Here we are with the recipes that we have prepared to bring these interesting images of bronze watches that offer an original and personalized experience to their users with their patina and to turn them back to their brand-new condition.
Bronze, as a watch case material, is the rising trend of recent years. The pioneer of this popular trend was Panerai with the Submersible Bronzo model introduced in 2011. Before Panerai, bronze models were produced by different brands, albeit in a limited number, but none had reached the popularity created by the Italian spirited Swiss watchmaker. One of the most important reasons behind this hype was the combination of the Panerai spirit with the metallurgical properties of bronze. The watches designed following the legacy of the brand's maritime origins were changing and becoming more beautiful day by day due to the chemical properties of the bronze material as well as the effect of the moist air and cool waters of the Mediterranean. Bronze watches were almost alive.
The invention of bronze dates back to prehistoric times. According to researches, the first use of this alloy took place around BC 3500. The birth of bronze was a necessity rather than a choice as the people living in that period needed a more durable metal than copper. Almost 5500 years later, with the support of Panerai, bronze seems to have back its former glory. At least for the watchmaking industry.
Due to its material structure, bronze easily interacts with the oxygen atoms in the air and the chemical structure of the metal on the surface begins to change. This is not unique to bronze only as some different metals and alloys can also form a thin oxide layer on their surface after contact with air. This layer has no harm to the metal itself, and on the contrary, we can also describe it as a shield that the material forms to protect itself. When this layer reaches a sufficient thickness, the contact of the core of the metal with air is eliminated making the oxidation end. What we care about here regarding watches is the oxidized surface offering the watch a completely different look.
When bronze watches first come out of their boxes, they are bright and flashy enough to be confused with pink gold (despite the satin finishes), but this starts to change in days. Depending on the environmental conditions in which the user lives, the watches begin to oxidize and darken. This color change is a temporary situation because you observe that the watch gets its old look when you rub your finger or apply the methods described in the next paragraph. It takes a lot more time and oxidation factor for the layer to form permanently. As soon as this stage begins to happen, the green hard layer starts to form. But the permanence of this layer was very weak at first. However, many years later, it can become hard and wrapped around the material like a crust. So, if you are patient enough, you can carry that eye-catching green of the Statue of Liberty on your wrist. Some users like that patina look a lot. Each watch gets a different look since it is exposed to unique environmental conditions, and this makes these watches produced in limited quantities even more special.
Before we talk about how to clean the patina, let's talk about how we can create it artificially. As stated at the beginning of the article, oxygen is our main tool. If you are in a high humidity environment, the oxidation rate increases. Another important accelerator is seawater. If you expose your watch to saltwater (and of course you do not rinse it with clean water afterward) the patina proceeds much faster. Additionally, this time, the green layer starts to form, but since this layer takes a long time to harden, it is not that easy to obtain a permanent image. Another frequently used method is to leave the watch sealed in a bag with boiled eggs. The sulfur in the shredded boiled egg interacts easily with the bronze and the color changes much more than you can achieve in normal ways.
Now, let's talk about how to clean your oxidized watch. In this part, our main ingredient that comes to our rescue is acid. Of course, we are not talking about industrially strong acids with very small pH levels. We can clean our watch with materials that are much more naive and easier to access. Ketchup is one of the lightest abrasives in this regard. Putting your watch in ketchup is enough to clean your watch, in case it has a slight level of patina. In later stages, we can benefit from soda and lemon. Remember, our experiments showed that mixed fruit sodas are more effective than lemon soda.
Putting the watch in a bowl filled with soda and waiting for a short time is an excellent solution for cleaning the patina. You can even rub your watch directly with lemon. You will be amazed by the results. It is possible to find substances that do the same chemistry as lemon or soda, but in terms of accessibility and cost, it does not seem logical to go for other professional solutions while there are these options.
Let’s get to the cleaning process we did in our office with easy to get substances.
First we remove the strap.
Than we put the watch in a glass and fill the glass with soda water or soft drink. We can say that soft drinks works better than soda water.
In order to speed up the procedure and get better results, lemon juice can be added to the glass. We take the watch out after 15 minutes and rinse it with clean water. During this process, a tooth brush can be used for more effective cleaning.
After the process, our watch is restored back to its brand new condition.
One of the biggest concerns of the users is whether doing these operations over and over again does any harm to the watch. The oxide layer that forms on the surface of the bronze is thick enough to be measured with nanometers only. The destruction of the patina is done by intervening in this layer. In other words, the watch is actually losing its material. However, even if this is repeated at regular intervals over the years, this loss is never enough to be perceived by the human eye. Who knows, maybe a watch that is washed with soda every day may start losing its sharp lines after 100 years. As stated at the user manuals by Panerai, bronze watches can be restored to their original form by professional watchmakers. We are sure that they do not use soda or ketchup.
With bronze watches, we carry works of art that almost live on our wrists, change their form, and show characteristics of living things. Patina symbolizes not only a color change but experiences as well. Sometimes we continue our way with all the memories. Sometimes we want to leave them all behind and make a fresh start.