I love seeing design stolen from one industry and transplanted into another. It creates an originality that’s hard to achieve when looking for inspiration in your current sector. Watches do this a lot with the automotive and aviation industry. Think Autodromo’s racing-inspired watches or IWC’s Big Pilot, seemingly taken straight out of a cockpit. Right now there are also a lot of watches taking inspiration from other watches, specifically vintage watches. Think Oris’ Sixty-Five Divers collection. Oris has been making waves, no pun intended, over the last few years with some well done thoughtful vintage-inspired pieces, but yesterday they took a step towards the future.
Their newest watch, the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X, is unlike anything they’ve ever made. Honestly, there are very few watches like it from any brand. It’s a modern, sharp, industrial time piece. Looking at it, I can’t help but think about the Brutalist architecture movement that was popular in the middle of the twentieth century. A movement that is coincidentally making a comeback. The various greys and intentional lack of polish are very reminiscent of artfully used concrete. Being a pilot’s watch there are also some obvious cues from aviation, specifically jet turbines. This can be seen on the bezel and crown, and I really like it. This little touch helps solidify this piece as a pilot’s watch and also adds a sense of movement. The watch is somehow a wearable contradiction in that its finish feels cold and machine-like but at the same time, its exposed innards force a focus on its warm artful craftsmanship.
While I think it’s a beautiful watch, it is also a technically impressive watch. The movement is a Calibre 115 powered by a skeletonized, in-house developed caliber. The movement is manually wound and has an absolutely insane 10-day power reserve. This equals 240 hours of power. Compare that to Rolex’s newest movements having a power reserve of 74 hours. It also includes an Oris-patented non-linear power reserve indicator that shows the power remaining with greater accuracy as the power runs out. With this much effort put into this fully in-house movement, it’s no surprise that the Oris completely exposes the movement from the front and back. They’re really making a statement about their own watchmaking prowess.
My guess is we will look back at this watch as a turning point for Oris. While the design of this watch might not be for everyone, it shows Oris can compete at a very high level in the sports watch segment. Coming in at $7,600 on a bracelet it will sit in a crowded part of the market, but I believe it can carve out a niche. This will be looked at the same way we now look at the Tudor Pelagos. This watch could be the base from which they design their modern sports watches going forward. I for one am very much looking forward to where they go from here.