Historically overlooked for its gold and steel counterparts, bronze has found a new vogue in the watch world, appearing on cases from some of the horology’s biggest brands. While still relatively rare, its sturdy properties and stylish champagne hue have proved ideal for pilot's watches and diving timepieces, creating unusual pieces which subtly stand out from the crowd. Here are some of the finest…
Perfect patina: The modern bronze watches to buy now
Swiss watchmaker IWC is one of the biggest proponents of bronze cases offering a number of bronze models across its Pilot’s aviation and Aquatimer diving ranges. One of the newest, and most impressive, is the Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar Spitfire which was introduced at SIHH 2019. Its 46.2mm case houses a calibre 52615 self-winding movement which powers a number of complications, including a perpetual calendar, perpetual moonphase for both hemispheres and date display, with a power reserve of seven days.
Movement: Calibre 52615 automatic self-winding
Waterproof: 60 metres
Limited edition: 250
Price: £23,890, iwc.com
Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo
A big indicator of the growing popularity of bronze timepieces, Panerai also added to its range of bronze diver’s watches at SIHH 2019. Consisting of four timepieces, each of the new Submersible models features a 47mm bronze case, small seconds subdial and date display and are available with brown, blue or green dials. Limited to 1,000 pieces, the deep navy is the obvious choice for seafarers.
Movement: Calibre P.9010 automatic
Waterproof: 30 metres
Limited edition: 1,000
Price: £12,200, panerai.com
Tudor Black Bay Bronze
Another recent launch, Tudor unveiled the latest iterations of its Black Bay Bronze at Baselworld 2019 as part of its #BornToDare campaign with ambassador David Beckham. This rugged diving watch features a 43mm case with unidirectional rotating bronze bezel and sleek grey dial finished with luminescent numbers, indicators and hands for easy readability. An ideal day-to-evening watch, it is available with either a leather or fabric strap.
Strap: Leather or fabric
Movement: Calibre MT5601 self-winding
Waterproof: 200 metres
Price: £2,190, tudorwatch.com
Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph
An elegant everyday timepiece that offers a great alternative to traditional steel models, Montblanc’s 1858 Automatic Chronograph packs a calibre MB 25.11 movement powering a 30-minute counter and central chronograph hand into a 42mm case. The sunburst champagne dial also features vintage-style numerals tapping into the current trend for watches with a retro aesthetic.
Movement: Calibre MB 25.11 automatic
Waterproof: 100 metres
Price: £4,100, montblanc.com
Zenith Pilot Type 20
Zenith offers no fewer than 10 bronze designs in its Pilot Type 20 line putting it among the most prolific users of the case material. Ranging in size from 40mm to 45mm, the watch is available with or without chronograph functions in black, blue or green dials and co-ordinating straps – including an unusual camo print number.
Case: 40 or 45mm
Movement: Elite 769 automatic or El Primero 4069 automatic (chronograph)
Waterproof: 100 metres
Price: From £4,900, zenith-watches.com