Watches: Oris Pre-Baselworld 2014 Introductions

By Thierry Ané on March 6, 2014

Since the beginning of the year, every month like clockwork, Oris unveiled one of the novelties the brand will officially introduce in Basel later this month. As I have not discussed the first two models yet, let me use this month's release as an opportunity to present all three models to give you a taste of what this brand has been working on this year.

The first model to be introduced in January belongs to the “Aviation Big Crown” collection. Immediately recognisable by their fluted bezel, these rugged pilot’s watches with an affordable price tag have gathered a broad fan base over the years. One model in particular, the Big Crown Timer Chronograph, exudes a perfect blend of masculinity and technical skills, and has proved very successful in all its previous renditions. This year, the brand introduces a dark grey PVD steel version mounted on a black calfskin leather strap with contrasting stitches and a stainless steel pin buckle with the same gunmetal colour as the case.

The hands and Arabic numerals are covered with SuperLuminova for perfect legibility in all conditions. Their light green colour contrasts nicely with the black of the dial. On this model, the inner bezel ring features a revolving minute scale that serves as a timer function.

Inside this 46 mm watch beats the 675 calibre based on the famous ETA Valjoux 7750. This self-winding movement is known for its reliability and extreme robustness. Its functions include the time of the day with a small second counter, the date and the day of the week by windows as well as a chronograph. The open case back lets you admire the brand’s iconic red oscillating weight and maintains the feet-meter conversion scale that many fans of the brand appreciate so much.

With a retail price of CHF 3,300, the Big Crown Timer Chronograph is certainly good value for money but also a very modern-looking watch versatile enough to be worn in all situations.

In February, Oris unveiled the Artix Pointer Moon as part of the “Culture Artix” line. Perhaps you remember the ProDiver Pointer Moon introduced by the brand in 2013. It was, in my opinion, together with Aquis Depth Gauge, the best models presented by the brand last year and both timepieces counted among the best diver's watches on display at Baselworld 2013. What made the ProDiver Pointer Moon so special is the 761 calibre (based on a Sellita SW300) inside.

This self-winding movement with time and date functions also displays the phases of the moon by an unusual central hand. I gave it a “special mention” in my article about the Most Poetic Moon Phase Models of 2013Watches: Most Poetic Moon Phase Models of 2013 as, for once, the moon indication is both extremely easy to set and to read.

This year, Oris offers a more refined case to this movement developed in-house. It is now presented in the elegant 42 mm Artix case paired with black calfskin leather with crocodile pattern and a stainless steel folding clasp. The Culture Artix line is characterised by its sober and refined dials. It was thus not necessarily obvious to incorporate this moon phase complication without altering the design codes of the collection. The brand’s designers did an excellent job as the new Artix Pointer Moon retains a very understated and uncluttered black dial with nickel hour markers and hands, both filled with SuperLuminova.

A small central hand indicates the current phase of the moon on a discreet ring located on the middle of the dial and graduated from 1 to 29. The flange prolongs the hour markers with Arabic numerals but also cleverly incorporates small moons at different levels of its cycle for a more visual indication of the moon phases.

This is a fine model with an interesting complication that you will not find elsewhere in this price range. The watch costs CHF 1,900.

This month, it is the turn of the “Culture Artelier” collection to welcome a new model: the Artelier Jumping Hour. It is the first model in the Oris range to showcase this relatively unusual way of telling the time. On the silver guilloché dial, a large aperture at 12 o’clock reveals a disc that instantaneously jumps every sixty minutes to indicate the hours digitally. The minutes and seconds are both displayed in off-centred sub-dials that elegantly overlap. Note how the brand’s designers manage to nicely incorporate the nickel hour markers and the minutes track without spoiling the purity of the dial design.

Powered by the self-winding 917 calibre (based on a Sellita SW300), this Artelier Jumping Hour comes in a 40.5 mm stainless steel case with folding buckle and dark brown calfskin leather with the same crocodile pattern as the previous model. It retails for CHF 4,100.

Once again, this is the perfect example that traditional watchmaking does not necessarily mean prohibitive prices. Oris puts a refined complication within reach for many watch lovers and I truly hope this model will find the success it deserves.

I think it is very clever to unveil three very different timepieces from three important collections before the Basel fair. If these three models are any indication of the quality of the other novelties, the brand will not disappoint its many fans, watch lovers in search of reasonably priced models that are still examples of fine watchmaking.