Let’s just get this out of the way. I’m a sucker for a skin diver. But a vintage-styled bronze skin diver…well, you have me at hello. When Delma’s Head of Marketing reached out, I had to couch my excitement in a thin veil of professional courtesy. My only slip was writing “XOX” in the signature line of my response.
Jokes aside, a brand would have to work pretty hard to mess up a skin diver for me, and Delma was already building off of their successful line of stainless steel Caymans launched back in 2019, and refreshed only last year with the Cayman Field Series.
The Cayman line isn’t just vintage inspired. It’s a reissue of sorts for the brand, who began producing skin divers in the 1970s. In fact, the Cayman Field, and this latest Bronze release, are an even closer match, aesthetically, to those original skin divers.
The Cayman Automatic—and the Worldtimer—while using a similar case silhouette, employ very different dials. The Field, and now the Bronze, breath new life into what I would consider a striking 70s inventive. The blend of tropicalized dive markers and Arabics on the outer ring, coupled with a subtly-coloured 24-hour scale on the inner dial deliver a subdued, playful quality that I find quite charming. Not to mention practical.
The stark juxtaposition of the faded verdigris outer index against the black dial (featured here) is immediately legible, even in bright light. And a healthy dose of C3 Super-LumiNova has you covered after dark. The modified pencil handset, and the arrow-tipped seconds, are also lumed. The primarily painted dial has a lovely sand-textured quality that adds interest, as well.
Unlike some, I am fan of the date window at three. In some respect, skin divers in particular call out for them. The date window on the Cayman Bronze is tastefully integrated with a thin red border to match the inner index, and…the date wheel is black, allowing it to disappear into the overall design of the dial. It should be noted that this is not the case with the other three colourways. All of this detail can be admired through the gently domed sapphire crystal, which has been treated with multiple layers of AR undercoating.
But let’s talk about the bronze. The Cayman has a lot of it. The CUSN6 case, with its matching bezel and crown, will slowly adapt to its wearer and his/her surroundings. Over the course of time, it will develop a patina that will be both individual and unique. It will not resist scratches like stainless steel; however, it has almost no magnetic qualities at all. It’s warm and it’s different. If you’re a dive watch collector, you’ve got to have at least one in the boathouse.
The Cayman case is large by skin diver standards, but it’s also certified to a whopping 50ATM (good enough for saturation diving). Nonetheless, at 42mm in diameter and 13.3mm in height, you might find it wears much more like a professional diver. The 120-click, uni-directional lumed bezel has a snappy action and absolutely zero backplay. Beneath the watch is a stainless steel, screwed down, exhibition caseback, so you can admire the customized gold-coloured rotor of its Sellita SW200, vibrating away at 28 800bpm.
In conjunction with the Sellita, I feel that I should also mention the signed, pillbox crown—which is gloriously oversized, by the way. It has one of the smoothest threadings I have yet to experience, which makes setting the date and time a dream. On the whole, the case is uniformly brushed, but for the caseback, the space between the lugs, and a slim chamfer on the outer edge of the lugs.
The strap of the Cayman Bronze is a bit of beast. It’s a hybrid Cordura blend that has a sailcloth-like texture on the outside and a vented rubber layer on the inside. It is thick, but supple enough, and really suits the toolish nature of the watch. The bronze robust buckle also instils confidence. I should add that with its 22mm lugs, the Cayman Bronze cries out for NATO, as well. I think a single pass parachute-style G10, or marine-nationale, would be killer.
48mm Lug to Lug
22mm Lug Width
Bronze Uni-directional Bezel
Screw Down Crown & Caseback
/w Exhibition Portal
500m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Domed Sapphire /w AR|
Textured Black Dial
Printed Indices and Numerals
|Movement||Swiss SW200 /w Customized Gold Rotor|
Date @ 3 O’clock
38-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Waterproof Hybrid Cordura Rubber Strap |
/w Bronze Hardware
Delma was founded in 1924 by the brothers Adolf and Albert Gilomen, in Lengnau, Switzerland. Originally the brand was called A. & A. Gilomen S.A. It wasn’t until 1966 that the company would take on its present-day name. The invention of the Periscope was Delma’s first water-resistant watch, but by 1975, the watchmaker was riding high on the success of the Shell Star and the Quattro, its two professional divers. They would later add the integrated bracelet of the Shark to their dive watch lineup.
Recently, Delma has made it a focus to revive their dive watch heritage with models like the Blue Shark III–a watch rated to 400ATM–and a modern version of the Shell Star, rated to 50ATM and sporting a helium release valve. In fact, the brand now have six different dive watch lines.
The Cayman Bronze, for its part, is a solid, retro-styled addition.
Mention the term skin diver and many (myself included) envision a svelte desk diver case. As mentioned above, the Cayman Bronze is a modern reinterpretation of the brand’s early skin divers. The aesthetic is vintage, but the dimensions are not. While 42mm is not an overly large watch, its modern, athletic sizing might come as a surprise to some.
Delma is not a household name like other Swiss manufacturers. But the Swiss quality in their watches is unmistakeable. The Cayman Bronze is an attractive timepiece. The finishing, from the brushing to the bezel action to the threads on the crown, is top drawer. While it may cut a vintage figure, the watch is modern construction through and through. Beyond the handsome design is a robust instrument with a noteworthy water resistance of 500m. It may not be your go to for the office, but its polyvalent dial and muscular build make it an adventure-worthy companion by land or by sea.
The Delma Cayman Bronze retails for $1650USD. For more information, please visit the brand website.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
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10 thoughts on “Off the Cuff: DELMA Cayman Bronze”
‘Highly legible’ picture is unique, intriguing and simply magical. Nice article.
Totally unknown to me, I love it😆.
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I took it diving last Wednesday. Beautiful, robust peice.
500m! I haven’t heard of the brand but the vintage vibe is there
Went diving with it recently…not 500m, lol, but it sure is robust.
Never experienced a bronze watch before… Love the custom rotor on this!
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This one is a great, robust design
Absolutely love the case design. The dial is a touch crowded for my liking. In saying that the dial texture is perfect against the bronze!
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Thanks for reading!
Not too shabby. I feel like the brand name is a little too large and takes away from the dial, and again there is the “automatic” on the dial as if we need to show everyone else…”hey guys, it’s not quartz!!!”
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