Bronze watches, some love them some hate them.
But a fact is, based on what I see around me, that the bronze watch definitely made it’s come back. The amount of men that do favour a bronze watch, is growing again.
Bronze watches were often seen as unhealthy, mainly because bronze can cause skin irritations, but when the back of the case is made out of steel or titanium, there is no problem at all, wearing a bronze watch.
Incase you wonder where the bronze trend came from, it is good to know that it was Gerald Genta that brought the first bronze watch, as a consumer timepiece, on the market.
In 1995, when the market for watches was still pretty conservative, the Gefica Chronographe, by Gerald Genta, was presented and it remained in their collection for several years. Certainly for that time, it was a bizarre watch, set with small bullets, on two rows, on the side of the case and on the crown.
In 2007 when Mr. Gerald Genta, who passed away last year, had just sold his name and company to Bvlgari, the brand surpassed itself by releasing a new Gefica watch. Again in a case made out of bronze, with a titanium back, but now enlarged to 47mm, bolder, rounder and with looks like if it just came out of space. This watch was made in a high quality bronze, that was vulnerable for getting a nice patina. But a few years later the Gefica was re-released, now under the Bvlgari brand name and produced in a bronze that was treated, in order to prevent it from tarnishing. Gone was the effect, since these new Gefica’s will keep on shining.
Panerai started to release their first consumer watches in steel and in titanium in 1997 and the Italian brand surprised the diehard Panerai fans with their first bronze watch in 2011.The case material was a copper and tin alloy, having a high resistance to the corrosive effects of seawater and weather conditions. As a reaction to these external factors, a surface patina will form on the bronze case.
This patina is exactly what makes the charm of a bronze watch. One never knows how it will develop and when it starts to develop. It all depends on the climate, air, water, daily wear, salt etc. Under certain circumstances it may hardly happen, while under other circumstances it may happen very quickly, like the ‘Benarus Moray’ shown in the following pictures.
The watch was worn for some time, near the Dead Sea. While the watch was never used in the water, the amount of salt in the air, had begun to form patina on the case, in no time. This is one of the features of the bronze case that makes it truly unique. No watch will ever develop the same patina and the patina will change again, when the watch is brought to another climate.
Bronze is certainly a great material for the more butch sport- or dive watches. Watches that may or should look rough. Combined with a good calf strap, it is the ideal time piece for adventures trips and holidays.
There is a lot of choice when checking out the smaller brands, that produce this type of time pieces. Many of them manufacture affordable watches, mostly using strong ETA movements; ideal to have as a holiday watch, when the Calatrava or Tank Cintrée, stays at home or in the vault.
To illustrate the article, I just picked a few of the smaller and popular companies, like ‘Benarus’, ‘Kazimon’, new comer ‘Montre Militare’ and ‘Kaventsmann’, that manufacture these watches in small production runs. Be aware that bronze models are not always in their collection. Benarus for instance works with small releases and as soon as they’re sold out, a new project is starting up, sometimes in bronze, sometimes in steel.
Enjoy your Summer!