Delma’s Cayman dive watches were introduced in 2019 as a reflection of the brand’s 1970s skin divers. They are stylish and more compact than professional counterparts, although slightly larger than a typical skin diver at 42mm (traditional skin divers are less than 40mm in diameter). The collection finds a good balance between functional and fun wrist companions, yet, with an impressive depth rating, the watches moonlight as saturated divers. The field-focused Cayman Bronze introduced a bronze case and some dial colors a few months ago, bringing a warm vibe and popular trend to Delma’s timeless collection.
Bronze is better
It would be great if we could all afford solid gold watches. The warmth and prestige of the gold really elevates the character of the watch, unless it’s Royal Oak (but I digress). Bronze is a worthy alternative, however, offering comparable warmth and a very different vibe than steel. Unlike gold, it forms a patina over time, which adds more character and serves as a reminder that it doesn’t have to be baby. After all, bronze field and dive watches have a strong aesthetic that only improves with age (and use). The Cayman Bronze range is unique, field-focused and ready for outdoor action, but capable of exploring the deep sea. This is a perfect combination for a bronze case.
Bronze is an alloy of copper (88%) and tin (12%), but there are plenty of varieties that add aluminum, nickel, zinc and more. The metal is antimagnetic and strong, and particularly resistant to corrosion in salt water. It was a standard metal for diving helmets of the day, along with copper and brass, but a relatively new material for watch cases. It started in the 1980s with a major example, Gefika, from Gerald Genta in 1988. Bronze was used to reduce outdoor reflections. The ChronoSwiss regulator was also released that year with a bronze option. Panerai achieved bronze a few years earlier in 1985 with four bronze models from a series of eight (the other four being titanium). These are one of the earliest bronze watch cases from a major brand. The bronze trend didn’t really take off until 2011, however, with the Panerai Luminaire Submersible 1950 (ref. PAM382) and later models. As a submersible specialist with a cult following, Panerai is largely responsible for popularizing bronze watches.
A golden cayman
It is common today for popular watch collections to include bronze options. Look no further than Hamilton’s Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze, Oris Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date, or Tudor’s Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze. It’s usually aesthetically interesting, but in Delma’s case, it serves a dual purpose. As mentioned, the bronze salt is very resistant to water and the Cayman can go down to 500 meters. Its bronze finish looks very cool, and as a field-focused watch, most of its wearers are landside. The case isn’t exactly compact at 42mm in diameter and 13.3mm high, but this particular model isn’t a skin diver, so I’ll let it slide. It wears well on the wrist and the size is ideal for field and underwater work. The bronze used is CUSN6, which contains less tin than standard bronze (6% tin vs 12%) and is ideal for highly corrosive environments. Of course, stainless steel models are fine in seawater, but are they cold? I don’t think so (your mileage may vary).
Bronze really complements the Cayman aesthetic. The surface will oxidize and patina over time, so no two watches will look exactly alike. This gives it a unique character that you can’t get with gold or stainless steel. The unidirectional rotating bezel features a 60-minute diver’s scale that is fully coated with Super-LumiNova C3. It looks great at night, but doesn’t contrast with bronze. Markings are the same as the dive-focused models, so underwater enthusiasts won’t get in the way. Despite the 500-meter water resistance rating, the steel exhibition case is back, so you won’t lose that extra horological interest. The main crystal is a retro domed AR sapphire and, as expected, the bronze crown and caseback screw down.
A new format
The entire Cayman collection features multiple dial colors, including black, blue and silver, but until the new Bronze series, the Field watches only had black dials. They have a matte black finish, while the new Delma Cayman bronze dials have a sand texture finish. As a warm bronze, the texture resists reflections and looks cool to boot. In addition to black, there are now blue, green and brown color options, and hybrid Cordura rubber straps with bronze pin buckles come in matching colors. They also have quick-release levers if you want to change one. In my humble opinion, all belts should have this.
Except for the new colors and texture, the dials remain unchanged and feature oversized Arabic numerals at 12, 6 and 9 o’clock. The framed date window sits at 3 o’clock and is black on the black dial, but white on the other three. Numerals and indexes feature Super-LumiNova C3 along with hour, minute and seconds hands. The requisite 24-hour scale is printed in red inside the main indices, helping to distinguish these from their diver counterparts. I like that it’s more universal than dedicated divers without sacrificing water resistance.
A reliable engine
A Sellita SW200 maintains a performance that is refined, reliable and accurate. Few comparable watches are switching to in-house automatics, such as the Oris Divers Sixty-Five 12H Caliber 400, but the Sellita helps keep the price affordable. It replaces ETA’s 2824 that powered the original Cayman in 2019. It has 26 jewels, clocks at 28,800vph (4Hz) and has a 38-hour power reserve that won’t set the world on fire, but is more than enough. It’s simple with central hours, minutes, hacking seconds and date. There is a custom gold rotor, but it is not decorated. It has a frivolous vibe in my opinion and no Côtes de Geneve or Perlage in sight.
I’m a big fan of skin divers and even those who break the rules a bit (size, usually). The latter is what we have here with a narrow bezel and slick design, but a substantial 42mm diameter. Visually it compares well to the aforementioned Oris Divers Sixty-Five, which comes with a 40mm option. That series only has a 100-meter water resistance rating, so I’ll live with the 2mm size increase. Textured dials make a big difference, giving a more sporty and rugged look, though the bronze case is the star of the show. The patina is skin deep, not affecting the underlying metal, so you’re getting some personalization. That might turn some off, but I really appreciate it. The new dial colors are also great, adding style to traditionally serious tool watches. They’re also not too bright or in-your-face, so nothing gets too cartoonish, per say. If you’re looking for a very capable Swiss skin diver-ish piece that won’t break the bank, you can’t do better than this.
Delma Cayman Bronze Retail CHF 1,390, EUR 1,490 Or USD 1,650, which doubles as a field watch is well-priced for the avid diver, not to mention the upgraded bronze suit. Each piece is limited to 999 pieces. For more information and to purchase, please visit Delmas Website.