The new Oris Big Crown ProPilot Series is part of Oris’ Aviation Collection. The Big Crown heritage goes clear back to the 1930s when Oris began producing big crown pilot watches for WW II pilots. The new lineup contains three models: the Date, the Day Date, and the Chronograph GMT.
The first thing you notice about the Big Crown ProPilots is their nice spread of case sizes. For those who like their pilot’s large, the Day Date measures 45mm in diameter, while the chronograph is curiously a millimeter smaller at 44. For those who want pilot style, but prefer something more nimble, the simple Day model comes in at 41mm.
All have screw-down crowns and display backs. Neither of those features is essential on a pilot watch, but modern watch nerds typically expect both. And Oris does a modest but appealing job of movement decoration with their signature red rotor, thus yielding something eye-catching to see when one turns the watch over.
The Day Date’s engine is the Oris calibre 752, while the Date’s power plant is Oris’ calibre 751. Both are based on the Sellita SW 220-1. Oris is known for their in-house movement complications and modifications, hence their unique caliber names. In this instance, they replaced the standard date wheels with ones of their own design that feature a unique, chunky font in an larger-than normal size. Though a subtle change, it creates a more complete look, for a better designed watch. We think it’s interesting – and important – to note the increasing use of Sellita movements in recognized and established Swiss brands.
The chronograph’s movement is the Oris 677, based on the ETA 7754. The GMT hand is black with yellow tipping while the chrono seconds hand is tipped in red. This is a nod to style rather than function. It’s not a problem with the GMT hand as one is not usually in a hurry to know the time in Greenwich, and yellow stands out against the black dial. However, visibility of the chrono seconds hand would benefit from being all red or white with a red tip.
The thin, patterned non-rotating bezel is a thematic nod to the blades of a turbine aircraft engine. This, along with the fine knurling of the crown, gives the watch a unique look we haven’t seen elsewhere. The case in general is also a nice modern adaptation of the pilot style, with flowing lines and crisp edges. Oris did a great job of keeping it simple, but exciting, with small details like how the bezel cuts in and out of the midcase, rather than simply laying on top.
Though not on display at Basel, we love the military green textile straps which are featured on all three watches. The strap comes with an adjustable stainless steel deployant clasp. If the strap isn’t to your taste, fear not. All three watches are also available with your choice of leather strap or stainless steel bracelet. The bracelet has a classic design with an elegant taper and a bit of space between links, making it quite comfortable.
The bottom line is we really like this new series of watches. Both size- and style-wise, they fit the pilot watch ethos. We’re betting they’ll be popular with the pilot watch nerd crowd. The simple Date model really stuck out to us, as the smaller size made is a bit more accessible and overall more robust in the hand.
by Ed Estlow