So you want to know the date, but shiver at the idea of a date window breaking the perfect symmetry of your dial? Look no further – Oris has got your answer.
When it comes to buying a new watch, everyone has their own criteria. Some look out for provenance, others keep an eye out for style. Regardless, we all want to know that we’re getting our money’s worth. Money after all, doesn’t grow on trees, and we could always do with a little extra in the pocket.
It’d been some time since I bought my last watch, and that familiar itch for a new piece was starting to return, much to the fear of my wallet. I would soon be reaching the 2-year mark of my current job, and what better way was there to celebrate that, than with a new watch?
Slightly self-delusional motivations aside, my quest for a new watch began, and this is the story of how I eventually got to Oris.
If you’re a watch enthusiast, you’d have heard of Oris at least once by now. Oris however, is one of the smaller houses, at least here in Singapore. There aren’t as many authorised dealers compared to other brands, and Oris typically occupies a smaller floor space at retailers. If that makes you think that Oris can’t pull a punch, you’d be sorely mistaken. For those who need it, I’ve taken the liberty to go through the Oris website to pull out key details for you:
Oris was founded in 1904 by Paul Cattin and Georges Christian in the Swiss town of Hölstein. For reference, Rolex was founded in 1908, while Seiko was founded in 1881. Towards the end of the 1960s, Oris was one of the 10 largest watch companies in the world. History? Check.
In 1970, amidst the backdrop of the Quartz Crisis, Oris becomes part of the ASUAG (Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG), the predecessor of the Swatch group. ASUAG was formed as a response to the collapsing Swiss watch industry, which had been majorly disrupted by the advent of quartz watches. In 1982 however, a management buyout sees Oris taking control of its own fate once more. Independent watchmaker? Check.
As an independent, Oris decided to focus solely on mechanical watches, with a goal to create quality watches at competitive prices. Search “best automatic watches under $2000” on YouTube, and you will find Oris being featured by the likes of Teddy Baldassarre, TGV, Watch Gringa, along with countless other individual reviews raving about Oris. Value? Check.
With all that, what’s not to like about the brand?
Coming back to the watch of the day, the Oris Big Crown Pointer date was first introduced in 1938, intended as a watch for pilots. The “big crown”, which gave the model its namesake, allowed for pilots to adjust their watches while wearing leather gloves with greater ease.
The design language has remain largely unchanged since; and the pointer date complication has become a signature of Oris’s. There’s something incredibly satisfying that comes with wearing a piece this timeless.
The Case & Specifications
The Big Crown Pointer Date comes in several case sizes; the reference I own (01 754 7741 4065-07 8 20 22 phew what a mouthful) comes in at 40mm. With the crown included, it measures roughly 42mm, while lug-to-lug is at 48mm. The watch wears true to size, and fits snugly on my wrist with no overhang (16.5cm/6.5inch). Other case sizes include 36mm and 38mm, though it appears those are not offered with the metal bracelet and come with different dial colours. I might have opted for a 38mm had it come with a bracelet; I find myself leaning towards smaller watches these days.
The crystal is a beautiful double domed sapphire crystal, with anti-reflective coating on the inner side. The dome adds slightly to the thickness, which is a very reasonable 12mm. Surrounding the crystal is a coin-edge bezel; not a feature you see everywhere. The finishing is well executed, and the texture integrates nicely with the rest of the case, which features a brushed finish on the upper side of the lugs, and a polished finish on all other surfaces.
Oris opted for a screw-down case back offering 5 bar of water resistance, with see-through mineral glass prominently featuring their trademark Red Rotor. The Red Rotor is supposed to represent their philosophy of “producing high-quality, Swiss Made mechanical watches with real-world functions at accessible prices”. I enjoy the splash of colour, though some may find it a bit too bright.
Looking at the crown, its big and chunky, offering a very good grip. Operation of the crown is smooth and buttery, and winding the watch is a joy. While it is called the “Big Crown”, the crown size really isn’t surprising by modern standards, especially with oversized watches having been the rage just a while back. Don’t be intimidated by the name; the overall proportions are well-thought through and purposeful. Here, function dictated the form, and I must say the form is excellent.
If I had to say one thing about the dial, it would be simply gorgeous. I don’t think I can grow tired of staring at it. There are 3 reasons why I think the dial is superb:
The dial colours offered by Oris are one of a kind, and I haven’t seen similar colours being replicated by other brands yet. Here, I chose the what Oris says is “blue”, but really it’s more of a greyish-blue. Under certain lighting and angles, the dial appears darker; other times it exudes a more pastel tone.
Other options include red, grey, green and even gradient dials. I recommend that you head to a retailer to see one in person; it makes so much difference and pictures don’t do it enough justice.
Handset & Indices
Cathedral styled hands filled with Superluminova are paired with indices printed in a retro styled font, giving off an aura of timelessness. Many are quick to point out the 4 o’clock marker, printed with its unique curve.
The hour and minute hands taper down to a sharp tip, with a thin seconds hand extending outwards all the way to the edge of the dial, where a minute track is found. The dial is highly legible and reading the time is a breeze.
Pointer Date Complication
Looking beyond the minute track, the numbers 1-31 are dotted around the edge. Clearly, these are dates, and here’s where that extra helping hand comes into play. Aside from the hour, minute and second hand, the Big Crown Pointer Date has one additional hand to do just that: point out the date. The hand ends off with a red tipped and slightly curved triangle, which shifts from numeral to numeral as the days go by. You get your date function, minus any cut out windows, allowing the dial to maintain its smooth façade. Nifty!
On their website, Oris simply says that the Big Crown is powered by an automatic winding pointer date they developed. The watch actually uses a Sellita SW200 as its base, with a frequency of 28,800 BPH and power reserve of around 38 hours. Some parts of the internet mention that Oris uses an Elabore grade of the SW200, which would give it an accuracy of +/-7 to 20 seconds a day.
Oris has also included its inhouse Calibre 403 in some newer Big Crown pieces. The Calibre 403 has a 5 day power reserve, and is accurate to -3/+5 seconds a day. If you’re looking for a better movement, this is a potential option albeit with a corresponding price tag.
The 40mm case size offers the option of a multi-piece stainless steel metal bracelet with a folding clasp. The bracelet starts at 20mm, before tapering down to 16mm at the clasp.
The links alternate between polished and brushed finishes, creating some visual interest. The links are smooth and positioned such that there’s just enough of a gap to provide better airflow.
Solid end links are provided, and the milled clasp provides 5 micro adjustments to ensure you can find a good fit. The folding clasp is polished, but in my experience, its an absolute scratch magnet. If you’re OCD about having a scratch-less watch, I’d advise you to watch out for that.
With a 20mm lug width, the watch will easily allow for multiple strap options. I’ve found that it pairs well with leather, and my favourite is to have it on a blue, suede strap to complement the dial.
As of writing, the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Reference 01 754 7741 4065-07 8 20 22 sells for a RRP of SGD$2900. If you talk nicely to your dealer, you’ll probably get a little discount.
Value is relative and while this is no small sum of money, I’ve found that the Big Crown punches above its price class, and holds its own against more expensive watches. I personally don’t regret this one; in fact I love it. As far as value goes in the realm of Swiss Made, this is definitely a strong contender.
Between my purchase and the time of writing, the price actually increased by $200 (#inflation). I’d expect that it will continue rising in time to come.
The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date was my first foray into the world of “entry luxury” and Swiss Made watches – has it been worth it? Well so far, yes. The watch is definitely well made, and I like the fact that Oris is continuing the Big Crown legacy that first started in 1938. I’m confident that the watch will survive the years to come, and remain as timeless as it is.
Of all the watches I’ve owned so far, this one has surprisingly drawn the most attention, despite being the least flashy of the bunch. Its not large like my Samurai, nor eye catching like my Timex Q. And yet, the beautiful dial and pointer date complication has piqued enough interest to spark multiple conversations.
That being said, the Big Crown may not be for everyone in the sense that it has its own unique character, with its retro styling and roots in aviation. I wouldn’t categorise it as a do-it-all, everyday watch, much like the Tissot Gentleman or Seiko Sarb, but if you’re game to rock it, the Big Crown Pointer Date will most certainly perform, in a manner that may even outshine its competition. As Oris would put it, “go your own way”.
History, style and value come together to form a watch I am sure will continue to be cherished by many in time to come