Whilst Aquatico is mainly known for their dive watches (hence the name), I actually believe that their strongest watches are their pilot/field watches, such as this Bronze Blue Angel. Let’s take a look at it!
Aquatico – the Brand
I’ve previously covered Aquatico as a brand in my previous review of the Aquatico Pilot One, now discontinued. For those interested in more details of the brand, the article can be read here.
Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel – Build Quality
As with most of Aquatico’s watches, the Bronze Blue Angel packs a lot of specifications for its price.
Firstly, the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel utilises a flat sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. Furthermore, there’s also an internal AR coating on the underside of the sapphire crystal to prevent the bulk of nasty reflections! Elsewhere, the WR rating for the Bronze Blue Angel is interestingly stated at 300M, which means that you can actually wear the watch out to the pool/sea without any issues. Given that the Bronze Blue Angel is marketed as a pilot’s watch, the high WR rating is rather uncommon, though not unwelcomed.
The Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel is powered by the Seiko NH37 automatic movement. The NH37 movement is near identical to the ubiquitous NH35 movement, except for the inclusion of a 24 hour indicator. Some specifications: the movement beats at 21600 vibrations per hour, has 42 hours of power reserve, contains 24 jewels, and is hacking. It’s accurate, reliable, easy to service, and most importantly, an incredibly affordable movement.
As hinted by the name of the watch, the case of the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel is forged out of bronze. Bronze on pilot’s watches are pretty common, with Swiss luxury brands such as IWC and Zenith both offering their own variant (albeit at much higher price points). Personally, I enjoy the natural patina that bronze develops with age, and the unique character that it brings. As the patination of bronze depends on a variety of factors (exposure to air, water, etc), no two bronze watch patina in the exact same way. Starting as a shiny, rose-gold case, the watch will eventually patina into a rustic brown. I love the transformative effect of bronze, and personally I find a bronze case much more interesting than plain old stainless steel. Given the military/vintage vibe of the Bronze Blue Angel, I think a bronze case suits the watch very well.
The strap of the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel is handmade, fashioned out of crazy horse leather, and is actually pretty good! In case you’re wondering, the strap is not made of actual horse leather – it was named as such because the same form of leather is traditionally used to make horse saddles. Crazy horse leather is produced by applying a specific kind of wax to a full grain calf leather piece that has been buffed and smoothed out. Over time, the color and texture of the strap will alter, giving the piece an unique, vintage look. I love the fact that the leather strap will patina alongside the bronze case, as well as the bronze buckle. It’s definitely one of the best straps I’ve encountered in a ~S$300 watch.
As the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel is billed as a pilot’s watch, I had high expectations for the lume. For the most part, I was not disappointed! The C3 Superluminova of the watch shines brightly in the dark, and lasts for a decent amount of time. I particularly liked that Aquatico even lumed the 24 hour hand, as well as the seconds hand.
Overall, the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel is a rock solid pilot’s watch for its price. It has sapphire crystal (with AR coating), a Seiko workhorse NH37 movement with a 24 hour sub-dial, a nice crazy horse leather strap, C3 lume, and of course a lovely bronze case that will age beautifully with time. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!
Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel – Design
I usually find fliegers from microbrands boring – they usually inevitably end up looking like IWC homages. However, I think that Aquatico has managed to avoid that pitfall!
The dial of the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel is relatively simple, but yet impressively detailed. Firstly, the black dial is of a lovely sandblasted texture. Under the sunlight, the dial really pops beautifully. Secondly, the indices are applied, creating a semblance of depth on the dial. The main star however – which allows the Bronze Blue Angel to escape the IWC homage trap – is the 24 hour sub-dial at 10 o’clock. The presence of the 24 hour sub-dial makes the dial asymmetrical, and differentiates the Bronze Blue Angel from the plethora of affordable fliegers (Tisell, Laco, Stowa, etc) out in the market today. In addition, I think the flame tipped seconds hand is a nice touch, and adds a pop of colour to the otherwise monochrome dial. However, I wish that Aquatico opted for a black date wheel instead – it would have looked much sleeker.
Aside from the iconic flieger dial design, another big draw of the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel is undoubtedly its bronze case. I know this is controversial, but I rather like the faux patina indices here, as they complement the bronze case really nicely. As aforementioned, the bronze case will patina over time as well, giving the watch a lovely aged look and a nice vintage WW2 vibe. There’s a reason why the bronze IWC pilot watches are almost always the most popular variant – bronze and fliegers are just a match made in heaven.
The case of the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel is simply finished, with the case being mostly satin brushed. I’m fine with that, given the low price point of the watch as well as its military provenance. We also get an oversized onion crown, which is a nice touch that pays homage to the pilot watches of old.
The caseback of the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel is as simple as they come. There are some relevant specification inscribed, including the fact that each variant of the Bronze Blue Angel is limited to just 300 pieces. I like that each watch is engraved with a unique serial number – none of that “1 of 50” nonsense that one sees on other “limited edition” microbrand watches thrice, even quadruple the price of this Bronze Blue Angel! There’s also a simplistic (or minimalist, depending on your view) artwork of fighter planes, further cementing the fact that the Bronze Blue Angel is indeed, a pilot watch. The artwork is nothing impressive, but again given the low price point of the watch it’s an aspect that can be forgiven.
Pilot watches are traditionally on the larger side (for increased legibility while flying) and the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel is no exception at 43mm. However, I would say that it is still acceptable, and wears well on my 7 inch wrist. I’m fine with the 43mm diameter – it’s still much smaller than say, the 48mm Big Pilot’s Watch from IWC. In addition, the Bronze Blue Angel isn’t that bulky either at 12.5mm thick. Overall, I would say that the watch is quite wearable, especially by pilot watch standards!
All in all, I think the best part of the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel is that it does not come off as a mere IWC pilot watch homage. Despite the low price, the dial is actually quite nicely finished, and I love the asymmetrical positioning of the 24 hour sub-dial. The bronze case is of course lovely as well, especially once patina develops. I’m not a fan of the white date wheel and the overly simplistic caseback artwork, but those are small niggles considering the affordability of the watch – it got a lot of things right, in my opinion!
Shootout – Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel vs San Martin Bronze Big Pilot
If you’re on the hunt for an affordable bronze pilot watch, the main alternative at this price range would be the San Martin Bronze Big Pilot.
In terms of specifications, the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel edges out the San Martin Bronze Big Pilot. Both watches utilises sapphire crystal (with AR coating), bronze cases, and C3 superluminova. However, the Bronze Blue Angel uses a workhorse automatic Seiko NH37 movement, whilst the Bronze Big Pilot is powered by a “Chinese 6498” handwound movement. That’s the same movement one often finds in sub $100 USD Parnis watches! In terms of reliability and accuracy, the Seiko NH37 movement definitely trumps the “Chinese 6498” movement.
From an aesthetics perspective, I have to go with the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel as well. The Bronze Blue Angel possess more character, with neat touches such as its asymmetrical placing of the 24 hour sub-dial, flame tipped seconds hand, and sandblasted dial. In contrast, the Bronze Big Pilot’s dial come across as sterile, and looks like something out of a Parnis catalog! I appreciated the applied indices of the Aquatico watch too, as compared to the printed numerals of the San Martin watch.
Where the San Martin watch wins is in its price – it’s $40 USD cheaper than the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel. However, unless you’re on a tight S$300 budget, I think it’s worth it to fork out a bit more for the Bronze Blue Angel. For ~S$54, you get a much more reliable movement, as well as a more detailed dial. For these reasons, the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel triumphs over the San Martin Bronze Big Pilot for me.
Conclusion – so the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel “shiok” or not?
For the price, I think the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel has a lot going for it. Its specifications punches above its price tag – it boasts sapphire crystal (with AR coating), Seiko NH37 automatic movement, C3 superluminova lume, bronze case, and a pretty decent strap to boot! The design is thoughtful as well, and the watch avoids the pitfall of looking like a mere homage to the IWC Bronze Pilot’s Watch. For those looking for an affordable bronze pilot watch, the Aquatico Bronze Blue Angel is great bang for buck.
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will grant you $20 USD off all Aquatico watches! After the discount, the Bronze Blue Angel can be had for just $259 USD/ ~S$353, which makes it a great value proposition. I’ve gotta say – this is probably the best in the entire Aquatico lineup! Really impressed.
View Aquatico’s full range of offerings here.
TMI SEIKO NH37
24 Hours Display
Marin Grade Bronze CuSn8 Satined
Diameter 43 mm
Lug to Lug 51.5mm
Height 12.50 mm
Weight 75 g
Lug width 22 mm
High Quality Sapphire Crystal With AR Coated
Back Stainless steel 316 L screwed
Waterproof to 300m
DIAL & HAND:
Handsets applied Superluminova C3
BRACELET & BUCKLE:
Handmade crazy horse leather strap with Bronze CuSn8 buckle
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!