In our latest watch blog, Paul White shares the newfound buzz around bronze watches, and what a collector may want to know before owning one.

Paul is originally from New York City and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Indiana State University. A frequent contributor to industry publications, Paul is a passionate film buff, home cook, and reader. A former sports and news talk host at Indianapolis’ WIBC Paul and his wife Carolyn are happily retired in Phoenix, Arizona, love to travel and visit their children and grandchildren. Avid watch collecting enthusiast.

The Thinker, picture sourced via Wikipedia

What do you think of when you think of the metal or the color bronze? Perhaps it’s a model or a finished piece for a work of sculpture, say Western art by Charles Russell or Frederick Remington. Maybe a copy of Rodin’s ubiquitous The Thinker.

If you are of a certain generation, bronze is what you did for a baby’s first pair of shoes, which were then prominently displayed on the mantle.

The vast majority of wristwatches are offered in stainless steel, some on straps, many on bracelets. You may have also seen a combination of metals, steel and rose gold, steel, and yellow gold. And, as always, there will be a healthy selection of luxury timepieces made in solid gold—yellow, rose, white—and the occasional platinum watch. But if you are a world-renowned maker of fine timepieces, there is a new metal option in town.

While shopping for a watch today, consumers will notice a metal that looks a little different than they might be used to—bronze. Bronze watches are becoming more and more popular and some watch experts have even started saying that we’re in the “Bronze Age of Watchmaking”. Retailers all over the country have made space on the shelves for the “Bronze Rush.” While it isn’t gold, it does have some similar color properties; and delivers a unique look at a  price point much lower than that of a gold watch.

Why Bronze?

Bronze is an attractive alternative metal for manufacturers. Why? First of all, it is different. On close inspection, it looks like a precious metal but has a completely different character and color. The color can vary from super yellow to a more rosy hue. The differences in color are achieved by the amount of copper added to the mix. More copper means a redder alloy.

So, while bronze may appear to be just another trend, it has a long history when it comes to timepieces. Though not widely used, bronze is not a new material in the construction of watch cases. In the 1940s, a renowned maker of Italian military timepieces experimented with bronze for watches made for their navy divers. The metal proved to be quite durable and provided an attractive finish.

Curiously, bronze is actually fairly scratch-resistant. Most stainless steel looks terrific when it’s brand new, but we all know how those highly polished areas tend to show scratches and wear over time. Gold is soft and scratches and dents easily. Bronze behaves differently and it can even be polished to remove blemishes.

Aging Up

What do buyers of bronze watches truly love? It’s all about the patina! Similar to the way people prefer the look of “patina” or aged leather; watch owners love that the bronze changes appearance over time. That original rosy or brassy yellow appearance will alter as the metal oxidizes and as the watch is exposed to air, water, the elements, skin oil, and more. The color will evolve to a grey-green shade with many permutations from there. It is the reason why, as you’ll see below, so many bronze watches are outfitted with green or brown colored dials.

Some owners of bronze watches, impatient to have their timepiece “age” without waiting, are rumored to accelerate the process by subjecting the case to substances such as tomato ketchup and cola drinks, which appear to speed up the change in color. As an owner of a bronze watch, I found that the change in color happened fairly rapidly so I would not recommend anything from the pantry to speed up the process!

Whether this trend in bronze will continue will depend on consumer response. While bronze watches are on the rise, the selection of bronze watches is still not numerous. Collectors take note though, the fact that bronze is limited to only a few makers and then used for a  few specific watches in a collection should keep these alternative metal pieces highly collectible.

Best Bets in Bronze

So now that you know the why of bronze, let’s look at some of the pieces you’ll find in our collections.

Oris of Hölstein offers an array of wonderful choices with bronze cases and accents, starting at $2,100. See the Divers and Big Crown Pointer Date models below.

ORIS Sixty-Five 40mm Watch photo

Oris Sixty-Five 40mm Watch, $2,450

ORIS Big Crown Pointer Date 40mm Watch

Oris Big Crown Pointer Date 40mm, $2,100

A fan favorite, TAG Heuer, offers the Autavia Model in bronze on the strap with two choices of dial, green or brown tone at $3,850 each.

TAG Heuer Autavia

TAG Heuer Autavia, $3,850, green dial

TAG Heuer Autavia

TAG Heuer Autavia, $3,850, brown dial

TUDOR Watch presents the familiar Black Bay Fifty-Eight watch in a unique full bronze case and bracelet model at $4,625 with a comfortable 39-millimeter case size (Boutique availability only). Other bronze versions include the two Black Bays below for $4,250.

TUDOR Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze

TUDOR Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze, $4,625

TUDOR Black Bay Bronze

TUDOR Black Bay Bronze, $4,250

TUDOR Black Bay Bronze

TUDOR Black Bay Bronze, $4,250


Finally, venerable IWC (International Watch Company) has joined the bronze brigade. Two of their most striking entries are the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Big Date Spitfire Edition “Mission Accomplished” 46mm and the IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire 39mm.

IWC Big Pilot's Watch Big Date Spitfire Edition "Mission Accomplished" 46mm Watch

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Big Date Spitfire Edition “Mission Accomplished” 46mm, $15,800

IWC Pilot's Watch Automatic Spitfire 39mm Watch

IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire 39mm, $5,150

Whether you are choosing your first watch or adding to your existing collection a timepiece in bronze will continue to evolve into something new year after year.

February 17, 2022