There’s been a relatively recent trend in modern luxury watches focused on expanding material choices. While traditional metals such as steel, gold, and platinum will always be around, watchmakers are looking to other materials too including ceramic, titanium, and sapphire cases.
One intriguing material that’s been getting plenty of attention among Swiss watchmakers is bronze, which not only develops a patina over time but every watch will turn differently depending on the wearer and the environment. It’s important to note that bronze as a watch metal is polarizing — some people love that aged weathered look while others aren’t fans of the tarnishing.
The history of bronze watches isn’t an old one; in fact, the first bronze wristwatch debuted in 1988 in the form of the Gérald Genta Gefica Safari. That’s right, Gerald Genta, the man behind iconic luxury watches such as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Patek Philippe Nautilius, Cartier Pasha, and a string of other smash hits also gave us the world’s first bronze watch. However, the watch was ahead of its time and never really took off.
It’s Panerai that can be credited for popularizing bronze watches when the brand launched the Luminor Submersible Bronzo PAM00382 bronze diving watch in 2011. Not only did bronze become a material in regular rotation at Panerai but other watch brands also took note and started offering their own bronze beauties. If you’re a fan of this oxidizing alloy, here are five bronze watches to know.
Founded in Holstein, Switzerland in 1904, Oris is a brand that’s beloved among watch enthusiasts for its ability to offer plenty of value for not that much money. Oris launched the Big Crown Pointer model, which is characterized by an oversized winding crown and a hand that points to the date (instead of showing the date via a window), in 1938 specifically for pilots. More than 80 years later, it remains a mainstay of the brand’s current collection.
While Oris has many iterations of the Big Crown Pointer and several bronze watches, we particularly like the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date 36 Bronze variant. The compact 36mm case dimensions will suit many wrist sizes while the light green dial and tanned light brown leather strap complement the bronze beautifully. The coin-edged bezel, dial layout, and cathedral-style hands all emphasize the vintage style of the watch. The back of the bronze Big Crown Pointer is furnished with steel (to prevent any allergic reactions) and a sapphire display window for a view of the automatic movement within.
As one of the biggest and most storied watch brands in the market, Longines is great at many styles. However, it’s the company’s modern iterations of “heritage” watches that are particularly excellent at showing off what Longines does best. Take for example the Longines Legend Diver line, which came out in 2007 and is based on a vintage diver from the late-1950s.
2020 saw the arrival of the stunning Longines Legend Diver Bronze, which pairs a 42mm bronze compressor-style case with an on-trend smoky green dial. Longines sells the watch with a brown leather strap, along with a second green NATO-style fabric strap. Shielding the dial is a curvy domed sapphire crystal, which leans into the retro vibes of the watch and the case is home to two crowns: one to set the time and the other to rotate the internal timing bezel. The bronze Longines Legend Diver is water-resistant to 300 meters, runs on an automatic movement, and the part of the caseback that touches the skin is fashioned from ultra-light titanium.
The origin of the Autavia name, which is a portmanteau of “automobile” and “aviation, dates back to 1933 as dashboard instruments for cars and planes. It wasn’t until 1962 that it was reborn as a wristwatch and it continued to be a successful collection for the brand until the late-1980s. The modern incarnation of the Autavia appeared only a few years back and today, the collection is home to time and date models and chronographs
The TAG Heuer Autavia Caliber 5 Bronze is one of those time and date editions but also benefits from a rotating timing bezel. The bronze case measures a generous 42mm and is water resistant to 100 meters. This particular edition offers up a chocolate colorway with its brown ceramic bezel, brown smoked dial, and brown leather strap. Beneath the titanium caseback is the automatic Calibre 5 movement, certified as a chronometer by COSC.
If you’re familiar with Tudor, then you’ll know that the brand has been rapidly expanding its flagship Black Bay line with plenty of different sizes, features, and materials. One of the newer releases that took watch circles by storm was the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze, which not only sports a 39mm bronze case (with a bronze-colored PVD steel caseback) but a full bronze bracelet too, complete with a new clasp with a redesigned cover and Tudor "T-fit" rapid adjustment system to adjust the length of the bracelet in 5 positions to an additional 8mm in length. Other details include a shaded matte brown dial, a brown anodized-aluminum bezel, and an in-house automatic movement inside the case.
While Tudor maintains that it uses a special bronze alloy to prevent any skin tarnishing, there have been a few reports of the bracelet turning wrists green on super hot days (the stain washes off easily apparently). So maybe on blistering days, it's better to switch out the bronze bracelet with the “brown-bronze” jacquard fabric strap that’s included in the set!
So we’re cheating a little here with our list of bronze watches because this Omega Seamaster 300 model released in 2021 isn’t strictly made of bronze (which itself is an alloy of copper and tin) but a new alloy the company is calling Bronze Gold. Bronze Gold is a proprietary Omega alloy composed of about 50% copper, 37.5% gold (9k gold), and other parts palladium and silver.
This watch is for the folks who want that warm bronze hue but not the dramatic patina or verdigris that comes along with it. The Omega Seamaster 300 Bronze Gold will patina over time, but in a much more controlled way than other bronze watches and it will not turn the wearer’s skin green. In fact, unlike other bronze watches that rely on a different metal for the caseback, the Seamaster 300 Bronze Gold does not as it can safely come in direct contact with skin. On top of the 41mm Bronze Gold case (which as its name states is water-resistant to 300 meters) is a unidirectional brown ceramic diving bezel. The back of the watch includes a sapphire window where you can see the Master Chronometer automatic movement at work.
If you're digging the new bronze watch trend, then head over to luxxee's search engine to find the perfect one for your collection. luxxee searches all the top luxury watch websites and brings you all the best listings in one easy-to-compare spot. From Rolex and Omega to Cartier and Breitling to Oris and Longines, luxxee has you covered.