorgeousness
is perfectly proportioned; earning
its right to be big and bold at 42mm.
The polished steel case is juxtaposed
with an untreated calf strap, while
Arabic numerals are picked out with
luminous markers on the dial. All in all,
it’s a super-chic arrangement. Now all
I need to do is strap this watch to my
wrist, don my speedos and oversized
Panama hat, head for the beach
with a glass of Gavi di Gavi and
an iPlayer download of BBC Radio 3’s
Late Junction. Killer time.
White Dial Radiomir 1940 £7,400;
020 7312 6894;
stubbs’ stars
H. Moser & Cie
Swiss Alp
Bremont MBII
Tested in conjunction with
aviation safety firm MartinBaker, this is one of Bremont’s
most compelling looking
watches, with its knurled
barrel case. Also available in
orange and green. £3,595;
0845 094 0690;
This limited-edition
timepiece (only 50
models will be made)
may feature a
curved rectangular
white-gold case but its
finishing is steeped in
pure Swiss tradition
and is fabulously
proportioned. The
fumé sunburst-effect
dial is juxtaposed with
an aged, beige kudu
leather strap and the
brand’s signature lime makes
a strong statement as the
strap lining – it all amounts
to divine styling.
£18,500; 020 7534 9810;
Hublot Classic
This watch melds beautifully
with my adopted “Total Grey”
dress code, even down to its
crocodile strap. This is a chic
Hublot, with its sunburst finish
dial set against the brushed
titanium case. £5,000 (38mm);
020 3214 9970;
Suave: Noel Coward; Dolce & Gabbana
spring/summer 2016; Boucheron Reflet
(£2,040, 020 7514 9170)
All hail the
return of
yellow gold
more pure gold in the mix, while the
more you dilute the alloy, the lighter
it gets: silver to lighten, copper to add
a pinkish tone, or rhodium to plate
white gold and add a high shine that
won’t tarnish.
Now for the purity statistics: 24ct is
99.99 per cent and a deep fascinating
yellow; 22ct is 91.7 per cent; 18ct
equates to 75 per cent; 14ct is 58.3 per
cent; and 9ct is 37.5 per cent.
In terms of trends, the fixation with
white gold, which gained in popularity
in the late 1990s and 2000s, has now
mostly subsided according to some
trading in Hatton Garden, London’s
jewellery quarter. Ditto, those gold
enthusiasts who opted for rose or pink,
hugely popular in recent times, are also
rethinking their options. Personally, I
think pink gold is starting to look rather
quaint now. Plus, it doesn’t go with my
red/gold complexion; whereas, yellow
gold, rather conveniently, always has.
Yellow gold style to me signifies
confident vecchio mondo brazenness
and yet, for many, it also means
classically suave. Yellow stands for
original, unadulterated flash glamour;
think Tutankhamun.
Audemars Piguet has always been
ahead of the curve in this respect.
In the mid-1970s the Swiss manufacture
launched its first yellow gold Royal Oak
with an extraordinary matching dial.
This was a bold reversal of the very
first Royal Oak, designed in steel by
Gérald Genta and launched in 1972
with a gold-equivalent price tag.
The raison d’être of Genta’s original
game-changing ethos was to
realise luxury in the form of a
steel alloy, not a precious metal.
The new precious alloy models,
though, are pretty stunning too. The
multifaceted, almost cubist form of
the Royal Oak, with its brushed-versuspolished surfaces, suits its yellow guise
very well, although it is, curiously,
incongruous to the original ethos. But
so what? The latest AP pieces set the
style stakes high; remarkable designs
in unabashed golden glory, they work
divinely as masculine jewellery.
More knock-out 1970s chic comes
courtesy of Bulgari, with the return of
its 1975 yellow Roma. Relaunched in
limited edition last year, the 41mm,
18ct yellow gold works best with a
black dial. It’s a fetching piece of
Rolex mixes 18ct gold at its
in-house foundry, according to its
own secret recipe, which explains
why its Day-Date 40mm on a
President bracelet is another
work of sheer brilliance;
the fluted-bezel style looks
particularly fine in yellow gold.
Omega, meanwhile, offers more
yellow fluted action with its new
Constellation Globemaster model,
but also always keeps a yellow gold
De Ville in its permanent collection.
And the Dior Chiffre Rouge I03,
available in vivid yellow gold with
baguette-cut diamonds and yellow
gold bracelet, is definitely worth
making a sacrifice for.
Offset the lavish silk trend with
a suitably suave timepiece
new trend for decorative
patterns on lavish silks,
modern satins and even
fine linen shirting heralds
a sea change in men’s style.
For a long time, men’s tailoring
and evening wear has been too
straight, so the arrival of this
parade of ornate styles
provides an antidote. It also
ushers in some fresh, eccentric
watch-style possibilities, as rules
about gender suitability and
codes become diffused.
Think Noel Coward
lounging at home, or at a summer
dinner party wearing one of Dolce
& Gabbana’s printed silk twill
jackets, inspired by the Chinese
Palace in Palermo (right). Or
Bottega Veneta’s new breed of
light, shirt-like Oxford boating
blazers in gorgeous lime and
maroon “cupro” (a silky cotton).
Or perhaps one of Hermès’ “Surprise à
la Connétable” emblazoned jackets with
its classic flora and fauna scarf motifs.
And for those who don’t fancy the
full-patterned, tailored and draped
look just yet, there is always Berluti’s
flamboyant shirts inspired by the
architectural designs of Le Corbusier,
and the 1970s’ geometric printed shirts
by Italian tailoring specialists Boglioli.
Gucci is at the vanguard of this story.
Under Alessandro Michele’s creative
direction, it has been transported to a
sexy, androgynous world, with the
brand’s new watches in keeping with
this gender-blurring eccentricity.
The Gucci G-Timeless, with the new
“Bee” motif dominating the dial, is a
fine example of unconventionality,
while the unusual, Plexiglass
rectangular bangle watch is being worn
by both sexes. The case shape works in
tandem with a compelling colour; the
lozenge case is like a work of modernist
jewellery with hues including yellow
gold with sunburst dial, white gold
with charcoal, platinum with blue, and
rose with chocolate brown.
For more colour, turn to the
Parmigiani Tonda 1950
Meteorite with its textured
dial in deep-blue grey, or
the Tonda 1950 Poppy, in
deep coral with “ice and a
slice” rose gold bracelet.
More antique patterns
come courtesy of
Jaquet-Droz. Its
Grande Seconde
Paillonnée and
petite Heure
Minute Paillonnée,
both inspired by
an antique pocket
watch made by
the brand in 1790,
are decorated
with exquisite
But for me,
nothing beats
elongated and ridged
rectangle Reflet
(pictured left) with its
striking blue crocodile
strap and brilliant
night-sky aventurine
and diamond dial;
this is the epitome of
androgynous statement.
Pairing a futuristic,
bright timepiece with
a bee-incrusted pyjama
two-piece might seem
a bit outré for some chaps,
but – mark my words –
it will prove to be the
ultimate evening wear
at summer parties in 2016.

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