I’ll just get one thing out of the way – I really really like bronze cases. I also happen to be a fan of the few Ickler cases I’ve had in for reviews. So, when I heard the news that Archimede had a new pilot watch series out, featuring an Ickler case in bronze, I knew it was one that I wanted to review. Note that Archimede is technically part of the Ickler family of companies.
While I can’t quite put my finger on why I like the alloy so much, it does definitely have some very unique properties. It’s one of our oldest alloys (dating back to the 4th century B.C.), it’s non-magnetic, and it has an astoundingly high melting point (1000 °C / 1800 °F). For me, the best quality is the fact that the metal develops a patina. This is actually a thin layer of oxidation that keeps the underlying metal safe from any further corrosion. In terms of a watch case, that means you’ll get a pattern on the case that is specific to your body chemistry, as well as how you wore it (ie, out for a swim, or just to the office).
Most bronze watches that I’ve written about in the past feature rather heavy cases, as the metal most commonly appears in dive watches. Here, in the Pilot 42, Archimede has a much more refined feeling. While the diameter measures in at a modern 42mm, the thickness is just under 10mm – which makes for a very thin automatic (it houses an ETA 2824-2). Combine this with the luster of the bronze, and the deep black dial, and you’ve got something that, while not quite a classic dress piece, is something that would work for anything short of black tie, in my book.
Archimede went for the CuSn8 alloy, which is 92% copper, and 8% tin. The large crown is also made of the same material, while the case back is made of stainless steel. While I suppose it may be possible to have a bronze case back, the steel there is actually a good choice, as it will help keep you from getting a nice green circle on your wrist (which can happen with bronze as it reacts with your perspiration). The bronze itself has no treatment applied, so it can develop that lovely patina as you wear it. Though, should you prefer to keep things on the shinier side, I’m told there are ways of polishing it with a cloth to keep the patina away. Or, if you prefer, there are a variety of options (some include Coca Cola, I believe) of speeding the aging process along.