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The History of Two-Tone Watches

While two-tone watches were most popular in the 1980s, this style first appeared decades before—as early as the 1930s. In the time spanning between the 1930s and the rise in popularity of two-tone watches, simple and elegant pieces were more popular. Following WWII and during reconstruction, enthusiasts wanted a minimalist style that straddled innovation and tradition. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when Rolex, and similar watch manufacturers, got bolder with their design that two-tone watches saw a rise in popularity.

Two-Tone Rolex Watches: Cultivating an Image

The popularity of these watches was helped greatly by Hollywood. In Magnum P.I., Tom Selleck sported a Rolex GMT-Master 16750 while numerous other big-name Hollywood actors wore two-tone Rolex watches both on-screen and off. For Rolex, this accomplished two goals: it introduced the public to two-tone sports-watches, and it established that to own one was to be, at the time, cool, hip and sexy.

Two-tone watches were a symbol of working hard and playing hard. Many men received a solid gold watch as a retirement gift, but for those still working toward retirement, two-tone watches were active and happening.

The Return of Rolex Two-Tone Watches

Like many trends, the popularity of two-tone watches is coming back and Rolex is happy to oblige. Designing watches with different alloys and incorporating colors into some of their watches has given watch collectors a fresh take on two-tone watches. Within the Rolex inventory, many collections feature a selection of beautiful two-tone pieces.


This versatile collection features a variety of two-tone watches and has many vintage models for collectors to enjoy. One example is the Rolex Datejust, ref. 16013. This stainless steel and yellow gold watch was made in 1987, during the height of popularity for this style. It features a gold bezel and dial, and has the distinct look of many vintage two-tone pieces from that era. As these watches have grown in popularity, similar styles with a modern twist have been created. One example is the Rolex Datejust II 116333, which has all of the same attributes as its 1987 predecessor, but with a more modern appearance.


Like the Datejust collection, many Submariner watches embrace mixing alloys and colors to create unique timepieces. For instance, the Submariner Date 16613 stands out from many other luxury watches due to a rich, deep gold dial, blue bezel, and a stainless steel and gold band. The yellow gold alloy that Rolex used for this band is lighter than the gold used for the dial, making it a striking two-tone Rolex watch that stands out even amongst the pack.

Frequently Asked Questions About Two-Tone Rolex Watches

Does Rolex make two-tone watches?

Yes, Rolex was one of the first watchmakers to manufacture two-tone watches in the 1930s. It was the Oyster Perpetual, ref. 3131 and ref. 3132. Two-tone Rolex watches, also called Rolesors, can be found in every Rolex collection today.

What is a two-tone Rolex?

A two-tone Rolex watch typically features gold and stainless steel, but any combination of two different metals used to create a watch is considered two-tone.

Do two-tone Rolexes hold value?

Yes, two-tone Rolex watches do hold their value in most cases. As either a classic, vintage timepiece created decades before or a modern luxury watch, two-tone Rolex watches typically sell on the secondary marketplace for $7,000 to $24,000.

Are two-tone watches making a comeback?

As trends and styles begin to circle back, two-tone watches are getting more popular. People enjoy retro jewelry and style, so watches from that era and watches with a modern twist are gaining popularity.

Is a two-tone Daytona a good investment?

Investing in any two-tone Rolex watch is likely a good idea. Two-tone Daytona watches are typically very popular, and listings range from $19,000 to around $130,000.

When were two-tone watches popular?

Popularity in two-tone watches began to rise in the 1970s and reached a peak in the 1980s with popular movies, shows, and celebrities sporting them.

Two Tone Rolex Watches Pricing Guide