Since I got my first bronze watch some years ago I’ve enjoyed it a lot. For the simple reason that this bronze watch stands out from all other watches in my collection. After having the pleasure of wearing the Pinion Axis in bronze for a review, I acquired one. Bronze has proven to be a very popular material for watches, as many brands decided to use it over the past few years . The patina that appears over time makes a bronze watch very appealing, at least to me.
Normally, it takes time to get patina on your watch, but it surely gives a watch a unique appearance. With a bronze watch, the same thing happens but in very little time depending on the alloy. With the Pinion Axis we noticed a change within just weeks of wear of wearing the watch. Patina adds character to the watch and it makes it unique at the same time. And probably the best thing of patina on bronze is that you can reverse the process, as I will show you later on in this article. Although the material itself has subtly changed colour over time becoming a bit darker and warmer in appearance. As the patina on bronze is the result of oxidation of the alloy there are ways to speed up this process. So I had a go with the bronze watch patina of my Pinion.
Creating artificial patina is widely used in jewellery; for statues, art and crafting amongst things. Each time creating a unique look to the bronze or copper item. So I went ahead with all the ingredients needed for this experiment. The first thing needed is salt water and although the coast isn’t too far away I did it the easy way by dissolving the coarse salt in water. The other ingredient is ammonia and we used the regular 5% version which is generally available for cleaning purposes. As ammonia can be irritating we took the experiment outdoors.
We used two disposable containers and glued a bottle cap in one to hold the watch. This would hold a small amount of ammonia. The other container is used for the water solution. After dissolving the salt in the water we dipped the watch in it and shortly and placed in on the cap in the container with the ammonia. That’s when the waiting game begins although you can see the watch darken quite quick. When starting the experiment the Pinion Axis had some light patina on it as we cleaned it recently.
Without really timing the experiment we can use the time on the watch to indicate the sessions. After approximately 7 minutes we already had massive patina showing on the bronze. Time to take out the watch, leave it to dry and see what the effect looks like.
Quite impressive to see how fast the patina picked up and the vast amount of colours showed up on the bronze case. While still showing bits of the original colour there are hints of dark brown and red to a bright green/blue discolouring. And all that in under 10 minutes. After trying it on the wrist we continue with a second run. Again dipping the watch in the salt water and place it on the cap.
After the second run which again lasted under 10 minutes, the watch darkened up more. The bright green/blueish colour became less dominant. It’s quite clearly visible that the water dropped to the lower part of the case as the lower part has more patina 0n it. Time for a third run!
After the third session which lasted a bit longer, the patina only got stronger and gave more variation in the discolouring. Before cleaning the watch with some running water and soap we ‘accidentally’ dropped the watch in the ammonia. Just out of curiosity what would happen. Doing so made some of the patina disappear, especially on the sharp edges of the watch giving it a beaten up look. When you look at the crystal you can still see the original colour of the bronze.
Where it’s fun playing with your bronze watch patina it is also good to know that you can easily reverse the process. You can find some useful tips on the website of Pinion itself. Stubborn as we are we like to try other things. So later that day after wearing it for some time first we put the watch in some vinegar. This already cleared away a lot of the patina. Putting it in the ammonia after that, the bronze Pinion even got cleaner with only a minor patina left.
With most of the patina gone, I used a polishing cloth which helped to get the watch to looking fairly new again. As I mentioned at the start of this article, the bronze has changed a bit of colour. According to Pinion, this is normal for bronze to happen. Time to start growing some more natural patina again.
Bronze sure is a great material for a watch and it gives you something special on the wrist. There are more ways to create a patina on the bronze case and I will experiment some more with it in the future. Doing short runs gives you more control over the amount of patina. For this article, I’ve done three short runs including a short dip in the ammonia which had an opposite effect. You can leave the watch in the container with the ammonia for hours and hours which will make it go near black as we learned some months ago.
Bert Buijsrogge has worked in the real-estate business for 15 years and combined his passion for watches and photography over the years. He became famous for his watch photography and created a specific branded watch calendar for a number of... read more