To become an elite air force pilot there are rigorous standards that you must attain in your flying and combat capabilities, you have to become a precision tool. And when it comes to precision tools, Oris’ aviation watches are great, while still being accessible – so the recent announcement of the brand’s partnership with the Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP), one of NATO’s pilot training schools, makes total sense. To celebrate the partnership Oris is releasing a TLP Limited Edition version of the Big Crown ProPilot.
Of the Big Crown range, it’s the ProPilot line that is most aimed at professional pilots, putting emphasis on the combination of function and style – altimeters, GMT timers, power reserve indicators, you can find everything a pilot could need on the various ProPilot models. The new limited edition version is based on one of the most restrained and simple designs, the Day Date.
The face of the new version is very clean, a simple olive-green dial that matches the flight overalls of TLP pilots, white numerals, white hour and minute hands and a black seconds hand with a red tip. Additionally there is a day/date function at 3 o’clock, which is unobtrusive thanks to its light on dark colouring.
Measuring 44mm in diameter, the case is on the large side but pilot’s watches do tend to run bigger for improved legibility so that’s not necessarily a problem. Although it is in the region where some of us mere mortal, who aren’t elite pilots, might struggle to pull it off comfortably. The case itself is stainless steel with an anti-glare PVD coating in gun-metal grey.
Rounding out the aesthetics of the watch are the bezel and the inscriptions on the dial. The bezel is the same as all the other ProPilots but I quite like it, a series of tight angled lines that seem to twist around the edge of the watch giving the impression of rope, very tactile and satisfying. The text on the dial is in a shade of beige, a colour taken from TLP’s eagle logo, which is a nice touch.
The overall feel of this timepiece is not dissimilar to that of a field watch meant for the skies, it has a utilitarian vibe without any ostentation or glamour. And that makes total sense, the TLP is a military training organisation operating out of Spain that prepares NATO coalition pilots for tactical air operations worldwide.
In some regards this is the NATO equivalent of the Top Gun range from IWC. Admittedly there is a large difference in price tag but with IWC you get what you pay for, such as those high-end materials like ceramic and ceratanium, as well as having more versatile options like the chronograph.
There is actually a reference to military-aviation history included in the TLP Limited Edition: the strap, which is made of Ventile®. The material is a high-performance textile developed during World War Two for RAF pilots, due to its durability it saved the lives of many who found themselves forced to bail during operations. In addition to the strap, the watch also comes with a Ventile® travel pouch and card holder.
In terms of technical specs, it’s pretty standard Oris fare: the Number Oris 752 movement with 38-hour power reserve. If anything it’s a little underwhelming considering that most power reserves these days tickle the 42-hour area, making it one of the piece’s biggest weaknesses, especially if you compare it to the equivalent from IWC which boasts a 72-hour power reserve. It makes me wonder why they didn’t opt for the Calibre 300, their new cutting edge movement, the extra cost would surely be worth it.
As to availability, this watch is limited to 750 pieces at CHF 2,200 (approx. £1,700) for civilians like you and me. However, pilots graduating from the TLP will be given the opportunity to pick up a bespoke version of the watch inscribed with their name, programme year and limited edition number on the caseback. Frankly, I couldn’t think of a better graduation present.
Price & Specs:
Model: Oris Big Crown ProPilot TLP Limited Edition
Case/Dial: 44mm diameter, stainless steel, multi-piece stainless steel, PVD-coated case in gun-metal grey with green dial with applied beige numerals and indices
Water Resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: In-house calibre Oris 752, automatic, 26 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power Reserve: 38h
Functions: Centre hands for hours, minutes, seconds, date and day windows, instantaneous date and day, date and day corrector, fine timing device and stop-second
Strap: Green Ventile® fabric with stainless steel gunmetal grey PVD-coated lift folding clasp
Price/Availability: CHF 2,200, limited to 750 pieces
More details at Oris.