Independent watchmakers are fantastic. They might not be able to produce the high volumes of Swatch, nor do they have the endless pockets of the Richemont Group but what they often lack in other areas they more than make up for in creativity, brand identity and clarity. Oris is no exception. Having created some gorgeous pilot’s and diving watches in its 115-year history, it has cultivated a loyal and dedicated fan base through the excellence of its tool watches.
But as I previously mentioned, independent watchmakers have the freedom to be creative and move in different directions – which is exactly what Oris has done with its latest, futuristic release, the Big Crown ProPilot x Calibre 115, a skeletonised look into the future of the brand.
It came as a shock to many who are more used to the traditional models the brand has produced of late like the Pointer Date Heritage line they released this year, or the endlessly tough divers collections. So if the tool watches were proving so popular, why suddenly go off course and make a fully skeletonised titanium watch that doesn’t quite fulfil the requirements for a cockpit or a deep dive?
In short, I think the best way to answer that is because they can. But, if you look into the history of the brand you realise that this new watch and new calibre make perfect sense. After all, the brand has made 270 in-house calibres in its time with the notable 110, celebrating the brand’s 110th anniversary, that came with a stonking ten-day power reserve and a non-linear power reserve indicator.
Now, five years later, Oris has flung open the doors, windows and everything else for the latest in-house calibre, the 115. It has taken two years to design this movement specifically for this iteration of the Big Crown ProPilot with a skeletonised dial that gives you a full view of the new motor running this watch.
To take the clarity to the next level, Oris has done away with any possible distractions from fancy finishing techniques on the bridges to its classic big Arabic numerals on the dial. This is an Oris, but stripped back to the bare essentials.
When I got my hands on the model recently, the first thing that struck me was the unique feature about this specific skeleton dial that you really don’t see often enough: the mainspring is completely uncovered. While they still have the classic ten-day power reserve indicator at three o’clock, now you can see just how that translates into torsion on the spring. So you can wind the crown and see the spring gather around the pinion, which is rather satisfying and almost meditative. But it’s still nice to have the indicator on there as well for accuracy.
The next thing was just how light it is. Even though 99 per cent of the dial is missing, it’s still a solid 44mm across. But thanks to the entire case, bezel and bracelet being made out of hypoallergenic titanium – which have all been given a sandblasted matt finish – it’s incredibly lightweight.
Pair that finish with the number of angles and facets on the case and bracelet and this watch looks decidedly modern and sporty, a far cry from the classic pilot’s model we’ve all come to expect. There is something a bit Bulgari-esque about this new look from Oris and I’ve got to admit, I’m a massive fan.
The thing is, this isn’t a pilot’s watch. The newly instated X in the title is a shiny new signifier that it is instead aviation inspired. That means it’s more for those that like aircraft rather than actually fly them. Given I’ve yet to get my pilot’s license, I’m perfectly fine with that.
It takes a lot for a brand to go from making fauxpatina- covered vintage models to something that looks straight-up space age, all without losing the brand identity through the continuation of a few key design tenets. The jet engine blade-like outer and inner bezel on this model is a continuation of what we’ve seen before from the Big Crown ProPilot range and adds some comforting continuity to the model. Then of course, there’s the eponymous big crown that has been a part of the Oris range since 1938.
If you came here hoping for a new Oris that stayed within what we’ve come to know of the brand then I feel sorely disappointed for you. This model breaks the moulds of pretty much everything that has come before it. Now try and find me a watch brand who can make such a change feel as smooth as a take off in a new Gulfstream.
Price & Specs:
Model Name: Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115
Ref: 115 7759 7153 7 22 01 TLC
Case/Dial: 44mm diameter, titanium, skeletonised dial with hands and indices filled with Super-LumiNova
Water Resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Oris Calibre 115, in-house
Functions: Hours and minutes, small seconds between 7 and 8 o’clock, non-linear power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock, fine timing and stop-second devices
Frequency: 21,600 (3 Hz)
Power Reserve: 240h
Strap: Multi-piece titanium bracelet with “lift” clasp
Price: £5,950 (bracelet), £5,600 (strap)
More details at oris.ch