In december 2018, the annual Belgium Watch Club birthday dinner took place in Brussels. I went with 2 watches, and came home with 3.
Mister Tudor gave me his Tudor Black Bay bronze to write a review on. I don’t know whether his decision was based on genuine care for the website or fishing for free shout outs. I think it’s somewhere in the middle.
After wearing the Tudor Bronze for a few days, I started wondering: Why are bronze watches so interesting, and why don’t we see them that often in the streets? Sure, there is a rise in the use of bronze in horology. IWC launched a whole new bronze line at SIHH, and the OG Bronzo was Panerai’s best (and maybe only good, sorrynotsorry) limited edition to date.
Bronze age or a phase?
The material watchcases are made of have evolved a lot the past few years. Titanium cases are strong and light, ceramic is scratch proof, platinum is the new gold and Rolex even made their own rose gold (Everose), because normal rose gold is too mainstream. Bronze has none of these features. It’s not rare, it’s barely more expensive than steel, it’s a LOT softer than steel and has the same bling factor as a pair of crocs.
Why are bronze watches a thing?
Every watch geek wants a watch with a story, a ‘loved one’. We have all heard story’s about people who have worn the same watch for 60 years, and we can only envy the bond they have with their timepiece. Just like the stories from soldiers who fought battles and crawled through the mud with their Submariners.
We want watches with scratches that tell stories.
The Black Bay bronze can get you that without having to plough through Vietnamese mud. Every patina is unique, and in every patina-pattern you can read a history of places that watch has brought you. Sunny days at the beach, sailing, pool days… It’s all visible.
The new ones look gold, but after some time outside they start to get a patina. You want to keep the case fresh and shiny? Keep the bronze clean and dry. You want a rich, dark patina? Go swimming, or throw it in seawater for a few days. Really want to spice things up? Vinager fumes!
Why is the case back made of another material?
The fun part is checking the state of the patina. On the case back of the Tudor you can see the original color of the watch when you bought it.
The case back is made of another alloy in the same color. Other brands use steel case backs. This is because the bronze should NEVER touch your skin. The reason is simple: dirty shirts and incurable diseases. The case back is always in contact with your skin, and on warm days things can get moist (disgusting, I know). The salt in your sweat makes bronze rust even faster.
This means that after one hot summer, you would have green rust stains on your skin and clothing. Also, metal poisoning could rise up after a few years of having rust rubbed into your pores, which brings horrible consequences. Strangely, this is almost mentioned. But imagine your shirts gets dirty.
Should I buy a bronze watch?
Bronze watches aren’t for everyone. If you are a ‘one watch’ guy, don’t go bronze. It’s fun, but not an everyday-every occasion watch.
Panerai is a bit out of my budget, because 20K for a ‘fun watch’ is a bit much. Same goes with IWC. Bronze is fun, but it’s weird on a perpetual calendar. That’s why I prefer the Tudor and the Oris, and since I’m a brand slut, the Tudor gets my vote!
If you are looking for some variation in the collection, go bronze.
A big shout out to Mister Tudor for lending me his watch.