The new Oris Big Crown ProPilot Calibre 111, as the name implies, is powered by the Swiss brand’s new Caliber 111 hand-wound movement. Developed and built on their own premises, the beautiful mechanism not only makes this new timekeeper even more exclusive, but also shows quite clearly that Oris has enough resources to make a wonderful caliber that, at least in terms of functionality and efficiency, rivals those recently introduced by a lot more established watchmaking houses.
You can’t even hope to win a world class race if you don’t have a personal coach. That’s sort of obvious.
The same goes to a watchmaking brand that doesn’t have ability to develop and build an in-house movement to power its premium timepieces. You can plaster your Sellita movement (not that there is something wrong with them per se) with all sorts of ‘exclusive’ third-party complications; you can take the blanc caliber apart and decorate it to a point where its own designer won’t recognize its ‘child’; you can even order a limited run of the mechanisms fine-tuned and polished to your own specs (as Longine does, for example), but you will still be second-tier manufacturer who can manufacture a mechanism of its own. You will always be that ‘other’ watchmaker that will never achieve a cult following of its own.
It looks like Oris is finally fed up with its ‘also ran’ status. Back in 2014, the Swiss-based brand has introduced its first manufacture-grade mechanism in years. Called Oris caliber 110, the large hand-wound engine animated their limited edition Oris 110 Years Anniversary (Ref. 01 110 7700 6081-Set LS) model and offered impressive 240 hours (whole ten days!) of guaranteed power reserve, as well as featured a very handy power reserve display and a subsidiary seconds sub-dial.
Their new Caliber 111 seems to be a sort of evolution of the first mechanism adding a simple calendar thus making this new Oris Big Crown ProPilot Calibre 111 an even more useful accessory (don’t know about you, but I always tend to forget current date, especially in a highly stressful situation of filling a postal receipt).
Although I am not sure whether the mechanism is advanced enough to be called ‘groundbreaking’, it looks like the brand is going in the right direction: intuition tells me that, as time goes by, even the most well-established brands that offer premium-priced watches powered by generic mechanisms made by ETA or Sellita will have to try harder and harder in order to sell their product.
Designing this Big Crown ProPilot model, the Swiss watchmaker clearly intended to create a so called ‘halo’ model that would strengthen its brand value while increasing the share of loyal customers who would otherwise turn to IWC or Breitling as soon as finances would allow. No wonder that Oris did their best in making a timepiece that features that rare blend of refined ruggedness that allows you to use this beautiful device both as a dressy accessory and a real tool.
Using virtually the same dial layout and similar case shape as the aforementioned Oris 110 Years, the new Oris Big Crown ProPilot Calibre 111 nicely combines exemplar legibility with impressive ergonomics. For a pilot’s watch, the device is not too large in diameter (although persons with narrower wrists may find it not very comfortable to wear due to longer lugs), while its relatively slender body that comes courtesy of the slim hand-wound movement makes it look especially good with an expensive business suit.
Case & Strap
As I have already noted, the watch looks quite imposing. Although the notched bezel gives it a bit technical appearance, its proportions are great and the way its surfaces are finished with fine machine-brushing make it a very elegant piece of work.
Unlike some previous offerings from the brand, the 44-millimeter body is nicely sculpted. Its oversized winding crown not only supports the theme introduced with the bezel, but also provides good grip making the task of winding and/or setting the timepiece especially easy.
To my taste, the lugs could have been a bit shorter, but that depends on the width of your wrist.
The guaranteed water resistant of 100 meters seems to be adequate for a sporty timekeeper, which is not supposed to be used as a diving companion.
The watch is available on stainless steel bracelet, as well as green textile strap and, of course, dark brown Louisiana crocodile strap with steel folding clasp. Although the bracelet looks more practical, the leather band seems to be ideal for a person who plans to wear the piece to the office. There seems to be a lot of painstaking attention paid to the most miniscule details with smartly chosen thread for contrasting stitching finishing the picture.
Starting at CHF 5200, the timekeeper seems to be worth every penny that Oris wants for it.
For this new device, Oris has created a new hand-wound caliber. Designed and built in-house, it looks like it is based on the caliber 110 mechanism that we have already seen last year. Despite such obvious thing as the simple calendar that was added to Cal. 111, I can see that the new version of the base mechanism is a bit more refined. At least, it offers a more precise way to adjust the balance wheel thanks to a greater number of teeth on its regulator lever.
The rest seems to be the same with the plates and bridges featuring the same nice machine-brushing we have seen on the case with the texture nicely accented by polished screw heads and visible synthetic rubies.
As you can see on the photo below, the mechanism is clearly seen through a sapphire crystal on the timekeeper’s back cover.
Ah, the dial. Designed in the same spirit as that of 110 Anniversary model, this part, too, offers a very impressive mix of high (but not extreme) legibility and a bit unexpected level of refinement.
I especially like the way they solved the problem of overlapped numerals and sub-dials. As you can see on the photos, they simply put the “2” and “4” above the recessed power reserve indicator not only preserving the timekeeper’s readability, but also enhancing the feeling of depth that it produces.
Perhaps, Oris could have refrained from putting so many inscriptions on this beautiful anthracite-colored dial so you could admire its nice sunburst pattern in all of its beauty, but that’s subjective I suppose.
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Oris Big Crown ProPilot Calibre 111 Hand-Wound watch specification
Price: CHF 5200
Movement: Manual, Oris caliber 111, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 40
Movement frequency: 21,600 vph
Power reserve: 240 hours (10 days)
Movement decoration: Brushed bridges and plates, polished screw-heads
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, power reserve indicator
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 44.00 mm
Case height: No data
Lug width: No data
Numerals: Arabic, luminous, applied
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet / Green textile strap / Dark brown Louisiana crocodile strap with steel folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire