One of the most polarising materials to make a return to prominence in watchmaking over the last couple of years has been bronze. Why does this ancient material cause so much conjecture when it’s used as a timepiece’s case material? Well, for a start, it can’t come into direct contact with your skin for prolonged periods of time, because if it does, there’s every possibility your left wrist will end up looking like Bruce Banner’s when he gets angry. And, unlike steel, for example, a bronze watch will drastically change in appearance over the course of your ownership, as it is highly reactive to things like air, water, sweat … you get the picture. But bronze does have distinct benefits, too, and chief among them is an extreme resistance to corrosion. As a result, CuSn (bronze’s molecular formula) has been heavily utilised in the cases of dive watches. It is also, subjectively, a very handsome material for watch cases, and these are four of our favourites bronze timepieces from 2019:
IWC BIG PILOT’S WATCH PERPETUAL CALENDAR SPITFIRE
The Big Pilot series is one of the most iconic ranges within the IWC catalogue. For a brand capable of some seriously high-end horology, also having an established behemoth in the collection is a massive advantage. Why? Because it provides some serious space to pack out with complications. This perpetual calendar is 46.2mm and uses every square millimetre to great effect.
Ref No: IW503601 / Case size: 46.2mm / Case material: Bronze / Movement: 52615 / Price: $42,600
PANERAI SUBMERSIBLE BRONZO
Big and beautiful, the Panerai Submersible Bronzo is not going to go unnoticed in any circumstance. The advent of bronze and ceramic as materials in the mainstream of watchmaking is honoured here in a piece that is as chromatically harmonious as it is imposing on the wrist.
Ref No: PAM00968 / Case size: 47mm / Case material: Bronze / Movement: P.9010 / Price: $23,100
MONTBLANC 1858 GEOSPHERE LIMITED EDITION
The Geosphere collection from Montblanc tends to split opinion. While the dials are busy, they are also really interesting to look at and, from a distance, give your wrist a kind of Jules Verne verve, which is never a bad thing. In bronze, and limited to 1858 pieces, that attitude is further enhanced, and the green dial background does a good job of quietening the clamour.
Ref No: 119909 / Case size: 42mm / Case material: Bronze / Movement: MB 29.25 / Price: $9340
BELL & ROSS VBR V2-94 BELLYTANKER BRONZE
There are some watches that need to be seen in person to be properly appreciated. At first glance, the Bellytanker range could be overlooked, but in the metal, or the bronze specifically, the Bellytanker colourways are seen to mesh superbly with the range’s classical proportions. The bronze model is on-trend and the colour choices on point. If you’re looking to get involved with the bronze bonanza, this is another good option.
Ref No: BRV294-BC-BR/SCA / Case size: 41mm / Case material: Bronze / Movement: BR-CAL.301 / Price: $7900