Oris watches have been honoring Swiss timekeeping for over a century and their Oris Big Crown ProPilot has been around for much of that esteemed history. So it’s only fitting that Oris made both an homage to the past and a bold leap into the future with the ProPilot X. Let’s take a closer look at what makes this latest addition to the collection so special.
An Anti-Pilot’s Watch Pilot’s Watch
What would you say if someone offered you a pilot’s watch but without all of those pilot-watch functions? You would probably say, “No way! I want my watch to be able to do cool stuff.” Well, have you ever really asked yourself if you will ever actually use those features? Sure, a GMT hand sounds great. But how many times have you actually used one? Really, your plane lands in a new time zone and you reset your watch. You can just google the local time if you need to know the time in another country.
Oris set out to create a pilot’s watch that honors the aesthetics of the aviation timepiece but doesn’t get bogged down with any rigid adherence to functionality. The results are amazing!
A Radical Departure
Oris has taken us into some unique territory with the ProPilot line over the years. We had some nice GMT functions like the 30-minute feature that allows you to gauge time zones in countries, such as India and Australia, that use half-hour time deviations. We’ve had dials that stuck to the original intention of an aviator’s watch — give the pilot information clearly and without fuss. We had big Arabic numerals, 24-hour indices, and traditional subdials. Well, Oris tossed much of that out the window when it moved from the Calibre 114 to Calibre 115 movement and the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X is markedly different than its forbearers.
Nearly a Century in the Making
Oris has some serious Swiss-watch heritage, dating back to Hölstein, Switzerland in 1904 when its two founding watchmakers from Le Locle were looking to strike out on their own. Their Big Crown ProPilot debuted in 1938, with a “big crown” design to accommodate the gloved hands of aviators. True, today (and even arguably then) the crown serves as more of a fashion detail. Beyond cold winter days with gloves, a big crown doesn’t serve an entirely practical purpose. But it’s a nice touch to have that big, hearty homage to pilot-watch functionality.
Pilot X for Past and Future
Oris really goes for a modern look that might fit in on a Mars lander. And the ProPilot X is also retro in a Mad Max, almost steam-punk way because… it’s skeletonized! Past incarnations of the ProPilot had sapphire case backs to let you see all the inner workings. The new ProPilot brings it all out on the front as well (but don’t worry, there’s still a sapphire case back on the ProPilot).
But the show of turning gears is kept downplayed and even industrial with the skeletonized bridges. Rather than opt for the glimmer of polished and beveled components, Oris left all of the metal unfinished as one would a factory machine during the Industrial Revolution days.
After decades of outsourcing, Oris got some attention in 2014 for returning to their roots and making in-house movements. So we’re still in somewhat new territory with the fifth in-house creation, Calibre 115, in the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X. It’s hand-wound with a power reserve of ten days, gauged by a power-reserve indicator that counts down the remaining days on the dial.
While taking a sharp departure from pilot’s watches, it’s still called a ProPilot. It honors its tool-watch niche in several ways. For one, it’s big like a pilot watch should be. Pilot watches run among the largest of the offerings out there. Standing stout and proud in the Tool Watch Kingdom (we’re looking at you 50mm Oris Altimeter). But we don’t go too crazy on the diameter of the ProPilot X and it comes in at 44mm across.
With a brushed finish, the titanium case draws design inspiration from the first ProPilot we saw in the 1930s. The bezel on the Calibre 115 also makes a not-too-subtle nod to the turbine blade of a jet engine, a motif that’s become a signature style point with Oris of late. The screw-down titanium crown also helps to give the case 100-meters worth of water resistance.
It comes with a titanium bracelet. And if you are a traditionalist, that is probably how you are going to want to wear the watch. Adding to the industrial-chic feel, the lightweight (and scratch-resistant) dark titanium bracelet offers a unique take on traditional three-link bracelets. Its V-angles are at 15 degrees, giving it a harder look than most bracelets. The hard angles on the outer side of the bracelet actually make it snugger and more comfortable on your wrist.
But the nice leather strap that comes with the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X is also an excellent way to wear the watch. It has a softer look and telling the world you’re here for a double latte and not the Martian invasion.
If you’re a purist, you’re probably going to want a GMT hand. And the classic subdials and the big Arabic numerals — most of the things we think of when we think of a pilot’s watch. But for those of you out there who want something different, this may be it. If you’re someone who wants something that pushes the envelope of the genre, you might want to take a closer look at the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X.