How Long Do Gold Tone Watches Last? (We Found Out)

There are many gold watches on the market, but as you might have guessed, not all of them are made with actual gold. Instead, they are gold-toned, but how long do these gold-toned watches last?

Depending on the type of golden tone, a gold-toned watch will last anywhere between 1 to 5 years before it starts to fade. The thicker the layer of the golden tone, the longer it will last. Expensive watches usually have a thicker layer.

Of course, how long the golden tone will last depends on several factors. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the types of golden tones, as well as how quickly they’ll start to wear out.

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How Long Does A Gold-Toned Watch Last?

When we’re talking about gold-toned watches, we’re talking about watches that have a golden color layered over the base material of the case and strap.

Fun fact: About 95% of all golden watches are actually gold-toned or gold-plated!

There are two main ways that these watches get their golden color. Usually, the golden tone is a layer of electroplated metal. This layer can be rather thin and can wear off over time.

But this way is much better than the alternative, a golden tone.

A gold-toned watch is basically a watch that’s painted gold. This will wear off much quicker than a gold-plated watch, as only a thin layer is present. Usually, you can already see the effects after a year of wear.

A gold-plated watch is preferable over a gold-toned watch. When a watch is gold-plated, there’s a small layer of electroplated metal applied to the watch. This electroplated metal is a mixture that includes some real gold, but in such a small quantity that it can’t really be measured.

However, since it’s a metal alloy, this will last much longer than a lick of golden paint.

This mixture is very inexpensive to make but manages to keep that luxurious golden aesthetic. If you’re not getting an actual golden watch, then a gold-plated watch is the best way to go.

Usually, you can expect your gold-plated watch to last around 3 to 5 years before seeing signs of wear. On the other hand, a golden-tone watch will last about 1-2 years before showing signs of wear.

Will Gold-Plated Watches Fade?

As mentioned before, a gold-plated watch is a much better, longer-lasting alternative to a gold-toned watch. However, even a gold-plated watch will start to fade after a while.

A gold-plated watch will start to fade after 3-5 years of use. This duration will depend on the thickness of the layer of electroplated metal. More expensive watches usually have a thicker layer, which will last longer.

The thickness of the electroplated metal is of huge importance to how durable your gold-plated watch will be. A very thin plating will simply fade much quicker than a thicker layer.

Quite obvious, of course, but necessary to point out.

Still, even a thin layer will last you quite a few years. And with proper care, you can prolong the lifetime of the gold plating even more.

After about 3 to 5 years, you can start to see signs of wear.

You can start to see the watch’s base material, usually some steel or stainless steel.

And because the golden color is equally a layer on top of the base material, it’s difficult to fix it. That’s why you should try to avoid having to fix your golden watch for as long as possible by taking proper care of it!

How To Avoid Your Gold-Toned And Gold-Plated Watches From Fading

These electroplated metals are quite fragile, especially when the layer is very thin. That’s why proper care is even more critical with a gold-toned or gold-plated watch.

Of course, some general tips apply, like don’t drop your watch or bump it into things, but let’s get into some more specific tips here!

1. Watch Out With Fragrance

This is a very specific tip, but don’t spray your fragrance on your watch. Fragrances contain many chemicals that could quicken the fading process of your watch.

Either spray your fragrance beforehand, giving it time to completely dry down before you’re going to wear your watch. Or better yet, apply your perfume to your neck area. Applying fragrance on your wrist isn’t that good, anyway!

2. Take Your Gold-Tones Watch Off While Going To The Gym Or Swimming Pool

When you go to the gym, you’re going to sweat. And sweat isn’t very good for your gold-toned watch. Sweat is quite acidic and could lead to a quicker fading process or discoloration.

This, of course, wouldn’t be a problem with an actual golden watch, but it is with a gold-toned or gold-plated watch.

The same would go for wearing your watch in a swimming pool. Most swimming pools contain chlorine which will also alter your gold-toned watch.

Basically, avoid any contact with corrosive substances—sweat, chlorine, alcohol, etc.

3. Store Your Watch Properly

This tip goes for every watch but is especially important for these gold-toned and gold-plated watches.

Make sure to store your watch somewhere safe. Someplace where the risk of scratching is minimal. Every scratch on your gold-toned watch will be yet another tiny layer removed.

Also, make sure it’s a cool and dry space.

Temperature differences and moisture can impact the watch a lot more than you may think.

How Should You Clean A Gold-Toned Or Gold-Plated Watch

Cleaning your watch is always something to look out for. Watches are very delicate, and you can easily break or disrupt something.

Therefore, the very first step to cleaning a watch is asking yourself whether it’s actually needed or not.

And before even exposing your watch to any water, make sure it’s water resistant. If not, you can cause severe and expensive damage to your piece.

If you have a rather expensive gold-toned or gold-plated watch, cleaning it will become inevitable. And once that time comes, just remember these simple steps.

  1. Mix lukewarm water with mild dish soap.
  2. Take a gentle brush with soft bristles and start cleaning your watch.
  3. Rinse your watch with a damp washcloth.
  4. Make sure to dry your watch overnight in the open air.

This is a straightforward process, but a lot can actually go wrong here.

Firstly, it’s important to use mild dish soap with no perfumes or dyes. These could damage the watch more than they would clean it.

Secondly, it’s essential to let your watch dry in the open air, overnight. This way, all the water and left-over soap can evaporate, ensuring minimal risk of stains or fading.

Are Gold-Toned And Gold-Plated Watches Any Good

Purchasing a gold-toned or gold-plated watch might seem a little fake to you. You’re buying a gold watch that isn’t actual gold. But the fact of the matter is that almost 95% of all golden-colored watches are either gold-plated or gold-toned.

And a gold-toned or gold-plated watch doesn’t necessarily mean the watch is of lower quality either. The electroplated metals that are used are often of high quality, and they do contain some real gold, even if that amount is almost negligible.

On top of that, the electroplated metals are a layer over an already great material, the stainless steel base. Now, you don’t buy these gold-plated watches for the stainless steel base, but the fact is that this material in and of itself is already of high quality.

When you have the option between a gold-toned and a gold-plated watch, though, always go for the gold-plated watches. These are of higher quality and although a little more expensive (in most cases) they will also last you longer!

A gold-toned or gold-plated watch is a fantastic alternative to the more expensive real gold watches. Gold-toned and gold-plated watches make up for 95% of gold-colored watches and are an easy entry point for a stylish and luxurious look.

No one will look at you weird for wearing a gold-toned or gold-plated watch. In fact, most won’t even see a difference. This makes wearing gold-toned and gold-plated watches perfectly okay and not tacky at all.


Jasper has always been a fan of watches. But when he took on a project of restoring a nearly 30-year-old timepiece, he was hooked. Throughout the years, he has learned a lot about horology and shared his passion on Watches of Today!

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