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Gold Watches with Steel Backs


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I recently came across a Rotary watch from about the 1930-50 period and on inspection I noticed that the case seemed to be in remarkably good condition if it was gold plated, with no tell-tale tarnish indicative of worn or rubbed gold plating. The back of the watch was a clip-on plain steel flat dome with nothing stamped on it. My question is two-fold: firstly, if the case/bezel is actually gold, would there necessarily be a mark of some kind on the outside of the case? And secondly, were many gold watches supplied with steel backs - the combination of gold touching steel would seem a bit unwise in terms of corrosion, since all but pure gold is itself an alloy with other metals?

Many thanks for any answers...:)

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General rule of thumb if it’s got a steel back it’s gold plated and if it was gold , which is highly unlikely it would be marked as such   As far as I know but I’m happy to be corrected here   :yes: consequently if the caseback is gold in colour a lot of times the watch is gold , but this doesn’t always follow. Raymond Weil watches are good example of this rule of thumb 

hope this makes sense and helps 

Edited by andyclient
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That sounds normal.

I’m not an expert but I’ve done a little research when I was buying buy 1966 Smiths Everest.

Gold plated case back are generally reserved for special engraved messages like employee length of service gift etc. Otherwise standard issue is plain steel case back. Serial numbering was not a thing back then, model number and production line code is usually engraved on the movement itself.

Most gold watches are 9k purity back then so it is pretty sturdy and can be kept quite well if not abused.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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hi Honour,collecting vintage gold watches used to be my thing.i still have a dozen of them from Rotary to Rolex literally.never seen a gold watch with a stainless steel back although i have seen the odd plated watches with plated backs.some gold watches have tiny hallmarks on the lugs and on the case backs.most have the  hallmarks on the lugs and in on the inside off the case back,Omegas are like this.many gold watches sold in this country in the past were original movements put in british gold cases[mostly made by Denison] .this was done by most of the major manufacturers to avoid a precious metal import tax being levied at the time.hallmarks are very handy for getting an approximate age of the watch,cheers greasemonkey

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I have seen a few IWC 14k gold cases with stainless steel backs, but not in the flesh.  I am cautious of them.

Rolled gold is very good at resisting showing wear, as @longplay points out.

I have recently bought an 18k gold Omega from 1987, that has an 18k white gold case back.  I've never seen that before.

 

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