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Watch Review

Our Favorite Yellow Gold Rolex Sports Watches

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Paul Altieri

While most of Rolex’s tool watches began as utilitarian, stainless steel timepieces made to serve practical purposes, many of these models have evolved into luxurious sports watches available in a slew of materials and colorways. It’s hard to deny that popular Rolex watches, such as the Submariner, GMT-Master, and Daytona are now proudly worn as status watches rather than essential tool watches. This is particularly true if the watches are fashioned from solid 18k yellow gold, which by the way, is cast at Rolex’s in-house state-of-art foundry.

Precious metal construction aside, it’s important to point out that Rolex sports model watches are still built with functionality at the forefront, regardless of whether that’s diving down to 300 meters, tracking two time zones, or timing an event down to 1/8 of a second. Additionally, yellow gold luxury watches are having a major moment right now as one of the hottest timepiece trends to have emerged in the last few years. And it’s no secret that Rolex makes some of the best yellow-gold timepieces out there. So, with that in mind, read on to find out which are our favorite yellow-gold Rolex sports watches available right now.

Yellow Gold Rolex Sports Watches Table of Contents

I.  Rolex Submariner ref. 116618

II.  Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 116718

III.  Rolex Daytona ref. 116508

IV.  Rolex Yacht-Master ref. 16628

Yellow Gold Rolex Submariner 116618

Yellow Gold Rolex Submariner 116618 Blue Dial Ceramic Bezel

Submariner 116618 Key Features:

– 18k yellow gold 40mm case

– 18k yellow gold Oyster bracelet

– Unidirectional Cerachrom bezel with 60-minute scale

– Black dial and bezel (LN) or blue dial and bezel (LB)

Is it a dive watch? Is it a status sports watch? Is it a solid gold timepiece? The Rolex Submariner Date ref. 116618 is all of that and more. The recently discontinued yellow gold iteration of Rolex’s famed diver certainly houses all the necessary features to qualify as a dive watch – water-resistant to 300 meters, a unidirectional rotating bezel, plenty of luminescence for legibility underwater, and a bracelet that can extend to fit over a diving suit.

Yet, its precious 18k yellow gold case and bracelet may make the wearer think twice about taking it on an actual dive. Sitting on top of the 40mm Oyster case of the Submariner Date ref. 116618 is a Cerachrom (Rolex’s proprietary ceramic alloy) bezel insert, which is well-suited to scuba diving life due to its resistance to scratching and fading. Rolex made the Submariner 116618 (which was the last model to sport a 40mm case before it was replaced by the new Submariner 41) in two colors: the 116618LN with a black dial and black bezel and the 116618LB with a blue dial and blue bezel.

Yellow Gold Rolex GMT-Master II 116718

Yellow Gold Rolex GMT-Master II 116718 Black Dial Ceramic Bezel Green GMT Hand

GMT-Master II 116718 Key Features:

– 18k yellow gold 40mm case

– 18k yellow gold Oyster bracelet

– Bidirectional black Cerachrom bezel with a 24-hour scale

– Black or green anniversary dial

In 2005, Rolex selected the GMT-Master II ref. 116718 to debut one of its most important modern design innovations – the Cerachrom bezel insert. Before 2005, the bezel inserts on Rolex sports watches were made from anodized aluminum; however, they have all been replaced by ceramic. And it was the yellow gold GMT-Master II ref. 116718LN that started it all.

Along with the ultra-modern Cerachrom bezel, the GMT-Master II ref. 116718 also paved the way for the redesigned Rolex pilot watch, featuring a heftier (but same official 40mm size) “Super Case” and the upgraded Caliber 3186 automatic movement. The very first GMT-Master II 116718 watches were launched as a 50th anniversary model and as such, came fitted with a green commemorative dial. However, Rolex offered the GMT-Master II reference 116718 with a black dial as an option just one year later. Rolex no longer makes yellow gold GMT-Master II watches, opting instead to use white gold or yellow gold. So the discontinued ref. 116718 was the very last GMT-Master II in yellow gold to leave the Rolex factory.

Yellow Gold Rolex Daytona 116508

Yellow Gold Rolex Daytona 116508 Green Dial

Daytona 116508 Key Features:

– 18k yellow gold 40mm case

– 18k yellow gold Oyster bracelet

– Screw-down chronograph pushers

– Fixed 18k yellow gold bezel engraved with tachymeter scale

With its familiar silhouette consisting of a 40mm Oyster case, a pair of screw-down chronograph pushers, a screw-down winding crown, an engraved tachymeter bezel, and a three-link Oyster bracelet, the Rolex Daytona is one of the most famous luxury chronographs ever made. As a result, RRolex manufactures its signature chronograph in a wide range of material options including stainless steel, yellow gold, white gold, Everose gold, steel/yellow gold, and platinum – not to mention with either metal, gem-set, or Cerachrom bezels.

However, the full yellow gold versions, such as the Rolex Daytona 116508, make the boldest impact on the wrist thanks to its gleaming metal. The ref. 116508 is the newest version of the all-yellow gold Daytona, complete with a matching 18k yellow gold bezel and bracelet. While there are plenty of dial options to choose from, the most sought-after right now is the green dial variant of the Daytona 116508. Ever since musician and notable watch collector, John Mayer highlighted the gold and green Daytona as “a sleeper hit” in a 2019 video, the demand for the Rolex model surged. This highly collectible Daytona watch is currently valued at around 2.5x its original $36,650 retail price on the secondary market.

Yellow Gold Rolex Yacht-Master 16628

Yellow Gold Rolex Yacht-Master 16628 Mother of Pearl Dial Diamond Sapphire Markers

Yacht-Master 16628 Key Features:

– 18k yellow gold 40mm case

– 18k yellow gold Oyster bracelet

– Bidirectional 18k yellow gold bezel with 60-minute scale

– Multiple dial options available

From the outset, the Yacht-Master was always positioned as an ultra-lavish Rolex sports watch. When Rolex first introduced the then-new nautical watch collection in 1992, it did so with the full 18k yellow gold Yacht-Master ref. 16628. Donning a yellow gold 40mm Oyster case, a yellow gold rotating bezel with raised polished numerals, and a yellow gold Oyster bracelet, the Rolex Yacht-Master ref. 16628 flaunts its luxuriousness comfortably, while still maintaining its sporty appeal.

The reference 16628 remains the only yellow-gold version of the Yacht-Master 40 ever made. Today, Rolex only offers the Yacht-Master 40 in steel/platinum (Rolesium), Everose gold, or steel/Everose gold and does not include any yellow gold variants in the lineup (although there is a yellow gold version of the 44mm Yacht-Master II). Rolex discontinued the production of the Yacht-Master 16628 in 2011 and it is now a coveted yellow gold sports watch among collectors on the secondary market.

Part sporty and robust, part luxurious and precious, a yellow gold Rolex sports watch offers the best of both worlds. Do you like yellow gold Rolex sports watches? If so, which is your favorite one? Tell us in the comments below!

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Paul Altieri