The Oris Big Crown ProPilot X

by Harin Gamage
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Oris – The revival of the brand

Oris has been, for the better part of the last two decades, what I like to call a “sleeper brand”. But now, here in 2019, taking as much as a break seems to be the last item on their agenda. 

With the dynamic launch of the Divers Sixty-Five series only a few years ago, which was then complimented by the Carl Brashear Diver and Diver Chronograph, the interest in the brand among both collectors and enthusiasts alike was re-invigorated. Amidst the pool of luxury brands who were at the time raising their prices and trying to justify the same to their clientele, Oris did quite the opposite, and needless to say, their underdog-like positioning was well rewarded. 

Following the notable success of the Divers Sixty-Five, the spark within the Company was ignited once again and Oris looked towards its roots to determine its future. The result of this was Oris’ first in-house caliber in over 3 decades, the caliber 110 marking 110 years since the brand’s inception. 

With success across the board, and almost a cult following beginning to develop, Oris is well on its way to becoming a household name. With its latest release, Oris is taking a bolder look at its future, with a bit more pizzazz this time around, and here in 2019 they’ve gifted the world with the Big Crown Pro Pilot X. 

The Movement

As Oris has done since the caliber 110, this being their 115th anniversary, the new caliber was naturally dubbed the Caliber 115, which when fully wound, delivers a reliable ten days of power thanks to its extended mainspring taking center-stage at the 12 o’clock position. The power reserve is displayed through the familiar non-linear power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock which was first seen in the Caliber 110 which provides a realistic illustration of how the timepiece expends its power. The ingeniously placed sub-seconds dial between 7 and 8 o’clock requires no additional gearing and adds visual interest to the already captivating dial at no cost to the movement’s efficiency.

The Design

The design language could not be further from your typical Oris and the brand has certainly taken a leap of faith. Being a skeletonized flagship release, the PPX strays quite far from not only their comfort zone, but that of many other manufacturers. What they’ve designed is a watch that is truly unlike any other from the elephant in the room, being the dial, followed by the finishing (or lack thereof), the integrated bracelet and the fighter jet inspired clasp.

In stark contrast to your typical skeletonized watch where the usual case is for an existing movement to be stripped away of any superfluous material to give the consumer a glimpse of the internal workings of the movement, Oris designed this movement from scratch to bare it all since the stages of the initial concept right up until the final product. It wasn’t an after-thought, but rather the foundation for this timepiece, and I can personally attest to the fact that even if you’re not a fan of skeletonized watches (I myself am not) this just might change your mind.

The Dial

Firstly, while accounting for the undoubtedly busy nature of the dial, it is deceivingly legible, as a pilot’s watch should be thanks to the muted aesthetics of the movement coupled with the large lumed hands and sharp indices. 

Secondly, while showcasing the intricate gears and that glorious mainspring, Oris doesn’t try too hard by completely “undressing” the dial and throwing everything in your face. It leaves something for the imagination, that is until you take a look at the case back where the rest of the movement is revealed. 

Lastly, thanks to the clever architecture of the movement, Oris has taken care of one my personal pet-peeves with skeletonised watches. As pedantic as it may seem, I absolutely appreciate the fact that every time you glance down at this watch, you’re not met with the sight of your wrist hair peering through the crystal and that’s a big plus for me.    

The lack of finishing and the heavily industrial theme of the movement may at first seem unattractive, but then again, I’d imagine that a “traditional” finishing method would only hinder the legibility of the timepiece distracting the wearer with a multitude of textures, patterns and facets. It would not only be increasingly difficult to read, but would also most certainly look out of place. Notwithstanding, if I was to be critical, some chamfering or beveling of some parts may have been a welcome touch to be admired through the double AR coated sapphire crystal.

The Bracelet

Beyond the dial and movement, the design of the bracelet is just as well thought out and has been integrated really well, providing a flush and uniform finish. The brushed surfaces gleam in the light as you perform a wrist roll while taking a sharp and angular take on the traditional 3-piece link which ends at the clasp housing a mechanism similar to that of an aircraft seatbelt. It’s just pure fun and well thought out.

The Case

Similar to the dial, the movement architecture and the bracelet, the case marrying it all together continues with the industrial theme and angular design elements. The bezel, as seen on previous Pro Pilot variants, is inspired by what appears to be an aircraft engine’s turbine blades and this extends to the design of the crown, aiding with grip when either winding the watch or adjusting the time. The lugs are sharp and pivot downwards at the ends to synchronise with the angle of the end links, adding to that integrated bracelet aesthetic. As if the dial wasn’t bold enough, the design of the case is destined to turned some heads.

 My only major criticism at this stage would be the size. Coming in at 44mm together with those well pronounced angular lugs, it’s not for the slender wrist. While the titanium case and bracelet make it extremely comfortable due to its light weight, there’s no denying that it has quite the footprint on the wrist.

The Round Up

The larger picture (pun intended), is that Oris has created a timepiece that is a faithful representation of what the brand stands for, which is to “Go Your Own Way”. They have created a watch, that is while being avant-garde by some standards, still fuss free and practical and considering what it is, though some may disagree, well priced in my opinion. I’d like to think that Oris produced this timepiece for themselves just as much as they did it for the end consumer. It’s trophy of sorts in the form of a showcase of what they are capable of creating and it can be yours for approximately AUD $11,000 and slightly more affordable for the version on the leather strap.

The Specs

  • Model Reference: 115 7759 7153 7 22 01 TLC
  • Case Diameter: 44mm 
  • Crystal: Sapphire Crystal
  • Movement: Manual wind Calibre 115
  • Case Material: Titanium
  • Water Resistance: 10 ATM / 100m
  • Power Reserve: 240 hours

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