The watch world likes to elevate itself above the fickleness of fashion, seeing watches as a serious mechanical-based industry far removed from whim and mass-market demands. But you only need to look at the clusters that emerge year after year to know that this is more than a touch of false virtue. One brand announces that yellow, rose or white gold is the future, that blue dials or smaller diameters are de rigeur, or that minute repeaters are the complication du jour, and you can bet your bottom dollar that within months a whole bunch of watches following the same theme will emerge. So – although not the first to use the material in a modern case – when Panerai launched the limited edition Bronzo to huge international acclaim in 2012, it was only a matter of time before other brands followed suit.
Despite its use throughout history in cases of marine chronometers, bronze is not the most obvious choice for a wristwatch. A soft metal that changes colour and damages easily, what it does offer is the watch lover’s holy grail: uniqueness. By doing nothing more than wearing it, every bronze watch will develop a patina ranging in appearance from gold to black and even orange, pink, green or blue. And best of all, the base metal is protected by this coating, so if an owner finds the patina distasteful, they can polish it back to its original state – giving future Antiques Roadshow experts palpitations in the process.