Delma Shell Star Bronze
The Delma Shell Star Bronze provides an affordable means of bronze watch ownership. Moreover, as Angus Davies explains, prospective purchasers of this watch can be rest assured that value and virtue can happily co-exist.
The first bronze watch I can recall seeing was made by the Florentine brand, Anonimo, released circa 2006. Thereafter, IWC, MeisterSinger, Panerai, Tudor et al. also released watch cases hewn from billets of the copper-toned alloy.
Bronze is comprised of copper and tin, with the percentage of tin varying depending on the properties sought. This alloy has long been associated with naval use, including the manufacture of historic diving helmets and a variety of maritime instruments, including sextants. Indeed, it is the historical ties to seafaring activities which appears to legitimise the use of bronze for divers’ watches.
The primary reason most people are drawn to bronze timepieces is because they acquire a degree of patination. The rate at which the verdigris forms on the case of the watch depends on the composition of the bronze and whether the surface has been treated in order to inhibit patination. While some wearers wish to preserve the box-fresh appearance of their bronze watch, others yearn for a watch suffused with vivid green hues.
Initially, I was unsure about the idea of owning a patinated watch. It just didn’t seem compatible with my pernickety, fastidious nature. However, I have subsequently warmed to the charms of bronze watches and now I would dearly like to add one to my modest watch collection.
Unfortunately, the coquettish charms of a green-eyed beauty comes at a price. A few weeks ago, if you asked me about the cost of a bronze watch, I would have insisted that prices would be north of £2000. However, I recently visited Delma, a watch firm based in Lengnau, Switzerland and saw first hand a bronze diver’s watch, priced at just £1,290 (RRP as at 30.10.2019). As a proud Lancastrian with a penchant for value, I felt an unwavering urge to scrutinise this new model more closely.
The Delma Shell Star Bronze is offered with a choice of three dial colours: blue, brown and green. Normally, I would favour one dial colour over another, but, in this instance each shade is attractive and, like a virtuous parent, I have no favourites.
Appraising the epidermis of the dial, one cannot fail to notice its granular texture. Delma describe the surface as ‘sand textured’, stating that the finish is ‘reminiscent of the seabed’. Certainly, the horological vista presented proves interesting, surpassing the perfunctory.
The hour and minute hands are plump and feature a liberal application of luminescent treatment. Likewise, the central sweep seconds hand and indexes also stand out, courtesy of Super-LumiNova C3, one of the brightest luminescent treatments available. A date display completes the inventory of indications.
Readability is a prerequisite of all divers’ watches. When exploring oceans deep, the prevailing conditions inhibit readability and wearers can often struggle to see the dial on many ‘normal’ watches. However, the hands and indexes found on most divers’ watches enunciate meaning as clearly as a BBC News presenter with a cut-glass accent, especially on terra firma. Indeed, this is one of the primary reasons many would-be wearers are attracted to this genre of watch. The Delma Shell Star Bronze upholds this reputation for lucidity, proclaiming the prevailing time with extraordinary clarity.
The family firm from Switzerland has used ‘CUSN6 superior grade bronze’ which imbues the Delma Shell Star Bronze with a delightful and distinctive hue. While many bronze watches evince a slightly yellow tone, this Delma exhibits a becoming reddish shade.
Close examination of the press samples during my visit to Lengnau revealed early signs of oxidation. Furthermore, I was informed by my host that the case will assume a verdant-like colour in a comparatively short time. Should the wearer wish to take away some of this patination, a suitable solution can be used to remove some of the verdigris, albeit not all.
Measuring 44mm in diameter, the Delma Shell Star Bronze makes a bold statement. Clearly those of slight build may wish to consider one of Delma’s more diminutive options, however, I appreciated the scale of this imposing diver’s watch.
Divers’ watches are seldom used in anger, destined for a life on dry land. However, they offer a useful degree of water resistance, peerless readability and impressive robustness. The Delma Shell Star Bronze delivers all of these qualities in spades. The highly polished screw-down crown nuzzles within a semi-circular protector and looks capable of post-apocalyptic survival.
Should intrepid types wish to explore the Shell Star’s subaquatic potential, then they will not be left wanting. The watch is equipped with a helium escape valve, unidirectional rotating bezel and an impressive water resistance of 500 metres.
A potential problem with bronze is that it has a high nickel content which can provoke an allergic reaction in some individuals. Delma has shrewdly equipped this watch with a stainless steel case back mitigating the probability of any adverse reaction. Furthermore, Delma has also given consideration to the ergonomics of the case. The arcing profile of the exhibition case back hugs the wrist, heightening wearer comfort.
The Delma Shell Star Bronze is supplied on a distressed leather colour-coordinated strap with optimally-hued stitching. In the case of the blue and green dial options, prospective purchasers are indulged with additional choices.
Delma has endowed this watch with the venerable ETA 2824 automatic movement. This calibre is renowned for its reliability and befits a watch at this price point. The Swiss firm has personalised the movement with the addition of a brass-coloured oscillating weight.
There is a distinct absence of finishing, however, considering the modest asking price of the watch, this comes as no surprise.
The movement has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and features 25 jewels. The power reserve is 38 hours.
Delma was founded in 1924 in Lengnau, a German-speaking region of Switzerland. From the outset, the brand focussed upon the design and manufacture of sports watches. Later, in 1969, the family firm produced its first diver’s watch. Over subsequent years, the brand has devoted much of its resources into creating impressive divers’ watches at comparatively affordable prices.
The Delma Shell Star Bronze perpetuates the Maison’s reputation for delivering virtue and value in equal measure. This watch brims with practicality, courtesy of its highly legible dial, robust construction and convenient self-winding movement. Furthermore, Delma has democratised a type of case material which has been hitherto beyond the grasp of many horophiles.
At this juncture, I cannot think of another bronze watch of comparable quality for less. More pertinently, this Delma model exudes quality and shows few signs of penny-pinching. If you are looking for a bronze watch, infused with an array of attributes and you don’t want to spend in excess of £2000, then you could do a lot worse than affix this watch to your wrist and luxuriate in the warm glow of securing a good buy.
- Model: Delma Shell Star Bronze
- Case: CUSN6 superior grade bronze; diameter 44mm; height 13.8mm; water resistance 50ATM (500 metres) sapphire crystal to front and rear
- Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; date
- Movement: ETA 2824-2; automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve 38 hours.
- Strap: Genuine leather strap with prominent stitching paired with bronze pin buckle
- Price: £1,290 (RRP as at 31.10.2019)
- Limited Edition: 500 pieces