5 of the best best bronze watches of 2023D.C. Hannay
I remember a few years back when everywhere you looked, bronze-cased watches were all the rage. Collectors went nuts for the rustic look, some of them accelerating the aging process through various methods of forcing patina, including, I kid you not, using hard-boiled eggs. Personally, I prefer the aging to occur naturally through everyday exposure to the elements, resulting in a muted appearance, rather than the Krusty Krab treatment of an exaggerated green patina. The hype has since died down, but bronze now occupies a special niche for watch fans that love the antique look of a well-weathered tool. So, in this now-mature market space, here’s a look at five of the best in bronze timepieces.
Baltic Aquascaphe Bronze Brown
First up is the newest release from French microbrand Baltic, the Aquascaphe Bronze Brown, and it’s another stunner. It’s pure midcentury perfection, familiar, without ever seeming blatantly derivative. Clearly, Baltic has the vintage look on lock, and has since the original steel Aquascaphe was released a few years back. It was a hit back then, and the brand has released funky new riffs on that timeless design ever since. This latest iteration brings a new black and gilt sapphire bezel insert, with a more subtle contrasting look than the previous black and blue-dialled version’s all-bronze bezel. The retro notes continue with the gorgeous brown gradient no-date dial that features subtly aged lume. Combined with the easy-wearing 39mm case, reliable Miyota 9039 movement, 200 metres of water resistance, a domed sapphire crystal, and the tropic-look rubber strap, there’s no debating that Baltic has nailed the brief once again. Best of all, it’s a smart value play, too, at a mere €625.00. Time+Tide are an authorised dealer of Baltic Watches for Australia.
Longines Legend Diver Bronze
Longines’ Legend Diver has a design that seems as if it sprang forth fully formed from the creator’s pencil. It’s the modern doppelganger of the steel Longines Ref. 7042 dive watch, released at the dawn of recreational diving in the early ‘60s. From the proportions of its compressor case, to the ultra-legible dial and handset and the innovative inner timing bezel, it proves that a functional tool can also be unapologetically beautiful. The green-to-black gradient dial harmonizes beautifully with the bronze case, retaining the original’s size, a big-for-the-’60s yet tool watch-correct 42mm. The height of 12.7mm is especially impressive for a watch with a domed sapphire crystal and 300 metres of water resistance. Beating away behind the scenes is the Caliber L888, an ETA-based movement with an impressive 72 hour power reserve. A vintage-styled brown leather strap completes the time capsule look.
Tudor Black Bay 58 Bronze
The Black Bay line continues its march with an ever-expanding catalogue, and the BB58 in bronze is a retro-tastic jewel. It retains all the qualities that made the original BB58 such a smash, including the 39mm case and historic Sub look, but adds a few touches that set it apart from the rest of the lineup. Chief among them is a full bronze bracelet, an uncommon feature that only adds to the throwback vibe, especially as it begins to patina. Then there’s the brown gradient dial and aluminium bezel insert that play perfectly with the bronze details throughout. There are some welcome concessions to modernity, however, in the form of the MT5400 COSC-certified movement and fantastic T-fit clasp, making this vintage-look timepiece well-suited for modern life.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire Bronze
Not all bronze watches are divers, and IWC’s Spitfire brings the unique material to a classic flieger-style pilot’s watch. This style is such a versatile one, with its clean case lines and uncluttered dial, that it’s a cinch to pair with a wide variety of looks. The warm bronze of the 39mm case is an ideal match with the verdant green dial, and the bright white Arabic dial markers and broad sword-style hands make everything super legible. The movement is the automatic Calibre 32111, which boasts a whopping five-day power reserve. The warmth of the case and dial combo get the perfect complement in the contrast-stitched brown calf strap, which features the IWC EasX-CHANGE system for no-fuss strap swaps.
Panerai Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso
Now this is a properly brutish bronze diver. Panerai’s boss-level 300 metre Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso refuses to be ignored, but unlike the original 47mm Submersible that requires a linebacker’s wrist to pull off, this version comes in a much more manageable 42mm. Don’t you worry, though, there’s still a whole lotta bronze at play here, from the burly squared cushion case, to the trademark Panerai crown guard, and broad bezel whose raised studded details give it a vintage diving helmet vibe. The bronze-coloured dial hardware really jumps out from the deep blue dial, lending a handsome nautical look. A substantial matching blue suede leather strap gets bold contrast stitching, and of course, that burly signature bronze buckle.