There are pros and cons to owning a bronze luxury watch.
Bronze is soft metal, so if you want maximum durability then you’re in the wrong department (may we direct Sir to the stainless-steel models, instead?) On the other hand, if it’s looks and character you’re after from your watch, then bronze is an excellent choice.
Wear a bronze watch for a few days and its brightness will start to dull as it tuns a brown-ish colour. This is a good thing! Your watch will start to look aged, loved and above all, it will look like no one else’s watch. It will be unique. Also, bronze won’t corrode the way that steel and iron will because it chemically concocts a patina to protect it from damage, meaning the more you abuse it, the stronger it becomes. Even saltwater and brine can’t penetrate the beauty of bronze.
That’s the thinking at Omega, where the Swiss watch giant has been tinkering away to combine the old-school charm of bronze with a raft of retro design cues, to produce the latest version of its flagship Seamaster 300 diver watch. And it is a truly beautiful thing.
The new 41mm Seamaster uses what Omega is calling “Bronze Gold”, the first time the company has created such an alloy (the patent's still pending). The alloy is unique in that it provides the warmth of colour and gentle ageing properties of bronze over the long term without getting any unsightly green oxidisation in the process – something you tend to see in marine-grade alloys. To get there, Omega developed its own hybrid alloy from copper, gold, silver and palladium. Used for the entire case and the buckle, the one-of-a-kind alloy contains 37.5 per cent gold, hallmarked as 9K, as well as palladium and silver, to create a colour Omega says sits between its existing "18K Moonshine gold" and its "18K Sedna gold".
The watch looks different, and it feels different too. The vintage Arabic “open style” numerals are inspired by Seamasters from the Sixties, the “lollipop” second hand came from a 1959 model and the domed sapphire crystal is slimmed down and integrated into the watch, so it appears flatter than recent versions – another retro nod. The dial has been cleaned up so that only the words “Omega” and “Seamaster” are displayed – other info has moved to the case back. The strap and the clasp have both been slimmed down and redesigned too.
“Looking at watchmaking from a seafaring perspective, there is one material that is very, very important but has not been used widely in the watchmaking past,” says Petros Protopapas, Omega’s brand heritage director. “As a diver myself I am well aware of the important role bronze played in creating equipment for divers. Bronze has a high resistance to salt water and to salty-air atmosphere. We looked to the past and created a new alloy, and watch to go with it.”
To our mind this is one of the nicest iterations of the Seamaster in its 70-plus year history, a masterclass in pinching just enough old-school references to stop it feeling like a pastiche, then arranging them into a smart, contemporary watch. (Who knows if this was the intention, but we can imagine this one making customers think twice about “going vintage” over new.)
As well as this flagship oxidised bronze/ gold design, the new Seamaster is available with a blue and a black dial in stainless steel – should Sir feel that actually, maximum durability is what’s required after all. Each features a 60-hour power reserve and Omega’s latest Calibre 8912 movement, certified by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS) for superior accuracy.
Omega has also announced another watch – the “Seamaster Diver 300M Black Black”. As its name suggests, it’s black – black dial, black hands, black case, black markings, black rubber strap... all black. This version of the Diver – the more pro Seamaster line first released in 1993 – uses contrasting shades to ensure legibility, as well as a range of materials from ceramic to rubber. Omega has laser-ablated almost every detail on the ceramic dial. From the waves to the minute track, wording and even its Omega – all the details have been crafted in positive relief from just one single piece. The engineers have also used a laser-ablated finish on the bezel to create the diving scale in positive relief, and in a different texture to the rest of the bezel. Omega says that there are a total of four different finishes applied to these various ceramic components.
Then again, maybe there's still time...
Omega's Seamaster 300 is £9,920 for the bronze/gold version; £5,560 for the others. The Seamaster Diver 300 Black Black is available from July; £7,410. omegawatches.com
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