Today we are gonna look at a bronze watch! I wanted to do this for a very long time, about a year ago I caught the Bronze watch bug and since then I wanted to get one in for a review. But I waited for a special watch to get the first review and about 2 months ago I found the perfect watch that is a perfect fit for the first bronze watch review on this blog. The company is called Fonderia Navale and the model they sent me is their new watch called Veneto which was released on August 6 this year. The Fonderia Navale was founded by the same folks who founded Pontvs. Fonderia Navale gained as much success as the Pontvs. Fonderia Navale is pretty known watch brand in the watch community, especially with the Gondar. But the Veneto caught my eye because it was their smallest watch at only 42mm and it is pretty hard to find a bronze watch in that size or below. For example, the Gondar is 44mm. The Veneto is named after Vittorio Veneto, which was the second member of the Littorio-class battleships that served in the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) during World War II. The Veneto comes in two dial colours: blue (which I have) and green. They also are limited to only 150 pieces so that is another special thing for this watch.
1. Introduce yourself
Fernando Mansilla, 32 years old, Metallurgical Engineer working in the largest US copper mine ( Morenci, AZ). I’m the co-owner of Pontvs and Fonderia Navale watch brands. Born in Lima Peru living in the states for the last 12 years.
2. What started your watch passion?
Started with an old Swiss watch given to my dad from my grandmother during her Europe travel, I got in love with the watch. After college I started working and getting better economic stability I started purchasing watches and increasing my knowledge. Love especially the automatic watches from Japan and Swiss. Both are as good. Each one has their plus.
3. What makes a good wristwatch for you?
Practical of course. Functional, pretty, sturdy, great looks and intense lume!
4. I see that all the watches Pontvs and Fonderia Navale makes are bronze. So why bronze?
I Guess working for some many years in the copper industry I have some expertise in the subject. Bronze and brass tend to form a patina that depends on the environment that contacted on, so it’s a living and constantly changing material due to the wear and exposure to the elements. The oxidation of copper changes with colour as copper loses its electrons and associates in the different species available in the environment. For example, the blue colour oxidation is due to some induced ammonia.
5. How much watches do you have in your personal collection?
Many watches I would say (30 ish), my favourites are my latest Pontvs Hydra and FN Veneto. I have a Tudor black bay, Panerai, Ennebi fondale, and many microbrands with bronze and brass watches.
6. Who is your ideal customer?
The ideal customer that appreciate that each piece took a lot of time for design and extensive teamwork. Also is a very small edition, so it’s a rare item.
7. Tell about what you like to do outside of watches. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I do like to go hiking in the beautiful areas here in Arizona, I like to travel a lot in my truck, basically all around the American south-west includes Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
8. How do you see your watch brand in the future?
I see my brand not only as a reliable watch that people enjoy, but also I would like them to be showcased in more retail stores and become more popular as a brand.
9. Are there any other new watches coming out this year?
Yes, are about to release Pontvs Hydra, a short re-edition of our popular Nessi watch, and Fonderia Navale Stella, which is one of most beautiful and complex design yet to do.
10. What was the hardest part of creating a microbrand watch company?
To start, I remember when we started the sales were so low, we were discouraged after the first month, the initial interest of many people of facebook groups and other social media such Instagram did not translate into sales so it took a long time for people to get to know us.
11. Any suggestions to someone who wants to make their own microbrand watch?
Well most of the micro brands start as a homage, I was tempted to do a homage brand but deep inside me I really wanted to make something that was truly my own design, the main issue I encountered is that many people that start their own brand with a unique design they fail. So, I was afraid from the start, I would say do your own design. Ensure that quality of your product is great, if you’re not happy with your quality then look for alternatives to improve it, you are your best critic, go there and compare yourself with other major brands and identify there what can you do better.
We ensure our customers are happy and we provide the best service we can. I had a family member that used to work in the Nordstrom for years and I got taught by him how well is the service from that company, I always said if I ever do a company like that I would love to have that kind of customer service. I know that a happy customer always returns for more.
The day when the Veneto arrived was an exciting day, as I waited for a month for it to be delivered, you probably saw the unboxing on my Instagram story. So the Veneto comes in this very nice and well finished wooden box, it really gives that Marine, kind of vintage vibe. The box itself was in a nice bag with Fonderia Navale logo stamped on it. You open up the lid of the box and you are greeted with some paperwork like the warranty and instructions which were printed on a very nice paper by the way. Inside the box, you, of course, will also find the watch, a zulu/nato strap with bronze buckle and keepers, 2 spare bars for the strap attachment and spring bar for the buckle that’s on the leather strap. First impressions were just wow! This was the first time I saw a bronze watch in flesh and the material is very interesting. I immediately noticed the patina that was already forming on the case and the buckle. The strap was another thing that I noticed right away as the quality of it and buttery smoothness of the leather is amazing for the watch price!
So the case of the Veneto is made from tin phosphor bronze. Fonderia Navale calls it the Tin Phosphor Bronze which is an alloy of copper (90.5%Cu), tin and phosphorus. The tin increases the corrosion resistance and strength of the alloy. The phosphorus increases the wear resistance and stiffness of the alloy. These alloys are notable for their toughness, strength, low coefficient of friction, and fine grain. The case has a very nice machine work, without a doubt the best at this price range. All the lines are sharp and the surface is very well and finely brushed. The diameter of the case is 42mm, the thickness of 14,4mm and from lug to lug it measures at 49,8mm. The case shape is round with a very nice and bold design with those crown guards and that large slanted bezel line. Very bold and masculine watch I got to say. The screw down crown is located at 3 o’clock position and is also made from the same tin phosphor bronze as the case. The crown is nicely signed with initials of the brand “FN“. Crown has a very nice grip and is easy to grab and manipulate. The solid case back is made from 316L stainless steel, that is due to the fact that Bronze can cause some skin problems for some + when it develops patina it can leave some green marks on your wrist, but with stainless steel back it can’t happen. The case back is very well engraved with the Fonderia Navale logo, some specifications and model name. The screw type bars hold the strap can be accessed from the side of the lugs and can be very easily unscrewed. The watch is rated at 200m of water resistance so slap on the zulu strap that they gave you and go to sea for a swim or even a dive. And that’s what I did in the first day, just hours after I received it. On top of the case sits a very nice AR coated, a single domed sapphire crystal which is 3.5mm thick and really gives the dial a very nice depth!
The dial is in a dark blue colour. It is a grained Enamel dial. The dark blue colour actually in the sun looks like purple and when you are inside the dial looks like it is black, very interesting effect! Fonderia Navale Veneto has a stylish look but is still completely utilitarian as it should be. It’s not all posh and its sole purpose is to show time to the wearer. Bold gold colour hands and white hour markers are very legible in both in the light and in the darkness. The hands and the markers are applied with Swiss Super Luminova C3 lume which is really good in the dark. It lasts for about 5-6 hours. At 12 we have a nice, not bug at all Fonderia Navale logo which I think is a very good looking logo. At 6 we have small writings like “Veneto, 200 metri, automatico”.
The movement that is powering the Veneto is a trusty old Seiko NH-35 which right now is probably one of the best Japan made movements to use in a microbrand dive watch. It is an automatic 24 jewel movement with 41-hour power reserve and beating away with 21,600 BPH. As you all know this is my go-to movement when it comes to affordable time only movement from Japan, the Miyotas to me are too noisy and doesn’t keep the accuracy so good as this one does. Also, another plus is the hacking seconds. The accuracy is quite good, about +6 to +8 seconds a day, which is great.
The strap or I should straps that came with the watch are really good. Let’s start with the leather one. It is a dark brown leather strap. The strap has a straight cut, it is 22m wide and 3,5mm thick. The leather is really soft to touch, very buttery feel. The stitching is done all around the strap and it is done quite good. The strap is very supple and it fit on my wrist right away without any break in period. I really was surprised by the leather strap as it is almost too good to be true, especially at this price point. It is something that you order from a premium strap maker to whom you pay 200$ for the strap, but this strap comes on a watch that costs only 289.90$ which is a crazy good deal! Also, the tang-style buckle is very cool, it has it’s own design and you really can see that marine theme in there too. The underside of the buckle has a polished finishing, but the top has a satin brushed finish. The buckle is made from tin bronze.
The other strap was a blue zulu /nato style strap with bronze keepers and buckle. The strap is very long and will fit every wrist. The keepers and buckle are very bold and finished in a matte finish. The nylon that they used is rough, but it doesn’t make your wrist feel uncomfortable.
Overall I really like this watch, it was an interesting experience in testing this watch and the bronze material. In the first two days of swimming in the Sea and sunbathing, I already had some patina developing. After a couple of weeks, I will post an article on Bronze Patina telling all about it and how to develop it faster and make it look like it was sitting down the sea for decades. So, is the watch any good? Hell yeah! It is probably the best deal right now for a bronze watch. For only 289.90$ you get a tin phosphor bronze case which is special, a 42mm size that is a decent fit for almost every wrist, automatic Japan-made movement, sapphire crystal, great straps and cool packaging! That is a lot for the price, oh and did I mentioned that it is only limited to 150 watches? So be quick and grab one for yourself!
Limited to 150 Pieces
Case diameter: 42 mm excluding the crown – lug to lug 50 mm
Movement: Seiko NH35 automatic
Case material: Tin Phosphor Bronze for heavy-duty applications
Crown: Tin Phosphor Bronze screw down crown 9 mm
Crystal: AR Sapphire single Domed 3.5mm thick
Dial: 32mm diameter grained Enamel with printed Swiss Super Luminova C3 lume .
Water-resistance: 200 meters / 660 feet / 20 ATM
Case back: Stainless Steel
Strap: 22mm brown leather 3.5 mm thick. Screw lug bars.
Buckle: Tin Bronze Buckle
Shock resistance: Shock-absorber device for balance staff