When a couple of years ago the first bronze cased watches entered the mainstream watch scene, it seemed to be a trend. However, over the years this type of watches have proved their staying power, as a charismatic alternative to steel. Initially, bronze cases where mainly applied to dive watches as their non-corrosive qualities offer an added advantage there. However, this edition of the SIHH we saw that the trend of using this material into other categories of watches also continues.
Montblanc was one of the first to embrace bronze for a watch that is not explicitly made for diving. In their 1858 collection, they showed us that this material also had a place in more adventure style watches. Initially, they combined this in the 1858 Automatic Geosphere with black dial and bezel. While this is an attractive combination, we actually prefer the version which they introduced at this year’s SIHH, with a green dial and bezel. This dial has a slight fume-effect, which gives it even more depth.
One of the reasons why bronze cased watches are so populair is that over time they will develop a unique patina. How this develops, depends on what you expose the watch to. Different climates, swimming in salt or sweet water; these all influence the patina developing process. This is part of the appeal but also has a downside. Bronze is an alloy, which in watchmaking mainly consists out of copper, combined with aluminium and other metals. The copper will react with the moisture from your skin, turning both the case and your skin green. This is why the caseback of a bronze watch, is often craft from titanium or steel to avoid this.
Interesting is that also IWC introduced many new watches in bronze, yet not in their Aquatimer-collection, but in their Pilot’s family of watches! The entire range, from time-only up till the perpetual calendar, is now available with this case material, which the brand also combined with a green dial. This gives the watches a rather distinct look, quite different from the black dials and steel cases that are commonly found in pilots watches.
Of course, will bronze never replace steel as the most popular material to craft watches from, but it is here to stay. Just as ceramic, it offers an exciting alternative for people to choose from. We cannot wait to see these new Montblanc and IWC watches developing their patina on the wrists of their owners, rendering them all unique in the process.