Being one of the primary alloys in shipbuilding, bronze has been fallen from grace upon spreading use of stainless steel. Now it’s becoming quite popular again... But in a very different way...
The battle of movements goes on fiercely in Swiss Watchmaking. Many brands show up with their own movements trying to make a difference with slight details. Though this battle presents a great deal of labor and experience, it often lacks being impressive enough for the fellow watch aficionados. Right at this point, “visuality” kicks in... The brands, who are well aware of this reality, square the center to make their products attractive and garish. Among a vast variety of specifications, the case materials take the lead.
We have witnessed many novelties regarding the case materials such as different gold alloys, fine ceramic, carbon and composite. Right after the introduction of an Officine Panerai timepiece in 2011, bronze cases came into prominence.
Actually, there have been various timepieces with cases made of bronze but, none of them made an impact like the Panerai Submersible Bronzo. We decided to review three different bronze case models with the valuable members of Team Horobox; Burak BAYRAM and Cenk ÖNCÜ.
I might say that using bronze for making watch cases is a discussion topic of its own. Though I personally like it a lot and have been using it for a long time, I cannot say bronze cases have no points for criticism.
The watches we have here have cases built from different types of bronze alloys. While the Special Edition model of 2013 “PAM000507” is the second bronze timepiece of the brand, IWC’s Aquatimer Chronograph, which was dedicated to the famous British naturalist Charles Darwin and Tudor’s Heritage Black Bay are the first bronze products of their brands.
We tried to perform a multi section test and find the winner of the battle. It was a difficult task for us but pretty fun at the same time. Hope you enjoy as much as we did...
When we make a side-to-side comparison, the legendary Panerai Submersible differs at the first glance with its 47mm case. Though it’s a matter of personal taste, we cannot absent ourselves from finding the color and the patina of Panerai far better than the other contestants. All three models earn our appreciation with their unique style details which reveal their identity effortlessly. IWC Aquatimer catches our attention with its mirror polished finishing and Charles Darwin engraving on the caseback. As per our scoring system on a scale of 1 to 10, Panerai becomes the winner:
In this section, we have three different colors. Tudor Black Bay’s brown colored dial leaves behind Panerai’s green dial and IWC’s black dial. The signature detail of the brand “snow flake” hands helps the Tudor stretch out. The power reserve indicator on Panerai’s dial, while being desired by some watch enthusiasts, is not appreciated by our team and shaved off a few points. At the end of the day, all timepieces offer a solid wrist presence. The scores are:
I do not think it’s required to tell the importance of those items for a dive watch. As it appears, the brands are well aware of that fact as well. This is the most fun but also most time consuming part of our test. Tudor’s matt brown aluminum bezel is simple but quite cool. Black Bay got a nice touch about the crown too; the timepiece features the famous “big crown” which we recall from the legendary Ref.7924 model. The Aquatimer on the other hand, offers the most successful bezel in terms of operation. Inner rotating diver’s bezel takes this timepiece apart from the others. Panerai is appreciated by its classic diver’s bezel and patented crown guard as always. These details reflect to the score and this section ends in draw:
The strap choices of Tudor perfectly fit with the Black Bay. Both leather and fabric straps complete the unique look of the watch with their bronze ( simulated ) clasps. Aquatimer shines in this section with its easy strap change system. It’s rubber strap and the matching clasp nicely fits the watch. When it gets to Panerai we better make an exclusive test as wearing the same Panerai with various straps became more like madness. Though PAM00507 is offered with two beautiful straps, it lost a few points here due to the non-matching titanium buckle. By the way, the PAM00507 we have here sports a perfect strap and a cool looking clasp.
Both three models feature their own in-house movements. Caliber Ref. P.9002 gets our appreciation with its 72h power reserve and useful functions like date display and power reserve indicator. PAM00507 also features a neat hacking function. When you pull the crown out, the second hand not only stops but resets to 12 o’clock position as well allowing the user to synchronize to an outer source with less effort. The Aquatimer houses the only chronograph movement in our test. Caliber Ref.89365 features a date display and offers 68h of power reserve when fully wound. On the other side, COSC certified Caliber Ref. MT5601 bears great importance to the brand as it is the first in-house movement from Tudor. MT5601 offers a similar power reserve time with 70h. Considering all the details, Horobox editors decide this section to end in draw as well:
It is pretty hard to find a sample of PAM00507 nowadays as it was a special edition of 2013 and limited to 1000 pieces only. If you find one, be prepared to pay 20000,00 EUR more as the model appreciated a lot over its 9900,00 EUR MSRP back in 2013. Aquatimer retails for 10400,00 EUR. I think it’s going to be a bit difficult to get this timepiece through sales corners however, I am sure the brand boutiques will help you about that. Tudor Heritage Black Bay offers an amazingly nice price tag when compared to the quality you are paying for. The model retails for 3800,00 EUR but it is not very widely distributed yet which means you may end up not finding it in every sales corner. Horobox editors evaluate all that information and decide Panerai to take the first position in this section:
When we look at the grand total we notice that PAM00507 wins by a neck. Of course, this result does not make our Burak BAYRAM who literally could not take his eyes off the Tudor Heritage Black Bay and Cenk ÖNCÜ could not take the IWC Aquatimer off his wrist happy but, at the end of the day we all agree that we performed an honest test here.