Bronze watches have been gaining many new fans over these past few years, a growing interest which is easy to understand. A watch made from bronze rather than stainless steel offers a dynamic alternative for those who acknowledge and enjoy the forever changing colour and appearance of the watch. It is quite an enchanting process to follow over time, with each week revealing new and subtle changes over the previous. It is safe to say we are fans of this material, so how about a little bit of history…
The formidable Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Bronzo
Bronze as a material is man-made. You will have heard of the Bronze Age which began some 5,000 years ago. Back then, our ancestors created the first alloy made by man. Through a process of heating copper to 1000 degrees and adding Arsenic, the element As and not the poison, bronze was the product. It was found to be significantly tougher than copper and it was highly suitable for everything from weapons to tools. As the processes improved, Arsenic was soon replaced by Tin with the result remaining the same. Bronze in this guise ruled supreme until about 1200BC where iron took over. Iron was simply more abundant and when alloyed with carbon, you get steel.
The use of bronze for smaller items was well established by this time. The Romans however saw a greater potential in bronze for decorative and security purposes by cladding doors with the material. It would take until the Middle Ages for bronze to be more widely used in architectural applications. To this day, doors dating back to the 15th century and earlier still remain, a testament to the durability of this material. The majority of buildings that feature architectural bronze windows and doors and other decorative features date from the 18th and 19th Century, reflecting the taste and choices of that period.
Over the centuries, and after having been more and more marginalised by iron and steel, bronze has become a prized metal which is generally used on relatively small items of high value. Medals, sculptures and works of art are indicators as to the true worth of this material. The aesthetic qualities of bronze when considered with the sustainable and enduring properties of the material are a combination that will prove to be a long term investment to your home or project.
A beautiful bronze door and from the Antoni Gaudi designed Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
But one thing is the use of bronze for tooling, architecture and decorative purposes. Taking the material to a whole other level is the industrial use of bronze where it still leads the way over all other alloys. One industry that is particularly reliant on bronze is ship building. The world largest propeller which incidentally was built for the world's largest ship, the Danish Emma Maersk, is made of bronze - more specifically, an alloy consisting of copper, aluminium, nickel, iron, and manganese. The propeller is designed to move a seagoing vessel which measures a stunning 1,302 feet (397m). We would say let that sink in, but it seemed crass.
Made by the German company Mecklenburger Metallguss GmbH (MMG), the bronze propeller has a diameter of 31.5 feet (9.6 meters) and weighs over 130 tons. Because of its massive size, it required two weeks to cool after casting. After that, it took another three weeks of milling before it was ready for delivery and installation. Why is it that the marine industry favours bronze over other alloys? For starters no other alloy is more corrosion resistant than bronze. From a seafaring perspective, it is almost completely resistant to the growth of marine life like barnacles. These are two of the biggest obstacles in the shipping industry from an operational perspective, and bronze navigates them both.
Despite of the superior qualities of bronze corrosion resistance, it wasn’t until 1990 that the Swiss watch designer Gérald Genta penned the world’s first bronze divers watch. Keep in mind that this is long after steel had established itself as the preferred material for watches made for marine purposes. Strictly from a suitability perspective, every marine watch ought to be made of bronze rather than steel simply due to its reaction with water. Like steel, Bronze corrodes. Unlike steel however, bronze does not flake as it corrodes, rather it forms a hard coat which strengthens it and creates a protective layer. It is this layer that is an ever changing work of art, that you either love and respect, or absolutely dislike because it makes the watch case look worn. It is stronger and more dynamic over time.
At Enoksen we love bronze - both for its history, its robustness and its ever-changing appearance. To us, it makes perfect sense to offer a number of watches that celebrate the hard-wearing quality of bronze. Indeed we see bronze as the thinking man’s gold.
The Deep Dive E01/G
The latest addition to our range of bronze watches. Our signature watch is now available in solid bronze, and true to Deep Dive form this watch has all the features our customers have come to expect from a Deep Dive watch: 1,000m water resistance, triple-layer sapphire crystal, ceramic bezel, Helium Escape Valve, and Seiko NH35A automatic movement.
The Fly E03/F
Our first bronze watch is the Fly E03/F. This watch is a tribute to the proud aviation history of our hometown, Belfast. Despite the aviation inspired design, the E03/F is an ultra versatile watch which is highly suitable for all water sports activities, thanks to a 200m water resistance and a sapphire crystal. Powered by what has become our in-house automatic movement, the Seiko NH35A, this watch is designed for the journey ahead.