Wednesday, March 23, 2016

MEET THE WATCH: A Brassy and Affordable "Bronze Inspired" Watch by 32 Degrees

Reading the reports coming from 2016 Baselworld reveals that bronze is one of the trendy materials that watch manufacturers are experimenting with. Big name brands like Tudor are using this material so it is no longer reserved for boutique brands or Kickstarter projects.

I have always been fascinated by the use of this alloy because bronze is known to react to outside chemical stimuli and change on the surface making a patina. Each watch patinas differently based on exposure factors and the type of metal used in the case.

Even two bronze watches that are oxidized side by side in the same way may end up looking different. That unpredictability is what makes the material so intriguing. With the correct chemical knowledge, owners of bronze watches can manipulate the patina to different variations ranging from green to golden yellow to dark brown... and everything in between.

Brass exhibits similar properties and can patina, but there is a different look about it. Both brass and bronze start golden yellow and morph into something else over time. The owner can reverse the process as well making the watch look shiny and golden new again.

There is another category that I will be talking about today which is the bronze-like or brass-like finish that can be found on some watches. These watches do not have actual bronze or brass, but are color stainless steel with the look of the actual material. It should be obvious that the watches that use the effect for looks will be on a lower rung in the desirability ladder, but that does not mean they should be ignored.

I have no certainty what material was used to make the case of this 32 Degrees chronograph watch. It appears to be solid brass, but that is doubtful since I paid very little for it. Brass and bronze timepieces usually command a premium price. We will assume that is it not the genuine article and just talk about its looks. However, zooming into the crown region might show the start of a patina or it could just be debris. I'm not sure.

The case appears to be carved from a solid chunk of brass. The stainless steel caseback is held on by 6 screws.

The shape of the watch is called a barrel tonneau. Why you ask? Because it looks like a whiskey barrel from above. The most striking thing about this watch is definitely the brushed brass/bronze-like finish that is juxtaposed against the blue dial with red and brass accents.

This watch uses a combination of brushed, knurled and polished finishes to harmonize all the components while also giving each part individual personality. This is a lot of detail for the money. With a forced patina, I think that this to be a great steampunk watch.

The bezel with 6 screws reminds me of brass portholes in an old ship. The finishing on this watch is pretty good for a so called fashion brand. The band is an ultra comfortable pre-curved soft brown silicon rubber.

It sports a matching metal buckle. The markers are applied in the same bronze material as is the logo and sub dial rings. I think the designer did a decent job weaving the use of the brass into many aspects of the watch instead of just the case. The watch features a 30 minute chronograph subdial, a continuously ticking small seconds subdial and a 24-hour indicator sub dial.

In all, this is a stunning watch for very little money. Just compare it to watches costing under $50, and you will see that this design grabbed the brass ring. I hated to get rid of it, but I am saving a spot in my watch case for a real bronze watch. I can't wait!

No comments: