In the landscape of timepieces, metals like stainless steel, titanium and gold are pretty commonplace. Bronze offers a breath of fresh air, even though it's a time-honored metal. Used for centuries to make ship fittings and seafaring equipment, bronze has a natural connection to the water. And unlike other metals, a watch with a bronze case will show its age, picking up on your specific habits to create a completely custom patina. The more you wear your bronze watch, the more unique it becomes.
How? Bronze ages over time, subject to atmospheric moisture along with the pH levels in the wearer's perspiration, allowing the metal to develop a genuine patina. The same greenish patina you might associate with a timeworn Greek statue. Which means there's no telling what one of these watches will look like after a year on your wrist.
Oris, whom we've dubbed "the best Swiss watches for your money," is making some truly unique bronze pieces right now. They're different, in the best possible way. The warm metal offers a breath of fresh air in a world of all-too-similar timepieces. "Bronze is a beautiful material with charming natural properties," says the company's co-CEO Rolf Studer. "But more than that, it's a utilitarian material that fits our approach to watchmaking and serves as a nod to our industrial heritage."
This handsome timepiece was created in honor of Carl Brashear, an inspirational figure who defied the odds to become the US Navy's first African American, the first amputee Master Diver and a legend among divers worldwide. The limited-edition watch uses bronze for its case, bezel, crown and pushers—a nod to Brashear's nautical history. It features a 42mm case, a 38 hour power reserve and a 10 bar water resistance. The classic chronograph layout on the dial is complemented by a vintage brown leather strap.
$4,950 at Oris
No watch tells the historic tale of independent Swiss watchmaker Oris quite like the iconic Big Crown Pointer Date. Introduced in 1938 as a pioneering tool for pilots, the watch had an oversized crown so that glove-wearing airmen could easily adjust it, along with a rather unusual complication—the date indicated by a central pointer hand. In the years since, it has remained in constant production, surviving wars, the advent of quartz and countless passing fashions to become Oris's signature design. For its 80th anniversary, Oris has created a special edition with a modern 40mm case, fluted bezel and oversized crown cast in bronze.
$2,000 at Oris
Following on from the revival of the iconic Oris Big Crown Pointer Date, this version features an old-school 36mm sizing. The more vintage size of the full bronze case gives the watch a casual and understated presence, while offering all of the warm color-changing fun that bronze is known to provide. The traditional pointer date function seems nicely matched with the throwback tones of the bronze case and warm green dial.
$1,900 at Oris