William Wood Watches Bronze Sapphire Review
I love it when a brand has an interesting story to tell, and the William Wood Watches Bronze Sapphire offers an excellent chance for the brand to do so.
It's a sleek looking diver's watch that combines heritage and a wonderful story with a well-crafted timepiece to offer a brilliant overall package. From the outset, I should say I love the Bronze Sapphire to pieces, and I'm certainly considering picking one up at some point in the future.
At £920, it's also pretty well priced and makes for an intriguing proposition for those wanting a left-field dive watch with a lot to like about it.
William Wood Watches Bronze Sapphire Design - A touch of class
The Bronze Sapphire is quite the smart-looking watch and the dark, navy blue strap and bezel match wonderfully with the bronze case and brass crown. It's more subtle than the likes of Christopher Ward's C65 Dune Automatic, but still remains quite eye-catching.
The 41mm case size fits my wrist well, and the Bronze Sapphire provides some wearable proportions for a variety of wrist sizes. This gives it a little more presence than some of the smaller watches I've worn in the past, as does the 49mm lug-to-lug. Its 16mm thickness including the double domed sapphire crystal glass gives it a nice retro aesthetic, as well as a chunky frame that fits well with its story.
Before taking a closer look at the dial, allow me to explore the story and heritage associated with the Bronze Sapphire, and William Wood Watches as a brand. Jonny Garrett is the man who founded William Wood Watches back in 2016, and the brand is named after his grandfather who served in the British Fire Service in Newcastle for 25 years. Each of the brand's watches seeks to build on that firefighting heritage, incorporating it into the build process. With this Bronze Sapphire, the crown is comprised of brass from a fireman's helmet from the same area as where Garrett's grandfather served, while the top side of the strap is made from reclaimed fire hose. It's the personality that's injected into the manufacturing that I just love about the Bronze Sapphire, as well as the fact it's a good looking piece, too.
The dial itself is a sandwich dial, with the navy blue top featuring circular cutouts as hour markers for the off-white sheet below. Combined with the domed crystal and checkered seconds track, it gives the Bronze Sapphire's dial some depth and texture, despite its singular colour. Its hands match the bronze casing well, and feature large luminous inserts to help the Bronze Sapphire's ability to glow in the dark. Its lettering is a singular colour, details the fact the company are based in London, that the watch is automatic, and it features 100 metres of water resistance. There's also a black and white date wheel at 3 o' clock for added convenience. The Bronze Sapphire's dial may be simple, but it's certainly effective.
Returning back to the case for a moment, the brushed finishing here is excellent, and the fact it's comprised of bronze is a nice touch. This is more of a left-field material compared to the sea of 316L stainless steel that you usually see in and around the £1000 price mark. It also makes the Bronze Sapphire a more affordable choice compared to the Christopher Ward C65 Aquitaine Bronze, for instance.
The rubberised strap feels excellent on wrist, too, while the reclaimed fire hose offers some more texture and harks back to the heritage of the Bronze Sapphire. If, for whatever reason, you do want to change it out, though, it is a quick-release option, although I can't see why you would. What's more, with 20mm lugs, you'll be sure to find plenty of other options. The strap is also available in a host of other colours, including Red, Yellow, Purple and Green.
The crown is made of brass, as opposed to bronze, but is made from reclaimed brass firefighter helmets that are a century older. Its colour matches well with the bronze casing, and it's also grippy, and a screw-down crown, too. There is also a boxed sapphire crystal which brings both the benefit of excellent, retro-inspired looks, as well as providing glass that is virtually unscratchable.
The reverse of the case is home to an exhibition caseback where you can see the watch's rotor, complete with William Wood Watches text and helmet logo, as well as seeing the movement whirring away. It's a nice touch, even if it's perhaps a little unnecessary.
William Wood Watches Bronze Sapphire Performance and Wearability - Rather comfortable, and with a reliable movement
The Bronze Sapphire's 41mm case diameter, and longer 49mm lug to lug means it filled my wrist well, and was rather comfortable to wear for a few weeks. The navy blue and bronze colour combination matched well with a variety of outfits too, especially considering my fashion tastes are quite dark colours as it is.
Despite its proportions, the Bronze Sapphire doesn't feel too heavy on wrist, and its 16mm thickness gives it a lot of presence, and certainly makes it stand out. Fitting it under a cuff might be more of a challenge, but more rugged coats and jackets will also pair well as we enter the autumn months.
As opposed to opting for a Swiss-made calibre, the Bronze Sapphire has gone with a Japanese automatic movement that's popular amongst microbrands. Everyone from William Wood Watches to Nodus Watches (such as on their Sector Sport) makes use of Seiko movements, and this Bronze Sapphire utilises a Seiko NH35. It's a reasonably reliable movement with a tolerance of -20/+40 seconds per day, and its 41-hour power reserve provides enough endurance when fully wound for it to last for nearly a couple of days, and is perfectly adequate. However, for a watch that's nearing four figures in terms of price, a Swiss-made calibre would have justified that price tag a little more.
The Bronze Sapphire also provides 100m of water resistance, which means you can take it into the water, especially with that screw-down crown, but don't go down too far. It's a watch with a diver's aesthetic, although lacks the full extent of the water resistance needed to go as deep as some may wish to go.
The William Wood Watches Bronze Sapphire is a gorgeous-looking and feeling watch with a wonderful story to go with it. Its case finishing is excellent, while the use of bronze alongside its navy blue colour looks fantastic. The proportions it offers are great, and it's rather comfortable to wear, suiting well with a variety of outfits. While the Seiko movement it uses inside is reliable, it may not necessarily be the best option in this price bracket. Nonetheless, the Bronze Sapphire is a wonderful choice for those wanting a clean-looking piece that's comfortable, well-finished and with a fabulous story to tell.
You can purchase the Bronze Sapphire for £920 from William Wood Watches here. William Wood Watches provided a sample for this review.
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