Chemistry teachers are a mine of useful information. How to separate salt from sea water. What is pH. Why does Brad Pitt never look any older. And: what happens to metal when exposed to oxygen. The answer being, oxidation. Iron turns to rust, copper is tainted green – a fact of interest to anyone purchasing a watch in bronze, an alloy composed primarily of copper.
In the space of a few years, bronze has become something of a hip metal for watches. Between 3000 and 1000 B.C. (when bronze was discovered), its greatest quality was its toughness. Today we love it for its “just one more dive” weathered appearance. Much of the hardware on a boat, from winch handles to hatches, are in bronze, hence its association with sailing and the sea. From the deck of a yacht to a golden boy’s wrist in one smooth stroke. The rest is just storytelling (with a subtext). Whether “the patina it gains with time” (it turns green), “it becomes part of your story” (it stains your white shirt when you sweat) or “its retro appeal” (classier than steel, trendier than gold), there’s plenty to convince us that without bronze, we are nothing. It’s the Dragonglass (aka obsidian in Game of Thrones) of watchmaking. Bronzed vs. White Walker, let the battle commence!
Panerai Submersible Bronzo
Panerai is the Hop-o’-My-Thumb of this story, leading the way for its watchmaking brothers with a first bronze-cased watch in 2011. Its latest Submersible Bronzo is set to become another huge (47mm diameter) success. Both the case and the signature crown guard are made from a copper-tin alloy that is highly resistant to the corrosive action of salt water. Hardly surprising from the brand that equipped Egyptian Navy commandos with water-resistant bronze cases in the 1940s.
Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver Bronze Green
Sometimes, all it takes is a little history to bring everything into focus. Bell & Ross has engraved the back of its new watch with an old-time dive helmet. The kind that would have been made in bronze, the same as the case and pin buckle of this Diver Bronze Green. Which, to be precise, are in CuSn8 bronze, an alloy of 92% copper and 8% tin. Extra points if you knew that.
TAG Heuer Autavia
Dr. McDreamy, sorry, Patrick Dempsey, is the face of the new Autavia from TAG Heuer. He’s the sexy, off-the-beaten-track guy at the wheel of his convertible or surrounded by untamed nature. For the advert for the 42mm bronze version, we suggest shirtless on the deck of a Riva yacht, somewhere off the Italian coast. In which case we might forgive him for quitting Grey’s Anatomy.
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Adventure
Watch out for this big boy. The bronze case of the Pilot Type 20 Adventure fills a 45mm space on your wrist. Zenith has paired this essential piece of kit with a grained khaki green dial and a camouflage leather strap that Mykel Hawke could take on one of his survival training courses. Today, children, we’re going to learn how to make fire, build a shelter and set a trap. Any questions?
Tudor Black Bay Bronze
Tudor has a knack for being one step ahead of trends. After steel (1990), titanium (2000) and pink gold (2010), it introduced a bronze version of the Black Bay back in 2016. This year’s rendition plays on contrasts, with its gradient slate grey dial. The result is a watch that could have been three times round the world on Indiana Jones’ wrist.
Oris Big Crown Pointer Date 80th Anniversary Edition
How do you celebrate your 80th birthday, apart from “my life in 100 PowerPoint slides”? French record-label mogul Eddie Barclay threw a huge party where all the guests wore white. Oris prefers bronze for its Big Crown Pointer Date, a nod to its industrial heritage. A deep green dial lends a Riviera touch.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic Limited Edition
This limited edition of 1,858 pieces channels the back-to-nature trend. Sporting a 40mm case in polished and satin-finish bronze, a khaki dial and coordinating strap, it ticks all the boxes for surviving in a hostile environment. NB: you may notice a smell of oxidized metal if the situation hots up. Finding a grizzly in your tent, for example.
Speake-Marin London Chronograph
The Piccadilly case makes its first outing in bronze, a good fit for the retro-inspired London Chronograph. Oxidation lends a natural patina to the case which houses the Valjoux 72, arguably one of the best manual-winding chronograph calibres ever. London calling!
Urwerk UR-105 CT Maverick
Unflinching, it derives its unique beauty from the outside aggressions of air, humidity and whatever life throws at it. It wears its battle scars with pride. The Maverick is a living object. Its history is written across its face. If Rocky Balboa were a watch, this is it.
MeisterSinger Metris Bronze Line
Like a sundial, this watch uses a single, prominent hand to mark our position in time. Stylewise, it matches a blue dial with a 38mm bronze case. Guaranteed to look the part on the beach this summer. Bronze is an excellent conductor of heat, so don’t be surprised if you start feeling hot around the wrist. A parasol and a glass of Chianti on ice should do the trick.