Using bronze for making watches is a trend that has increased in popularity in recent times. But the fact of the matter is that bronze has been around for thousands of years. It is only until now that some watch brands have decided to explore it on a larger scale.
Traditionally, most watches that are manufactured are made in stainless steel. Steel is affordable, robust, easy to polish, has great anti-corrosion properties, and more. In other words, stainless steel is a very appropriate material use for watches, hence why it is the most widely used material.
Gold is another common material used for watches which also has its own set of benefits. It’s exclusive, luxurious, and vibrant. But at the same time, it is expensive, scratches easily, and is not practical all the time.
If you’re curious about why bronze has become such a trend in the watch world, and what makes it unique, keep reading.
Bronze Watches - A Complete Guide
Bronze is an alloy that consists mainly of copper and tin, with a 12-12.5% blend of tin. Other metals may also be added such as nickel, zinc, and manganese, depending on what properties the brand is looking for.
If you have followed the watch world, you know that more and more brands have introduced bronze watches to their collections. One of the reasons is that it is a unique material that stands out from the regular steel or gold which are most commonly used. It is something different and new that the market seems to have responded well to.
Many of the bronze watches on the market today are made as dive watches, but not all. There’s a reason behind why many bronze watches are made as dive watches. Bronze as a material was used for boats and ships prior to stainless steel due to its tough properties and saltwater corrosion. Furthermore, bronze was also used for diving helmets. All of this due to the material’s resistant properties in nautical usage areas. This is something that explains why most of the bronze watches that have been released in recent years are just dive watches. It creates a strong connection to the past and integrates it with the future. After all, the first sign of bronze usage is around 3500 BC!
Are bronze watches good?
Naturally, we ask ourselves the question ”are bronze watches good?” when this material stands in contrast to the most classic materials used for watches today; steel and gold.
Well, as mentioned, bronze does have anti-corrosion properties in contact with salt water, which is a great thing for dive watches. There are plenty of examples of vintage watches made in steel that have corrosion in the case, including on Rolex watches where corrosion in the mid-case is not uncommon. Obviously, the most important thing for a watch case is to keep the movement protected and have long-lasting durability. Over time, bronze gets a stable oxidized layer which works as a protection for the case. In other words, the oxidation does not harm the case, rather protects it. When the oxidation layer is thick enough, it is no longer in contact with the oxygen and hence the oxidation ends.
And this is what can be seen as the patina. This puts great importance on the case. Furthermore, since you wear your watch on the wrist day in and day out, it needs to be comfortable. Steel and gold, to mention the most common materials, are non-reactive, and do not react to the skin or sweat from the wrist. But the same cannot be said with bronze.
Bronze contains copper, which reacts with the skin and sweat. As a result, a common ”issue” with bronze cases is that they can leave the wrist green. Many manufacturers have partially solved this by using a non-bronze case back, which is the part of the watch that has the closest contact with the wrist.
With this in mind, the primary reason why you may opt for bronze instead of other materials is its looks. Bronze as a material is not precious, in fact, actually rather affordable as a material. And whilst it is tough, hard, and durable, there are other materials that are harder. Nor is bronze hypoallergenic. Therefore, the reason why you may opt for a bronze watch is that you enjoy the long history and concept behind why manufacturers use it, and you enjoy the idea of a case that ages and develops a patina quickly.
How do bronze watches age? - Bronze watches and patina
One of the main reasons why people have a love for bronze watches is due to the way they age and develop a patina. Because they contain copper, the bronze cases will change appearance and surface over time. Bronze watches will develop a unique patina and go from a bright yellow-gold tone to a dark grey/green color. Not only does this give bronze watches a very unique, sporty, and vintage-inspired look, but it also means that each bronze watch ages differently depending on how the wearer wears it and which environments they subject it to.
After aging, bronze cases get a sporty and tool-like appearance, and according to many, this adds to the charm of sports watches. A sports watch, according to many, shouldn’t shine bright in gold, but rather reflect the purpose for which it is built. And therefore, bronze can be seen as the perfect material for achieving just that.
When it comes to patina on bronze watches, they develop it quite quickly. And this is something that many people who opt for a bronze watch enjoy. Rather than having to wait decades for a watch to develop patina and its own personality, a bronze case will change its surface after just a few weeks (or even days depending on how you wear it).
You also have the ability to affect the way the bronze watch case ages depending on your own preference. Some people put them in vinegar or saltwater the minute they buy it because they are after that deep brown/green/grey finish for the ultimate vintage look. Others enjoy the bronze case but prefer a less aggressive patina.
How do you care for a bronze watch?
It is possible to bring your bronze watch back to its original yellow-gold hue and remove the patina that has developed on the case.
The best way to remove the oxidation from your bronze watch is to use acid. The good news is that you do not need the most aggressive acid which may damage your watch. In fact, acids such as that in ketchup, soda, and lemon, work very well without being too aggressive on the watch.
The process of doing this is very easy. Simply put the watch in soda, and add a few drops of lemon juice, if you want to speed up the process. Rubbing lemon against the case also works.
Once you have left the watch for 10-30 minutes, rinse the watch, brush it if necessary, and wipe it off with a cloth or towel.
Doing this should bring the bronze watch back to its original luster and shine without patina. With this said, you can change and affect the look of your bronze watch which is something that adds to the unique and customizable nature of bronze watches.
Do Bronze watches scratch easily?
Bronze as a material is hard, which makes it quite suitable for watches. But it is not the hardest material out there. With that
said, it holds up against scratches relatively well. But what we have found from our own experience is that potential scratches that do develop on the case actually (in our opinion) add to the personality of a bronze watch. The tool-like, industrial patina, combined with some scratches makes for the perfect tool watch. In addition, any scratches are concealed quite well due to the oxidized surface.
Why should you have a bronze watch?
As you can see, there are a few key reasons why anyone would opt for a bronze watch. But because bronze is a trend in watches that has only gotten bigger in recent years, it seems that more and more people see the charm and appeal of wearing one.
The main reasons are of course:
- They develop a unique patina that is, in a way, customizable, for a completely unique look
- They develop a patina that makes it look sportier, industrialised, and tool-like, which goes perfect together with a dive or sports watch
- It is a historical material that works perfectly for dive watches due to its long and rich history of being used for maritime purposes.
All in all, bronze in watches is a trend that has only gotten bigger and more popular over the years. It seems that the bronze trend isn’t stopping any time soon, either, since more and more brands enter the bronze watch territory, including brands like Oris, Panerai, Tudor, Montblanc, Bell & Ross, and many more. In a world full of gold and steel watches, bronze is a refreshing material that is sure to stand out from the crowd and allow you to wear a watch that will certainly catch people’s attention.