Oris, for a number of years, has been an official sponsor of the Reno Air Races, held in the Nevada desert annually since 1964. Like so many other events where people gather in groups, this year’s air races were called off due to concerns over the spread of Covid-19. Oris, however, is still releasing a limited edition watch to commemorate the race as they have in years past, and it should come as no surprise that the watch in question is aviation inspired. We’re quite accustomed to seeing thoughtful Oris limited editions in the diving realm (to promote conservation) and of course they release a Jazz influenced watch on a yearly basis that has a dressy flair, but pilot watch LEs are a little bit more rare, so we thought this was worth taking a closer look at.
The Oris 57th Reno Air Races Limited Edition is based on the brand’s Big Crown ProPilot, their traditional professional pilot’s watch. Like the Aquis, their pro diver, the ProPilot works really well as a base for additional complications and style flourishes, which is very much what we find in this LE.
This new watch has been given a grey PVD coating for a tool-ish but modern look, and also includes a GMT complication as well as a circular date window. GMT functionality is handled with a long 24 hour hand (tipped with a representation of an airplane, naturally) pointing to a 24 scale on the outer perimeter of the dial. The date can be read on an inner ring, with a blue pointer that rotates around a 31 day counter. The result is a pilot’s watch that’s pleasingly busy, but still easily read. The high contrast white indices and hands against the black dial help a lot here, as do the blue accents that draw your eye to the date and GMT indicators. The date implementation here is a particular highlight, as it eliminates the need for what would surely be a controversial date window, and helps keep the dial symmetrical and visually pleasing to the eye. The watch is powered by the automatic Oris 798 movement, which is a modified Sellita SW330-1 with 42 hours of power reserve. Filling out the specs, this LE matches other ProPilots with 100 meters of water resistance and a screw down crown, along with generous SuperLumiNova application to the hands and applied hour markers.
The Air Races Limited Edition is a big watch, but not in an absurd way, with a stainless steel case measuring 41mm in diameter. As a pilot’s watch, we would of course expect it to be on the large side, but we anticipate the stealthy PVD coating and lack of polished surfaces to help it appear smaller on the wrist. This style of watch tends to work well in sizes over 40mm, as it draws attention to the unique pilot’s watch design elements, like the coin edge bezel and the oversized crown. The size also simply makes the time easier to read, which is certainly of considerable importance for any watch in this style, whether used by actual pilots or not.
The watch ships on a black textile strap with a PVD coated stainless steel folding clasp, and a blue lining that matches the accents on the dial. The Air Races Limited Edition is limited to 1,000 examples, and is available now from Oris and through their authorized dealer network. The retail price is $2,850. Oris