Disclaimer: I borrowed this watch from a friend, who recently purchased it pre-owned, and it is in very good condition. However, since this watch was worn/used, please make note that the experience might differ from that of a brand new watch. This review is not affiliated in any way with Oris or any other entity. All opinions here are my own.
I’ve owned Oris watches in the past, albeit for very short periods of time, but this is the first Oris to make it to a review. I think Oris make great watches, with excellent build quality and finishing. Their prices are also not difficult to reason with, once you factor in the typical 20-25% discounts that you should be able to get from most dealers. I’d say that Oris is more popularly known for their range of dive watches, and I’ve owned both an Aquis and a Divers Sixty-Five in the past.
But today I’ll be taking a look at their Big Crown ProPilot. This is the previous generation, with the printed hour numerals instead of the additively manufactured three dimensional looking numerals. This watch has a retail price of around $1550, but you should be able to get them for around $1200 from your nearest Oris dealer.
Let’s check it out!
I measured the case to be 40.5 mm in diameter, 48 mm from lug-to-lug width and 12.15 mm tall. As you’d expect from an entirely utilitarian watch, it is entirely brushed with no polished accents. The case is actually my favorite aspect of this watch, and the only real reason to pick this watch over the dozens of other pilot watches in this category.
The mid-case extends, tapers and curves down into a pair of lugs that feel like a true extension of the case. I don’t know much about sports cars, but these lugs feel like they belong on one. The build quality and finishing on the case is quite exceptional.
To make this even better, you have a slightly recessed fixed bezel section that has a very light engraving on the outer half of the bezel. The design may sound a bit ridiculous, but it is executed very well and I think it looks and feels great. The partially engraved bezel also minimizes any glare that you might observe on a more polished or even entirely brushed bezel.
True to the name, you have a very well proportioned 6.5 mm signed screw-down crown that is extremely comfortable and easy to operate. The grip is excellent, and the crown has no wobble.
Flipping it over, you have a screw-down case-back with an exhibition window. This watch is rated for up-to 100m of water resistance, which is good for a pilot watch.
The dial is very plain, lackluster and unforgettably ordinary. But those appear to be the ideal ingredients for most pilot watches, since the design objective is legibility, and not design extravagance.
There is a printed outer minute track, printed in white against a matte black dial background. There are slim white ticks for the minute markers, and larger bold rectangles for each increment of five. The printing quality is great.
There is a special marker for the 12 o’clock, to help orient the watch, equivalent to the triangle on a flieger dial.
You then have printed Arabic numerals that are well proportioned, easy to read and lumed. Again, the finishing around these indices is great, and no complaints from me here.
You have a date window at the 3 o’clock position that has a dial matched date wheel background, and white text. I don’t usually like 3 o’clock date windows, but this one is very stealthy and I think deserves some praise. The finishing here is great too.
The brand’s logo is printed under the 12 o’clock index, and the watch name above the 6 o’clock index.
The handset matches the simple and highly functional dial design with large white hands for the hour and minutes, which have painted black bases to make it appear as though they are floating on the dial.
The seconds hand follows a similar design style, except most of the hand is painted black except for a high contrast red tip. At a quick glance, it really does look like two floating white hands and a floating red tip. So good design work here!
The lume on this watch is quite good, and in typical pilot watch fashion, very easy to read too. All the lumed elements are BGW9 Super LumiNova, and the hands are much more generously lumed than the printed indices.
I suspect that the newer models with solid three dimensional indices will perform significantly better than this. This isn’t bad; it is just not great. The 3D indices add a lot of character to the dial too.
The hands are great though – they glow bright and have good longevity too. Overall, I wouldn’t say that this is one of the best lumed watches out there, but it is good enough for most of us.
This watch uses a modified Sellita SW220-1 movement. I was surprised to see an SW220-1 in there instead of an SW200-1, but I suspect that they repurposed the same movement base from their “big date” version of the same watch.
The movement looks clean, but lacks any kind of interesting decoration. So this is likely a standard grade movement with some in-house modification.
You also have the iconic Oris red rotor, and the movement delivers an overall modest but clean appearance. I would’ve preferred a bit more decoration for a watch in this price category though. On my time-grapher, I observed roughly -8 spd in the dial up position and -2 spd in the crown up position.
On The Wrist
The 40.5mm case diameter and 48mm lug-to-lug width fit well on my wrist. You would expect a 40.5mm diameter watch without a large bezel to appear large on my 6.25″ wrist, but this doesn’t feel that way.
The height of 12.15mm, flat case-back and curved lugs help it sit comfortably on my wrist, and the weight feels very well balanced.
This particular watch came with their fabric strap, which feels like sailcloth and Cordura. It has an interesting clasp design that requires you to insert the strap into the clasp and then fold it back inward.
To wrap this up – I like this watch, but I’m not sure I’m convinced that it is the best available pilot watch out there. I found the Laco Munster Blaue Stunde 42mm to be a lot more enjoyable, for around $1200 retail. But I think with pilot watches, since they all share so many design cues, it becomes a highly subjective matter. I will say that the case on the Oris feels a lot more modern and robust, and this has the added feature of a screw-down crown.
So if you really like this watch, there’s nothing that should stop you from buying it. I would recommend getting the newer dial with the three dimensional indices instead though. And make sure you find the best deal available.
Thanks for reading!