Smart Dressing

Prep your wrist for the new bronze watch age

Steel, gold, even platinum watches – we’ve been here many times before. Shaking up the establishment is bronze, a watchmaking material for an enquiring mind

In the canon of watch case materials, we find a roster of familiar suspects. Stainless steel (utilitarian, versatile, safe), yellow, white and rose gold (respectively, a bit gauche, achingly subtle and warm like a bucolic English summer’s day) and platinum (rare, pricey, heavy). And then we get some more technical materials – plenty of brands play with titanium, carbon fibre and ceramic, although after a decade and more of experimentation, they’re all now pretty humdrum, too. It then gets squiffy at the Richard Mille/Roger Dubuis end of the spectrum, where we find exotic materials hitherto known only to aerospace boffins and their kin, such as graphene, Carbon TPT and Chrome Cobalt Micro-Melt.

Fitting in somewhere on that list is bronze, an unexpected entry given its comparative ordinariness and relative impracticality. Bronze, after all, is old-school, and good for ancient burial sites, Henry Moore sculptures and diving-suit-wearing, marathon-running fundraisers. It also patinates, or darkens, quickly (depending on things like the PH levels of your skin), which some will find irritating, others charming. The line being that once your watch has patinated, no two are the same – although the same, naysayers would argue, is true of a ding or a worn strap.

But it’s growing in popularity and watch brands are turning to it in numbers. At base, the appeal of bronze is that when new, it glows like rose gold, but costs much less. It’s also ‘different’ – how many people do you know who own a bronze watch? Here’s our edit of the finest bronze watches, both current and to come.