They may be the midway point between full gold and full steel, but there’s no denying that two-tone watches have their own distinct personality. Regardless if two-tone is currently deemed on-trend by the watch industry intelligentsia, fans of this distinct style appreciate the classic mélange of metals. And when it comes to two-tone watches, nobody does it better than Rolex. In fact, Rolex has coined a term for its range of steel and gold watches: Rolesor. So, if you can’t get enough of the stylish combination of steel and gold, then here’s a round-up of men’s Rolex watches to dig into.
A Quick Explanation of Rolesor
Rolesor is the name given to Rolex watches that combine steel and gold on one watch. Rolex Rolesor watches comes in three varieties:
- Yellow Rolesor: 18k yellow gold + steel
- Everose Rolesor: 18k Everose gold (the brand’s proprietary rose gold alloy) + steel
- White Rolesor: Steel + 18k White Gold bezel
Since steel and white gold isn’t technically a two-tone watch, we’ll keep this particular conversation to Yellow Rolesor and Everose Rolesor men’s Rolex watches. Top tip: if you look at the last digit of the Rolex reference number, it’ll tell you what material the watch is made of.
- 1 – Everose Rolesor
- 3 – Yellow Rolesor
- 4 – White Rolesor
Men’s Rolex Two-Tone Datejust
Among all of Rolex’s watches, the two-tone colorway is most associated with the Datejust watch. Characterized by its date window at 3 o’clock topped with a Cyclops magnification lens protruding from the crystal above, the Datejust has been a mainstay of the brand’s lineup for well over seven decades. Over this long history, the Datejust has grown to become Rolex’s most diverse collection.
Not only can you choose between a men’s Rolex two-tone Datejust with either yellow gold or Everose gold, there’s also the option between a 36mm case or a 41mm case. What’s more, gold bezels come in fluted, smooth, or diamond-set styles while two-tone bracelets can be had in the three-link Oyster or in the five-link Jubilee designs.
Whether you go vintage or modern, the variety within the Datejust range will make any two-tone watch enthusiast happy.
Rolex Two-Tone Daytona
Rolex’s famed chronograph model, the Daytona, also comes in a two-tone version—but only in Yellow Rolesor. The watch sports a 40mm steel case topped with a yellow gold bezel engraved with a tachymeter scale. Also on the steel case are two yellow gold chronograph pushers flanking a yellow gold winding crown. Fitted to the case is an Oyster bracelet with yellow gold center links flanked by a row of steel links on either side. Dial options are plentiful, ranging from fresh white to sleek black to luxurious diamond-set.
The two-tone men’s Rolex Daytona made its debut in 1988 in the form of the ref. 16523, which is often nicknamed the “Zenith Daytona” thanks to the Zenith El Primero base movement that powers the watch. This was eventually replaced in 2000 with the two-tone Daytona 116523, which boasts an in-house Rolex movement. Finally, the Daytona ref. 116503 launched in 2016 with a revamped tachymeter scale on the bezel.
Though the two-tone Daytona retains its signature sporty appeal it also benefits from a dash of elegance thanks to all the yellow gold details.
The Submariner may have been born as a tool watch for scuba divers in the 1950s but today, it’s recognized as one of the world’s greatest luxury sports watches. And that luxuriousness is especially true of the two-tone editions Rolex Submariner that pair yellow gold with stainless steel.
Aside from the earliest references with 38mm and the brand new models with 41mm cases, the vast majority of Rolex Submariner watches feature 40mm cases. On top of those cases are rotating bezels that are graduated to 60 minutes to allow divers to time how long they’ve spent underwater. Two-tone Submariner models have yellow gold bezels that house black or blue bezel inserts, which depending on the model, can be fashioned from aluminum or ceramic. Like several other men’s Rolex Professional watches, the Submariner comes with an Oyster bracelet, which includes of yellow gold center links on the two-tone references.
The very first two-tone Sub debuted in 1983 with the introduction of the Submariner ref. 16803, which was then replaced by the Submariner ref. 16613 in 1988. In 2009, Rolex released the Yellow Rolesor Submariner ref. 116613 with, for the first time, a Cerachrom (the brand’s proprietary ceramic material) bezel. The newest two-tone Rolex Submariner is now the 41mm ref. 126613, which houses a new movement inside its larger case.
Rolex expanded its tool watch lineup in the 1950s with the release of the GMT-Master watch specifically for commercial airline pilots to track two time zones at once. Local time is displayed on the dial indicated via the traditional hour hand while reference time (which during that era was Greenwich Mean Time or GMT) is displayed on the rotating 24-hour bezel via a 24-hour hand. On the GMT-Master models, the two hour hands are synched (thus reference time is set by rotating the bezel) whereas, on GMT-Master II models, the two hour hands can be set independently.
The GMT-Master lineup is one of the few men’s Rolex Professional models that has, at one time or another, been offered in Yellow Rolesor and Everose Rolesor. The GMT-Master ref. 1675/3, GMT-Master ref. 16753, GMT-Master II 16713, and GMT-Master II 116713 are the yellow gold and steel versions. Rolex no longer makes yellow gold and steel GMT-Master II watches, manufacturing the two-tone Everose gold and steel GMT-Master II ref. 126711 instead.
Regardless of the color of gold used, two-tone GMT-Master watches have 40mm cases. Furthermore, Rolesor GMT-Master bezel options have evolved over the years, from aluminum inserts in brown, black, or brown/yellow to Cerachrom bezels in black or black/brown. The bi-colored bezels on two-tone GMT-Master watches are often nicknamed “Root Beer.” Finally, GMT-Master models have alternated between Oyster bracelets and Jubilee bracelets depending on the era.
Introduced in 2012, the Sky-Dweller is Rolex newest model to date. It is also one of the brand’s most complicated, combining an annual calendar complication with a dual time zone display. The annual calendar complication means that the watch only requires the date and month windows to be corrected on March 1st—and it will automatically adjust itself for the remainder of the year (as long as it has power).
Initially only available in full gold, the two-tone Sky-Dweller ref. 326933 joined the collection in 2017. The watch marries a 42mm steel case with a yellow gold fluted Ring Command bezel (that allows wearers to choose which function to set when rotated), a yellow gold winding crown, and a steel/yellow gold Oyster bracelet. Dial choices include black, white, or champagne, all home to luminous hand pointing to lume-filled baton hour markers.
Men’s Rolex Two-Tone Yacht-Master
Whilst the Datejust is Rolex’s most varied dress watch collection, the Yacht-Master is its most varied sports watch collection. Launched in 1992 as an ultra-luxe nautical-inspired watch, the Yacht-Master clearly borrowed design elements from the Submariner but with a less technical approach and dressier aesthetic.
Although the model is available in several sizes, the two-tone men’s Rolex Yacht-Master comes with a 40mm case, complete with a rotating bezel marked to 60 minutes and a date window on the dial. Interestingly, though the steel case has a solid gold bezel, the winding crown is steel rather than gold—an unusual design touch when compared to other two-tone Rolex watches.
The first two-tone Yacht-Master iteration was the yellow gold and stainless steel ref. 16623, launched in 2005. Almost a decade later, Rolex replaced it with the two-tone Yacht-Master ref. 116621 in 2016, this time opting for Everose gold instead of yellow. This reference proved to be short-lived when it was replaced with the similar-looking Yacht-Master ref. 126621, which was equipped with a new generation movement.
The Two-Tone Men’s Rolex
From classic watches to travel watches to sports watches, the two-tone colorway looks great on just about every men’s Rolex watch.
If you’ve generally dismissed the pairing of steel and gold as “not your thing”, give it another try and you might just be surprised at how fantastic it looks on your wrist.