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Reviewing a hit of 2019 – the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115

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Here at WWR, we tend to focus on the more affordable watches that are out there. That means we’re used to looking at and handling watches that you see on banner ads (in your web browser) – but today’s watch is one you see on literal billboards by the freeway (at least, I do). Those are higher-end watches, but this one is something special, so when I had the opportunity offered to get a loaner of the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 in for a few days, I leapt at the chance.

If you read any of the “big” watch blogs out there, you’re no doubt aware of the splash that the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 made in the second half of 2019. Why so? It’s because Oris debuted a movement (the Calibre 115) that they quite literally designed a watch around, that movement is quite a fun one.

How is the Calibre 115 fun? Well, for me (who is admittedly not a movement geek) it’s the fact that it’s got a 10-day power reserve. That’s why you’ve got the positively ginormous mainspring up at the top, and partly (I believe) why you’ve got such a large case (44mm). The movement itself isn’t what you would call highly finished (no crazy patterns or anything), but the finishing is done in a way that you can pick out components, but the shades of grey allow what you’re seeing to fade into the background.

That’s an important point worth noting, since the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 has an open-worked (or skeletonized) dial. Often times, these can lead to watches that it’s very difficult to read the time on. And if you trade that basic functionality to show off, you’ve lost my interest. That is one of the very pleasant surprises here – the watch is super legible. While the “greys for days” may sound boring, it contributes to being able to easily read the time. The wide, bold strips of luminous paint on the handset stands out in stark relief, allowing you to easily pick them out.

Legibility is, I think, one reason that the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 is part of the ProPilot lineup (because, by any measure, this is not a pilot watch design). Secondly, it’s the clasp on the bracelet here that, at least for Oris, allows it to fit into that line. In prior reviews, I’ve really liked the airline seatbelt clasp that has been on their textile straps. Well, though we have a bracelet here, it’s a very similar sort of design on the clasp again, which I thought was awesome to see executed this way.

Outside of those two aspects, we’re getting (even more so) into some poetic license. So, in a plane (or any vehicle, really) reducing weight is a good idea, and there’s no better way to do that in a watch than going with titanium. Here, that means you’ve got a watch that introduces some cognitive dissonance, in that it feels way lighter on the wrist than your eye is telling you it should be.

The other poetic aspect I settled on was in the bracelet design (titanium as well). Given all of the angles in the links – particularly when you articulate the bracelet – it put me in mind of a stealth fighter. Perhaps that’s just too much G. I. Joe in my youth, but that’s the free association I ended up going with. Fortunately, all of those angles are on the outside, and it’s silky smooth against the wrist.

Speaking of the inside – the inside of the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 (you know, what’s against your wrist) is even more visually stunning than what you can see up front. You get some more color here, and you’ve got some layers and depth in the bridges and such. Here is also where you can see the balance wheel at work. You can sort of see it from the front, but it’s rather obscured. And you know, I like that decision. So many brands – particularly lower-end ones – have open balance wheels on the dial, and it’s just started to feel like a cheaper approach (especially if they’re trying to pretend to be a toubillon). Here, by opting to “hide” the balance wheel, it shows Oris’ confidence in the design.

And you know what? It also helps to maintain that legibility on the dial side, as your eye won’t be distracted by any of the moving bits. And it sort of sets up a “business on the front, party in the back” approach, with the more spectacular showing reserved for the person who owns the watch and can see the back. And, at $7,600 this is not a piece many are going to be snapping up. While I like a lot of Oris pieces, in this price range your options can really open up, so it begs the question of who this watch is for. Not the skeleton watch folks, as they’re either going super inexpensive, or something high-end like from Armin Strom or Corum. So, really, this is a watch for those who prize movements (and the Calibre 115 is a delicacy) and materials (all that titanium, you can’t complain about that) above all else. It’s an awesome watch, and as an R&D platform, some fun stuff is there. I’m hoping 2020 sees some of that trickle down in their catalog. oris.ch

Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115
  • Price: $7,600
  • Who’s it for? You consider yourself a movement geek – or just like the idea of a 10-day power reserve
  • Would I wear it? At the end of day, this isn’t one I’d buy myself. It’s just a touch larger than I prefer, and skeletonized dials aren’t my preference
  • What I’d change: Knock a few days off of the PR, and shrink the case to something closer to 40mm – then we’re cooking with gas
  • The best thing about it: Aside from the 10-day power reserve, I loved seeing the seat-belt clasp from their textile straps make the move to the bracelet. One of my favorite clasps of all time.

Tech Specs from Oris

  • REFERENCE: 01 115 7759 7153-Set7 22 01TLC
  • CASE: Oris Big Crown ProPilot X, 44.00 mm, 1.732 inches, Titanium
  • MOVEMENT: Hand winding 10-day power reserve, skeleton developed by Oris
  • DIAL: Skeleton
  • STRAP/BRACELET: Titanium
  • EXTRAS
    • The Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 is powered by a skeletonised, in-house developed calibre with a 10-day power reserve and an Oris-patented non-linear power reserve indicator that shows the power remaining with greater accuracy as the time to rewind the watch approaches.
    • The watch comes with a special luxury wooden presentation box and an official manual.

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