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Price of a Stainless-Steel Watch Compared to Gold

by MJ
©1996-2008 by Marc Rochkind. All rights reserved.

I was curious about whether the price difference between SS and gold reflected mainly the difference in the cost of the two metals, or whether some sort of market pricing was being practiced. Also, I wanted to know whether there was any consistency between manufacturers. For a quick check, I made a list of 13 representative watches for which I had price information--light and heavy, with bracelets and without. I used price lists for Rolex and Breitling, and Watches 1998 Annual for the rest.






Breitling Crosswind





Daniel Roth Automatic Chronograph





IWC Ingenieur Automatic










JLC Reverso Duoface





JLC Reverso Grand Taille





Breitling Crosswind





Daniel Roth Automatic Sport










JLC Reverso Duoface





JLC Reverso Grand Taille





Rolex Datejust





Rolex Daytona





Avg. for watches with bracelets


Avg. for watches with straps


Unfortunately, I didn't have the weights of the watches. If I did, I would try to estimate the cost of the gold version from its weight, percentage of that weight attributable to case and bracelet (if any), and the price of gold. That calculation will have to wait, however.

The price differences mostly make sense, knowing what we know about watches. For example, the Breitling Crosswind is well-known as a big watch, whereas the JLC Reverso Taille is of average weight. However, the difference of only $2,500 between the SS and gold JLC Reverso Duofaces with strap seems too low--perhaps the gold price I have listed is wrong. Or, perhaps this small difference is attributable to the elaborate case, the machining of which accounts for a big chunk of the cost, regardless of metal. (The Reverso case is made in-house by JLC, which is extremely unusual these days.)

Unfortunately, all of the watches were within the same price range: $14,950 to $20,975 for the gold version with bracelet. There are two reasons for this: (1) few gold watches sell for less than about $8,000 with strap or about $15,000 with bracelet, and (2) it's hard to find a gold watch above $21,000 with bracelet or $12,000 with strap for which an SS version exists.

Anyway, we can conclude that it costs around $5000 extra for the gold version of a watch with strap, and another $8500 if it has a bracelet. The numbers are a bit higher for heavy watches, and a bit lower for light ones.

The $8500 bracelet number is supported by a Breitling price sheet I have:

Bracelet Width SS Gold Diff.
Pilot 18-22mm $950 $10,000 $9,050
Navitimer not given $950 $10,000 $9,050
Professional not given $200 $9,000 $8,800
Rouleaux 18mm $600 $8,200 $7,600

About one thing I seem to have proved the obvious: If you must have a gold watch, but funds are limited, get it with a strap. Still appropriate for any occasion (if it's black crocodile, that is), and you save a bundle of money by foregoing the extra jewelry.

(8894 hits when counter was turned off on 2-June-2008)

Last Updated: 19-Jul-2003 05:04:36 PM

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