If there is one element of watch ownership that speaks to the human psyche more than almost any other, it's the notion that what you wear is unique to you. And it's true, there simply isn't another watch out there with your dings in the case or your aged strap. No material creates such allure through the aging process as bronze. And watch designers have known this for some time. With wear, your bronze watch case will evolve far quicker and more obviously than any steel case (swimming in salt water really speeds things up!).
Bronze is a copper alloy generally containing around 12% tin. Its discovery dates back several millennium BC. Before giving way to cheaper iron and stronger steel, the Bronze Age lasted almost three millennia. Bronze possesses a number of advantageous properties. And the versatility of its application has continued its use right up to modern day.
One of those properties is its resistance to salt water corrosion. Typically, when exposed, bronze only oxidizes at the surface, forming a protective layer over the underlying metal. In the past, this made bronze the material of choice for boat and ship fittings. (Prior to the wide employment of stainless steel.) It also featured in early diving equipment. More recently, it has spurred a growing trend of tool watches. Not all bronze watches are created equal though. That’s why we’ve put together this hand-picked selection of some of our favorite references from 2022 - enjoy!
Rado Captain Cook Bronze
All in, 42mm of burgundy on the burgundy bezel and dial greatness - inspired by an original look from 1962. This model features a bronze case as well as a NATO. A perfect combination of traditional and modern materials. Unmistakable vintage lines, as well as the fact its build quality is next level - really make the Bronze a winner.
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Bronze
Zenith's 'Pilot Type 20 Extra Special' reference is based on vintage aviator's watches, updated with modern technology and hardy construction. The Swiss-made Elite 679 automatic movement, with a 50-hour power reserve, is housed in a bronze case designed to gain a patina quickly, while the sleek black dial has gold-plated Super-LumiNova® hands and easy-to-read Arabic numerals.
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze
Since its release in 2018, Hamilton’s 38mm steel field watch has been wildly successful, and it's easy to see why. Super rugged, perfectly proportioned, and full to the brim with heritage. When the brand launched its bronze case version of the almost exact replica of the Vietnam war era US government-issued field watch, it made a great choice for an everyday beater.
Oris Big Crown ProPilot Big Date Bronze
Oris has been experimenting with bronze in its diver’s watches for years. For the first time now in 2022, it's the Pilots turn and the hugely popular Big Crown ProPilot Big Date. The warm tones of the new model come from its bronze case, fluted bezel, and signature oversized crown, which are complemented by a deep black dial with printed golden indices. This is a true pilot’s watch, so the hands are filled with white Super LumiNova and the markers solid Super LumiNova, creating a high contrast dial and instantly readout (important at 36,000 feet and in the office).
Longines Legend Diver Bronze
Pulling in everything that has made Longines the great Swiss watchmaker it is over the last 180 years. The original Legend Diver, first released in 2007, is a powerful – and popular – example of a vintage reissue done right. The Legend Diver in Bronze builds on the foundation of the original with new case material and the highly anticipated removal of the date display (a first for the line since the date function was added in 2012) and a choice that helps bring this bronze model closer to the original ref. 7042.
Tudor Black Bay Bronze Bucherer Blue
Bucherer is one of Europe's biggest watch retailers. For its 130th anniversary in 2018, it unveiled over a dozen “Bucherer Blue” special editions created just for the occasion. One of the most affordable, and perhaps the most compelling, is the Tudor Black Bay Bronze Blue. Tudor’s first retailer-exclusive edition, and for just under US$4000, you get an in-house movement and of course the eye-catching “Bucherer Blue”.
Oris Divers Sixty-Five Bico
The Sixty Five Series from Oris’ might hold the top spot for value for money alongside the Tudor 58. It is certainly as well-loved. Available in a range of color options and inspired by an Oris divers watch first released in 1965, this all-new Divers Sixty Five Bico is trademarked by its bicolor bracelet and bezel. Unlike some bronze hues, this one from Oris is golden vs rose. The case is 40mm in diameter and has a slim profile with a curved sapphire glass. It has 100m water resistance, and a really great signed screw-down crown. It runs a Swiss-made Oris 733 movement, based on the well-tested Sellita SW 200-1, with a decent 38 hours power reserve.
IWC Schaffhausen Aquatimer Chronograph Special Edition “Darwin”
Dedicated to Mr. Charles Darwin, 'the father of evolution', this 'Aquatimer' style pays homage to his journey to the Galapagos Islands. The bronze case references the famous HMS Beagle's gleaming fittings and is designed to develop a characterful patina over time. It’s the sort of watch that inspires adventure every time you put it on.
Glycine Combat Sub Bronze
From its clean dial and diver’s bezel to its 200-meter water resistance rating it has been done in a wide spectrum of colors and finishes, but never before in bronze, until now. All the rugged, tool watch vibes of the original Combat Sub, just in bronze. Fitted with a sapphire crystal, it’s scratch-resistant and easy to read. The 25-jewel movement beneath offers a 38-hour tank on a full charge. Does it get better than a military spec watch in a heavily patinated case?
Tag Heuer Autavia
A seriously rugged men’s automatic watch with bronze case and killer khaki smoked dial. Inspired by classic explorer’s watches, the design is upgraded by 21st-century materials, including titanium for the case back and black ceramic for the bidirectional turning bezel. This might just be Tag, it's modern best.
Zelos Hammerhead 2
The Hammerhead was first launched by Zelos in 2016. It was a no-nonsense, tool watch, born of the glory days of dive watches of the 1970s. An update in the form of the Hammerhead 2 came this year boasting a new case now which features a Helium escape valve, dual C3 and BGW9 lume on the hands, and overall improved build quality. The bold CUSN8 Bronze is water-resistant to 1000m and the high double domed crystal tops off the vintage vibes.
Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Torpilleur
The Marine Torpilleur is inspired by Ulysse Nardin’s strong bond with the seas and its history in making marine chronometers. The dial that is finished in a blackish dark blue color features a small second’s counter at 6 o’clock with the watch’s individual serial number and C.W. (Initials of Chronometer Watch) text representing the model’s C.O.S.C certified movement. Leaf-shaped hands finished in matching matt gold tone accompany the dial that refers to the Military Watch style with large Arabic number indices. Limited to 300 watches, it's not one you will see in the wild very often.
Bell & Ross BR 03-92
You either love Bell & Ross or hate them. And that’s what great design does - it can’t be for everyone. In this instance, we see its iconic square BR03 model designed for professionals in extreme environments, this time in bronze and faithful to the brand's watchwords of legibility, functionality, reliability, and precision. This BR 03-92 is bold, no doubt, and certainly one you will spot across the room.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic Limited Edition
The Montblanc '1858' family is inspired by the classic Minerva watches from the 1920s and '30s. These were watches developed for one purpose: mountain exploration. We love the details on this reference - for example, turn the watch over and you will see the signature mountain, compass, and crossed ice pick-axes. Powered by the calibre MB 24.15 automatic movement, it has a polished and satin-finished bronze case with slim beveled horns - can't go wrong.
Christopher Ward C60 Trident Bronze
Born in the UK, and made in Switzerland, this C60 from Christopher Ward is as hardy as it is good-looking. Inspired by the use of bronze in maritime history, the C60 Trident Pro 600 has a 40mm CuSn6 marine grade bronze case and applied baton markers. Flat sapphire crystal protects the textured blue dial (that bronze case and blue dial is something special over time) and you gotta love the Trident on the center seconds, now instantly recognizable as Christopher Ward.
IWC Schaffhausen Spitfire Bronze
This modern incarnation is inspired by the 'Mark 11' that IWC produced for the British Royal Air Force during the wars. It's powered by a new 32110 calibre movement that’s been developed and manufactured in-house and features robust mechanics protected from magnetism by a soft-iron inner case. At 39mm - it’s spot on for many.
Baltic Aquascaphe Bronze
Baltic has taken the watch world by storm in the last 24 months. The French-based micro brand has really captured the hearts of the collector community by honoring the past, in a classic, stylish way, and moving fast to produce what the audience asks of them. One of the brand's key designs? The beautiful compressor Aquascaphe. 39mm in size, and now with a case in Bronze (made from an aluminum bronze called CuAL8, which is 92% copper and 8% aluminum). It is water-resistant to 200m, and quite simply, everything on the case looks and dial just works. Between the new crown guards in bronze and the dark blue tropic strap, this might just be our pick for 2022 thus far.
Oris Carl Brashear Calibre 401
Oris continues its collaboration with the Carl Brashear Foundation, this time in its third-generation watch inspired by the US Navy master diver's legacy. Limited to just 2,000, it's been manufactured in Switzerland with a bronze case and the new in-house calibre 401 (a highly anti-magnetic automatic movement) that has a five-day power reserve. We love the history but also the small design touches, like the helmet on the case back.
Tudor Black Bay 58 Bronze
Tudor released the Black Bay Fifty-Eight in 2018 (to much acclaim - especially those who love a sub 40mm case). It featured a new, thinner movement packed into a 39mm case. Ironically, the new watch was closer to the original Rolex Submariner than Rolex's own current-generation watch. This variant is rendered in bronze, both the case and bracelet will gently age and turn darker in color with time - what’s not to love?
IWC Schaffhausen Pilot Chronograph Spitfire Bronze
For the first time ever IWC has upgraded its iconic ‘Pilot's’ chronograph with a movement from the in-house-manufactured 69000-calibre family, but housed in a reduced 41mm case. Inspired by the brand's timepieces worn by Spitfire pilots of the ‘40s, it’s encased by rough-hewn bronze, topped with an olive dial, and has a brown leather strap. This is rugged, urban chic at its finest.
Submersible Bronzo, which dropped in 2010, created a frenzy among collectors. Its matte green dial and bronze case just hit a cord in an all-new way. In response to the success of the very first Bronzo model, Panerai launched this, the Submersible Bronzo 47mm PAM00968. Offering all the designs we loved in the original Bronzo, except this time with a blue dial and brown hues with a modern ceramic insert bezel. In the water and out - it’s a looker!
Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Bronze
Oris has just extended its Big Crown Pointer Date collection with the addition of a full bronze bracelet. Yup, a full bronze 7-link bracelet that pairs perfectly with the classic Pointer Date design. The new Big Crown Pointer Date Bronze rocks a 40mm case, housing the Oris 754. The gentle case profile works as well as we’ve seen with prior models of the BCPD, and the new bracelet has plenty of articulation points thanks to the 5 inner links, creating a natural flow around the wrist. This is a full bracelet watch you can really beat up.