In a world where collectors strive to keep their watches looking as brand new as possible, bronze watches are specifically created to go against that very diligence. The alloy — comprised of at least 60 percent copper — was once used extensively in diving equipment and ship fittings. Now, it’s increasingly reimagined as timepiece material for its unique ability to age with such a distinctive grace over time.
Like a fingerprint, all bronze watches, even those of the same model, will develop individualised patinas — a thin layer that forms on the surface through age and exposure to the elements — over time, lending a warm, vintage-like appearance that can’t be achieved with other metals.
Here, we dive deep into the world of this time-honoured metal to bring you the most outstanding bronze watches in the market today.
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As far as colour combinations go, few bronze watches nail the look as well as Bell & Ross’ latest BR03-92 Diver Bronze. The timepiece — designed in collaboration with Singapore-based retailer Cortina Watch — swaps out the black dial of the standard model with an olive drab colour way instead, a not-so-subtle nod, perhaps, to the military and diving heritage of the unique watch brand.
Nicknamed “Demiurgus”, Creator of the Universe, the 100-piece limited edition watch sees a 42mm case and bezel made of a special copper alloy that was once used in the past as deep-sea helmets or naval construction. It’s also every bit the quintessential diving watch that Bell & Ross has come to be known for, boasting a water resistance of 300m with its automatic calibre BR-CAL.302. Expect a beautiful patina to form over time depending on its environment — ranging from reddish brown to greyish green — that gives every piece a distinctive touch.
Marginally larger than the earlier models at 43mm (versus 41mm), the Tudor Black Bay Bronze is a presence for the wrist despite being paired with a dark chocolatey brown dial. The contemporary iteration clearly speaks to a less conservative audience, and its in-house Tudor movements cements its status as a collectible.
Here, the classically inspired case design is rendered in a particular type of aluminium-bronze alloy with a special finishing on the case, specifically created to ensure that there’s an even brown patina sans the spotting that typically occurs with bronzed cases. Arabic hour markers replace the conventional baton-and-circle hour markers on the regular Black Bay dials, and the retro-sporty COSC-certified timepiece is capable of water resistance to 200m.
Made of a an alloy of copper and pure tin that’s resistant to seawater and atmospheric corrosion, this Panerai is a powerful salute to its seafaring legacy, especially since the model was originally commissioned more than half a century ago for the Egyptian Navy commandos.
Within the 47mm brushed bronze case lies the automatic P.9000 calibre, designed and produced in-house by Office Panerai with a power reserve of three days. Like a true antiquity of the sea, the Submersible 1950 model is water resistant to 300m, and is a limited edition of 1,000 units worldwide.
The third watch in IWC history to be bestowed a bronze case, the Aquatimer Automatic Edition “Collectors Forum Watch” charts the passage of time not only via the hands on its contrasting black dial, but also by its characteristic patina. Truly made for the sea, the limited edition of 250 pieces is highly legible with luminous hands and markings within its substantial 44mm frame.
Inside, the IWC Manufacture 82110 chalks up a power reserve of 60 hours with its Pellaton winding system, a work of mechanical art which the brand is keen to show via a glass case-back — a feature exceptionally rare in a diver’s watch.
While the other watches have seen bold bronzed cases, Breitling explores an alternative route with a bronze dial instead. Encompassed by a rich 18-karat red gold case, the robust timepiece pays tribute to styles from the early 20th century, with distinctive design elements and contrasting sub-dials for maximum legibility without sacrificing on the aesthetic front.
Inside, the self-winding Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01 is COSC-certified, with an impressive power reserve of more then 70 hours.