Steel Magnolias: Status Watches For (Somewhat) Less

8:00 AM 11/17/2017

by Degen Pener

Steel is no longer considered second-best to precious metals when it comes to watches.

Steel Watches Split - Publicity - H 2017

In October, a steel Rolex Daytona worn by Paul Newman became the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction, gaveling for $17.8 million including fees at Phillips. The watch that previously held the record? A Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 perpetual calendar with chronograph in not gold or platinum but steel. The sales of these vintage pieces come at a time when the watch industry is offering some of its top-of-the-line pieces in durable steel for the first time, allowing aficionados to get their hands on such rarefied designs as a Jaquet Droz dress watch or MB&F’s Legacy Machine No. 1 at a lower entry-level price point.

  • Glashutte

    Glashutte Original debuted its self-winding chronograph, the 42mm Senator Chronograph Panorama Date, in 2014 in red gold and platinum. It’s now released a sportier option in steel with a 70-hour power reserve and a new dial featuring blue SuperLuminova details. Joel McHale is a fan of the brand. $14,900, at Westime, Beverly Hills, and Feldmar Watch Company.


  • Girard-Perregaux


    Girard-Perregaux’s traveler’s watch, the 1966 Dual Time, was released in stainless steel last year. The beautifully finished 40mm piece features a clean white dial, elegant leaf-shaped hands and 46-hour power reserve. $10,500 on steel, $9,800 on strap at Westime, Los Angeles. 


  • Carl F. Bucherer


    Carl F. Bucherer’s new 43mm Manero Flyback in steel has a vintage feel and sports a bluish-grey dial and grey alligator strap. Charlize Theron wore a Carl F. Bucherer watch in Atomic Blonde. $6,900 at Westime, Beverly Hills and Feldmar Watch Company Los Angeles.

  • Blancpain


    Last year, Blancpain’s Villeret Annual Calendar with GMT became available in steel. Classic in its looks, this 40mm automatic timepiece has a dual-time-zone function, a trio of windows showing day, date and month, and a 72-hour power reserve. $27,300, at Westime, Beverly Hills, and Feldmar Watch Company, Los Angeles.


  • H. Moser & Cie

    A dressy take on the sports watch, H. Moser & Cie’s automatic 42.8mm Pioneer Centre Seconds, previously made in red gold and titanium, now exists in steel as well. The timepiece, which comes on a rubber strap, stands out with the boutique brand’s signature fume dial in dark blue. It includes SuperLuminova elements on the hands and dial and is water-resistant to nearly 400 feet. $11,900, at Westime, Los Angeles.

  • Jaeger-LeCoultre


    Jaeger-LeCoultre’s iconic Reverso wristwatch famously allows the wearer to flip over the case when needed, whether for discretion, protect the face, or reveal what’s on the reverse. Its Reverso Tribute Calendar, which reverses to show a second dial displaying an additional time zone, was released in 2016 in pink gold for $23,900. It came out this year in steel for nearly half the price, $12,700. Steve Carrell and Robert Downey Jr. have worn the Swiss maker’s timepieces. At Jaeger-LeCoultre, Beverly Hills.


  • Jaquet Droz

    Hidden Figures’ star Aldis Hodge is a fan of Jaquet Droz’s elegant dress watches, including the Grande Seconde collection with asymmetrical sub-dials. Last year, the brand made one with a deep black dial in steel, the Grande Seconde Off-Centered Onyx, which would shine on any red carpet. It has a 68-hour power reserve and is available in either 43mm or 39mm. $10,700, at Feldmar Watch Company.


  • Chopard

    Chopard’s L.U.C. dress watch collection now includes the 40mm L.U.C XP in steel with blued numerals and blue cashmere strap. Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Renner and Michael Fassbender have worn Chopard L.U.C. watches to the Academy Awards. $9,250 at Chopard boutiques or



  • MB&F


    Known for its avant-garde horological machines that call space ships, MB&F also produces equally stylish but more traditional pieces in its Legacy Machines collection, including the Legacy Machine No. 1, which has been produced in red gold, white gold, platinum and titanium. For what it’s dubbed its Final Edition of the LM1 series, the small maker this year debuted this 44mm manually-wound watch in steel in a limited edition of just 18. With a 14mm flying balance wheel, an innovative vertical power reserve indicator, and two white lacquer sub-dials (for displaying the completely independent dual-time zones) — all on a chocolate sunburst dial — the watch has an exceptionally beautiful three dimensionality. $79,000, at Westime, Los Angeles.


  • Parmigiani Fleurier


    Parmigiani Fleurier’s extra-flat 40mm Tonda 1950 debuted this year in steel with sub-seconds dial and micro rotor, $9,900, at Le Studio Parmigiani Fleurier, Miami.


  • Ralph Lauren


    Previously available only in gold, Ralph Lauren’s square Art Deco-inspired 867 watch, 35 mm in diameter, now comes in steel with either a black or white dial mixing Arabic and Roman numerals. The self-winding movement has a power reserve of 42 hours. Nick Jonas wore a Ralph Lauren timepiece to this year’s Met Gala. $4,950 on a steel bracelet, at Ralph Lauren, Beverly Hills. 


  • Rolex


    Rolex’s new 42mm dual-time-zone Sky-Dweller, shown here in a champagne-colored dial, is offered in 2017 for the first time in highly corrosion-resistant 904L steel and yellow gold. Such athletes as LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andre Iguodala have all been spotted wearing a Sky-Dweller. $17,150, at Rolex Boutique Gearys Rodeo, Beverly Hills.


  • Vacheron Constantin

    Vacheron Constantin’s new Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 is the first steel timepiece to be introduced into the Historiques collection, which re-interprets the watchmaker’s iconic designs from its vaults. Inspired by a watch from 1942, the reference 4240, this new 40mm piece features a two-tone dial, alligator leather band, in navy or burgundy, blued-steel hands for hours, minutes and seconds, a fourth hand in red to show the date, and window displays below 12 o’clock that display the day of the week and month of the year. American Crime Story: Versace star Edgar Ramirez is a fan of Vacheron Constantin. $19,500, at Vacheron Constantin, Beverly Hills.




  • Piaget

    Piaget’s 42mm all-steel Polo S collection, a 2016 update of its classic Polo sports watch, features luminescent hour markers and date window. This gray-dial model is a favorite of actor and brand ambassador Michael B. Jordan. $9,350, at Piaget, Beverly Hills. 


  • Cartier

    Celebrating the 100th anniversary of its iconic tank watch, Cartier has released its Tank Americaine in steel. The largest of three sizes available is a 45mm x 26mm automatic model with sapphire cabochon crown. Over the last century, everyone from Rudolf Valentino and Gary Cooper to Angelina Jolie and Michelle Obama has worn a Cartier tank. $5,750 at Cartier, Beverly Hills.