Everyone loves rose gold. The catalyst for this obsession can be traced back to the lifestyle tech company Apple and its rose gold Apple Watch Edition and iPhone 6. These launches, in 2014 and 2015 respectively, boomed interest in the colour, confirming the brand’s reputation as a design and tech visionary. Searches on Google using the term ‘rose gold’ spiked four-fold at the time of the iPhone 6 launch and, three years later, show little sign of waning. More recently, American Express launched a limited-edition Amex Gold Card in rose gold, extensively hyped on YouTube.
Rose gold’s heritage and use in luxury
Even so, rose gold isn’t just a millennial fad. Gold’s association with luxury is well-known, but the gentler, warmer quality of the rose version has granted it a permanent place at many high-end brands. Fine watchmakers started tapping into this flattering shade very early on – back in the sixteenth century, in fact, with their “oignon” watches -, and even more widely after Omega released its iconic Constellation timepieces in 1952 – named in honour of the Constellation plane that started its career during World War 2 – in steel, yellow gold and rose gold. Rose gold has since become a regular feature of many Fine Watch brands, from the elegant simplicity of the Longines Record to the curves of the Bucherer Manero Flyback. When Audemars Piguet launched Code 11.59 back in January at SIHH, the flagship model in the new range was in rose gold. Baselworld too brought an array of rose gold watches, from Patek Philippe’s Annual Calendar Regulator to Chopard with the L.U.C Flying T Twin.
Rose is holding its own against a range of other golds on the market. And competition is rife! Alongside white and grey options, yellow gold has also been fashioned into new alloys. For instance, A. Lange & Söhne has produced a honey-coloured gold that’s heat-treated to make it harder than traditional gold. The even tougher Magic Gold from Hublot mixes 24k gold with boron carbide, a component found in bulletproof vests. Brands can gain edge by owning a certain shade or hardness of gold; the range of alloys combining gold with copper, silver, rhodium, palladium, iron oxide, etc. is sufficiently vast to keep every alchemist-watchmaker happy. Especially those who are tempted by rose. Think of Rolex’s Everose and the ongoing communication about the secret formula it uses to achieve this unique tone.
Rose gold is gender-free
Rose gold’s luxury credentials don’t fully explain its recent rise in popularity. The debate on what is considered typically male or female has arguably created the space for rose gold to reach out to men as well as women – to the point that a new phrase has been coined to describe the colour: Bro’s Gold.
Combined with accessories such as a smartphone or a fine watch, rose gold confers on the owner an added layer of strength and confidence. Men use rose gold to assert their indifference to gender and sexual stereotypes. The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, launched at Baselworld in 2018, took this idea to a new level. Not only are the strap and case fashioned in 18k Everose gold; a spectrum of coloured gems are embedded in the bezel, celebrating all forms of sexual orientation.
The expression “rose gold” has been used more than 2.8M times over the last 12 months on social channels (not including its variations). In the age of Instagram, Pinterest and other social platforms, rose gold has achieved even more widespread appeal thanks to its photogenic quality. The shade is considered ideal for complementing any skin tone, making it perfect for wrist shots.
A rose gold option, then, is becoming de rigueur at least at some point in the brand experience if not in the product line itself. To ignore its value to modern enthusiasts would be to pass up the opportunity to claim a place in one of the liveliest of cultural conversations. As the Guardian’s Jess Cartner-Morley puts it, “a shade that once embodied gender hang-ups has become (…) proudly worn by a fashion generation for whom post-gender is reality, not science fiction”.