Proper Patina: Why Buy A Bronze Watch & Which Are The Best Ones?
Proper Patina: Why Buy A Bronze Watch & Which Are The Best Ones?Rafael Dominguez2022-01-09T15:40:14-05:00
The golden hues of bronze alloys have swiftly become one of the most prized looks for watch collectors everywhere. Luxury watch brands have clearly caught on to this trend, and continued pushing the use of the metal into newer and better models.
But not all of these efforts have produced worthwhile models. With this in mind, we’ve gone and dug out the best bronze watches, as well as discussed the benefits that bronze watch owners get to enjoy:
It’s true that bronze can command a premium, but it doesn’t always have to break the bank. For this reason, and in addition to our top picks, we’ve also included a couple of examples that offer great value.
Though bronze metal is inherently tied to maritime settings, it’s application has managed to break past the dive watch archetype in the watch world. We’ve included one example where it’s applied (rather successfully) in a more formal watch.
The links above will help you jump directly to a specific model, though we’ve structured the page so as to progress from the most recognized bronze watches to more undiscovered specimens. For this reason, you may find it valuable to scroll through in order.
In the past couple of years, there’s been an absolute explosion of bronze case watches, bronze bezels, even bronze bracelet links like never before. The halls of Baselworld and SIHH have become engulfed with what has become one of the hottest new metals in the industry.
So, what makes bronze watches so popular, and when did this trend start?
Panerai were not the first to produce a bronze dive watch, but they may have planted the seed of prosperity with their PAM 382 “Bronzo”. Released in 2011, the PAM 382’s introduction came at a time when Panerai watches were already on the come up.
The novel metal diver, which was limited to 1000 units, caused an even greater frenzy for the Italian watchmaker’s timepieces. The watch also paired the bronze case with a green / olive dial and distressed (“cracked”) leather strap, all presented in the familiar Luminor Submersible style.
The next and possibly most groundbreaking bronze men’s watch came in 2016 in the form of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze. The brand’s Black Bay line had seen significant success by this time, but the first bronze version changed the game.
Tudor was able to offer the coveted metal in the popular dive watch style for less than half of the Panerai’s retail price, and without a cap on production. It’s safe to say that the Black Bay Bronze flew off the shelves.
From that point onwards, every new year has seen more brands producing their own bronze masterpieces, many of which have seen similar success. Luckily, the theme hardly seems overplayed.
In fact, a bronze offering has almost become the norm nowadays – the warm metal has gained a spot among its yellow, rose, and silver metal siblings.
Benefits Of Bronze Watches
The biggest virtue of bronze in a timepiece may just be its color. More specifically, the fact that its color is different from other metals, and therefore perceived as new and desirable for its uniqueness.
As we mentioned earlier, the first Panerai Bronzos were very exclusive timepieces. When the bronze watch look finally spread to other brands and became more accessible, all those who could not get their hands on a Bronzo flocked to newer (and cheaper) options.
As of mid-2019, this craze does not appear to be losing steam.
There’s also the fact that brands are able to change the composition of the bronze alloy itself to change the hue of the metal. Different varieties of bronze are therefore produced and implemented in different models and styles, multiplying the number of options.
Lastly, there’s the particular characteristic of all bronzes – they patina when exposed to the elements.
Bronze is widely used in nautical applications for it’s durable nature. Starting at a red-brown color, the metal will react with other elements like oxygen in the air or salt in water, producing a layer of corrosion on its surface. This layer then acts as a protective coating, preventing further corrosive deterioration.
In watches, this corrosion or patina has become extremely desirable. That is because different environments will cause different amounts of patina, making every bronze watch unique to its owner’s wrist.
Watches are often emotional acquisitions, so the experience of seeing your watch age as you do helps owners connect with their timepieces on a new level. The wearer is able to make the watch “their own” in a way that has never been possible before.
Alternatively, those who prefer the shiny bronze of the first days may simply chemically clean the bronze to restore its original luster. Likewise, the less patient can use various other methods to speed up the corrosion.
All in all, bronze timepieces offer a different look, often a unique one, that has won the wrists of watch collectors everywhere. Next, we look at the best examples using this dynamic metal.
The first bronze watch to spark the bronze mania sits at the top of our list, and it is the Panerai PAM 382 AKA the Bronzo. Officine Panerai took the already attractive platform that was their Luminor Submersible, an inherently nautical style, and dove even deeper by producing it in bronze.
The watch boasts a massive 47mm case, and that’s without the crown guard. There’s also the beautiful dark green dial, luminous hour indices and hands, as well as a practical date aperture at 3 o’clock.
Since its release, the PAM 382 has served as a bar for all other bronze watches to measure up against. You may find yourself hearing raving reviews of the latest bronze release, but many will still utter the words “it’s no Bronzo” as the icon’s status is truly hard to achieve.
Not often mentioned is the fact that the watch boasts a titanium case back. For those unfamiliar with bronze, the purpose of this is to prevent staining of the skin by constant contact with the bronze metal.
Lastly, visible through the case back is a Panerai P.9000 in-house calibre touting an impressive 3 day power reserve. A utilitarian diver and emblematic bronze timepiece, the original PAM 382 Bronzo has already earned its spot in the tomes of horological history.
Since its original release in 2016, Tudor has expanded the revolutionary Black Bay Bronze line with additional bezel, dial, and strap colors. While the newer versions are alluring timepieces indeed, there’s something special about the one that came first.
This is why we’ve chosen it as our second favorite bronze watch. We could go into detail here on its best attributes, but we’ll let our unboxing and video review do the talking:
Released around the same time as the Tudor Bronze, the Oris Carl Brashear exhibited a different yet equally impressive display of bronze in a watch. As opposed to Tudor, the brand based out of Hölstein, Switzerland chose to pair their watch with a compelling blue dial.
Also on the face of the watch are applied luminous (Super-LumiNova “old radium”) hour indices and printed minute markings in a brown, vintage-inspired color. Aside from the 100m water resistance and diver’s bezel, functionality also includes a date which can be found at the 6 o’clock position.
Overall, Oris presents an attractive and uncomplicated bronze diver with an honorable inspiration – the true life story of Carl Brashear, the first African American Master Diver in the U.S Navy.
An already captivating timepiece is made even more special by its historic influence and limited production. There’s no doubt that this bronze Oris Diver’s watch has reached, and is bound to preserve, the prestige of an eternal classic.
Where our previous picks have resided within the bronze dive watch spectrum, our #4 selection dares to wander far from the category. So, how did this strategy fare?
Well, you certainly wouldn’t be reading this if we didn’t find the MeisterSinger Perigraph Bronze to be an outstanding example of bronze in a more formal form. Paired with the brand’s nontraditional time display, the watch becomes an even more unique timepiece.
This Perigraph boasts a similar blue-on-bronze theme as the previous Oris, though executed in a very different way. The dial possesses a reflective sunray texture, and is further decorated by the printed white indices.
The inner dial is marked by an open-ring date display, yet another unorthodox design choice from the German watchmaker. Nevertheless, all the uncommon elements come together to produce particularly attractive timepiece that elevates the warm glow of bronze to a whole new dimension.
While the Pita Barcelona Steam “SA Tuna Edition” is yet another bronze watch diver, there is a very particular aspect of this timepiece that makes it incredibly unique. And we’re not just talking about its looks.
Though they do make for a great starting point. The diver is truly different, not only from the rest on our list, but from the rest of the world. There’s the expected rotating diver’s bezel, but that’s as far as it goes with regards to familiarity.
The dial is black with minimal markings. The same could be said about the center hands, except there’s a splash of three colors in the center seconds indicator. Other than these, the watch’s look is significantly sterile.
The ultimate secret of the Steam lies in its movement. Expressly, the fact that it’s completely isolated within the bronze case. The watch is adjusted via a magnetic mechanism on the case back and not through a crown, as is the standard.
This means no case apertures are necessary, neither are helium escape valves nor other intricate case designs. This way, Pita Barcelona achieves a unique horological mechanism, within an uncommon case, for the ultimate one-of-a-kind bronze watch.
Bronze Watches Under $1,000
Christopher Ward C60 Trident Bronze Pro 600 – Price: $910
The renowned and highly successful Trident line from Christopher Ward pushes its boundaries once more, this time into the world of bronze. By the looks of the watch below, the new iteration represents another successful venture for the English watch manufacturers.
Spinnaker is an up-and-coming microbrand that has made waves on social media with their yachting-inspired timepieces. The nautical theme undoubtedly leads to a bronze offering, a rather robust an attractive one at that, which can be admired below.
It can also be had for under $1,000 and demonstrates that looks nor quality need to be sacrificed in the making of an accessible bronze watch.