Independent Swiss watch brand Oris is as well-known for producing modern retro-inspired pilot’s watches as it is for its high-tech diving creations — and best of all, it offers all of its timepieces at incredibly reasonable prices. One of its most popular series is the Big Crown pilot’s watch collection, which has been going strong since its launch in 1938. Eight decades on, we think this newly launched Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date is a real winner.
Perfect for pilots
Oris was founded in 1904 by two men who shared the same vision: to create high-quality Swiss Made watches at reasonable prices. A few years later, the French aviator, inventor and engineer Louis Blériot made his historic flight over the English Channel, joining a roster of early aviation pioneers such as the Wright brothers who would inspire a generation of flying-machine inventors and experimenters on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1910, a year after that first cross-Channel flight, Oris unveiled a pocket watch with an image of a Blériot plane engraved on the case. In 1917, the brand created its first pilot’s wristwatch (but, unusually, it could only be adjusted when a pushbutton above the crown was activated).
In 1938, Oris launched what would become its most enduring pilot’s watch collection to date: the Big Crown. So-called for its signature oversized crown, it was designed so that pilots could adjust it while wearing thick leather gloves, and it was prized for its clear dial, Arabic numerals and fluted, easy-to-grip bezel. Another feature designed with pilots in mind was Oris’s Pointer Date function – a red-tipped central hand that clearly indicated the date on a chapter ring around the edge of the dial. This simple but ingenious feature went on to become a signature complication within Oris’s wider watch collection, while the Big Crown line itself established the first of Oris’s four ‘worlds’: aviation.
Fast-forward to today and the Big Crown collection has never been out of production, such is its popularity. In 2018, Oris revived the line with fresh dial colours and a cool domed sapphire crystal. With vintage watches back in vogue, the brand has definitely found its groove, which is why we’re excited to see this latest addition to the line-up.
The Big Crown collection has been a pillar of Oris since its launch in 1938, and this new Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date proudly carries on that tradition
As its name suggests, the new 40mm Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date features a head-turning bronze case, bezel and crown alongside a matching bronze dial — the perfect embodiment of Oris’s industrial philosophy. Just as the bronze of the case will develop a distinctive patina over time, the solid bronze dial has been chemically treated and coated with a transparent matte lacquer to create a unique finish for every timepiece. The dial has been designed with pilots in mind, hence the indexes, large numerals and hands are filled with highly legible Super-LumiNova®. It’s water-resistant to 50m.
Of course, the watch also features Oris’s Pointer Date mechanism, which has become synonymous with the Big Crown collection, allowing the wearer to easily read the date around the edge of the dial. The distinctive red rotor of the Oris-developed automatic pointer date 754 movement, which boasts a 38-hour power reserve, is visible through the sapphire crystal case back. One of our favourite features of this model is its aged brown leather strap – the perfect finishing touch to a watch which we’re convinced will have enduring appeal (£1,500).
The new Oris Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date exudes retro appeal thanks to its bronze case, which will take on a unique patina over time
Going for bronze
Though commonly associated with humble third-place in the Olympics, bronze has lately stepped into the limelight, with many top Swiss watch brands, including Oris, championing its retro allure. The material is typically a combination of copper and tin, and is often used in shipbuilding due to its high resistance to saltwater corrosion.
The prevalence of bronze in the marine world makes it a perfect material for diver’s watches, and it’s exciting to see bronze join the Oris Big Crown line-up. Over time, it will develop a unique lustre as it reacts to the wearer’s body chemistry, making the watch totally exclusive to the wearer. In the words of Oris’s Honorary Chairman, Dr Rolf Portmann, ‘In a world of clinical perfection and digitalisation, people appreciate objects that tell their own story. As this watch patinates, that’s what it will do.’
Discover more Oris watch stories on Calibre Online here.