Bronze reborn: the world's oldest alloy in five modern-day watches

By Jason Swire, October 17 2018
Bronze reborn: the world's oldest alloy in five modern-day watches

Nothing quite plays up the vintage appeal of a watch like a bronze case. The alloy develops a patina over time that darkens and mottles the surface, granting each case a unique and antiquated look.

Bronze is extensively used in the maritime industry for ship fittings and anchors due to its salt water corrosion resistance, which also makes this alloy especially appropriate for diver’s watches. Bronze watches boast a warm golden appearance at a fraction of the price of solid gold, whilst being harder – and thus more scratch resistant – as well as weighing less on the wrist. Here are five of our favourite modern bronze watches worth taking on your next trip.

Christopher Ward C60 Trident Bronze Pro 600

This attractive diver boasts a beautiful bronze case matched with a blue dial and strap, which lends it a more youthful and modern look. The C600 Trident Bronze Pro 600 is a serious dive watch featuring 600 meters of water resistance, a uni-directional timing bezel and strong faux-vintage lume for underwater visibility.

The matte “marine blue” dial and trident counterweight on the second hand reinforce this theme well, and with two sizes available at 38mm and 43mm this is a watch that will suit most wrist sizes. The price is attractive too, at $1,185 for either version with leather, rubber or fabric strap options.

Oris Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date

With a unisex-appropriate size of 36mm and featuring a lovely pale green dial, this Oris watch will flatter men’s or women’s wrists with equal grace.

The Arabic numerals and large cathedral-style hands provide strong legibility in all conditions, while the pointer date complication offers a bit of vintage flair. The large crown will also make winding or setting this Oris a breeze.

Although technically in a pilot’s style, the case is still water resistant to a respectable 50 meters. Priced at approximately $2,550 this is a svelte, stylish timepiece with some personality that won’t break the bank.

Tudor Black Bay Bronze

Divers don’t come much more vintage than the Tudor Black Bay Bronze. This Black Bay features the brand’s signature “Snowflake” hands, Arabic numerals at 3, 6 and 9, 200 meters of water resistance and a matte brown uni-directional timing bezel

With a large 43mm case, this Black Bay manages to nail the old-world look while being clean and legible at the same time..

Within the Black Bay Bronze beats a chronometer-certified manufacture movement boasting 70 hours of power reserve and a silicon hairspring for magnetic resistance, making this is a timepiece you can rely on to be accurate and durable regardless of lifestyle.

For around $5,300, the Black Bay Bronze is available with a diving-ready fabric strap as pictured, or an aged leather strap for an even more classic look.

Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph

If you thought all chronographs had to be racing or automotive-inspired, the Montblanc 1858 will change your mind. With a smoked, champagne-coloured dial featuring a sunburst finish, large cathedral-style hands and Arabic numerals, this is a thoroughly vintage timepiece that looks like an old navigator’s instrument from the age of exploration.

The 42mm case boasts 100 meters of water resistance, making this watch suitable for swimming or water sports – although make sure to swap out the included leather strap for something more aquatically-appropriate first. The engraved case-back reinforces this explorer’s theme, featuring the emblems of a compass, two crossed pick-axes and the Montblanc mountain.

At approximately $7,650 this isn’t an inexpensive watch by any stretch, but the strong styling and chronograph functionality make it a compelling option nonetheless.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Heritage Bronze

This IWC is the largest watch of the round-up, with an imposing 46.2mm case size and resolutely aviation appearance. A clean matte black dial and large heat-blued, sword-shaped hands make this watch eminently legible at a glance, as well as offering a date aperture discreetly located at 6 o’clock.

Inside ticks an IWC manufacture automatic movement with an impressive 7 days’ worth of power reserve, which is indicated dial-side by the counter at 3 o’clock. Water resistance is rated at 60 meters, and the watch is reinforced against magnetic fields via a soft-iron inner case.

Although this level of over-engineering comes at a cost, as the sticker price for this IWC clocks in at around $22,000. That places it in solid gold watch pricing territory, although the advanced movement, beautifully executed design and IWC’s long association with aviation may be worth it for the right enthusiast.

Jason Swire

Jason Swire is a Sydney-based writer, watch collector and author of 'Timely Advice', a beginner's guide to fine timepieces. His non-watch passions include hi-fi and whiskey, in that order.

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