The idea of creating a watch with a rotating internal bezel that could be operated by an external unit is not terribly new. However, it is this new Oris BC4 Flight Timer (Ref. 690 7615 41 54 LS) timepiece that the Swiss-based brand presented at Baselworld 2008 show that puts the whole concept on its head.
The Swiss watch making company will soon start selling its new Oris BC4 Flight Timer (Ref. 690 7615 41 54 LS) automatic timepiece that features a second time zone indicator (aka GMT.)
Being an ultimate pilot’s watch, it definitely looks like the Swiss engineers have somehow managed to squeeze a whole airplane cockpit into a modestly-sized 42.7mm stainless steel case with a huge vertical crown dominating the view.
The crown is designed to operate the internal rotating bezel that can be used not only as a rudimentary compass if you know how to use it (and even if you don’t know, it is not really difficult: put the watch on a table or any other flat surface with the hour hand pointing at the sun, then keep rotating the inner bezel until the “S” mark stays roughly midways between the hour hand and the 12 hour mark on the dial, now, if you are in the Northern hemisphere, you roughly get your South), but also as a second time zone thanks to its extra set of bright red Arabic numerals.
Although I don’t find the contraption to be particularly convenient to use, it is still intuitive enough: pull the crown upwards and turn it counter- or clockwise to turn the bezel. Yes, it is that simple.
With so much information available, the watch doesn’t feel busy to a degree when all the data becomes virtually useless.
Yes, the internal bezel with its numerous markings draws a lot of attention to itself and, at the beginning, will fight vigorously for your attention. However, as soon as you get used to it, you will automatically filter out all information, which unnecessary at the moment and get only what you need, be it time in your current time zone, your home zone or the date.
Although lacking fluorescent markings, the second time zone dial is clearly visible at 3 o’clock in normal lighting conditions.
However, to my taste, the strips of lume on the main pair of hour and minute hands are too narrow and short for the indicators to be easily read at night.
With its size of almost 43 millimeters wide, the case still looks quite massive on a normal wrist. The problem is partially compensated by a relatively low profile of the main, um, hull, but the vertical crown still makes using the BC4 Flight Timer as a daily beater a bit troublesome: if there is a piece of clothing that this control element can cling to, believe me: it will.
The two push-pieces just below eight and four o’clock positions are actually quite useful. Push the one at the left size of the body with a universally understandable “minus” sign on it and the main hour hand will move an hour back allowing you to adjust to new time zone with a single push of the button. Push the one on the right and the hand will jump one hour forward.
Both push-pieces do not affect reading on the second time zone display, which is, too, convenient. If you, however, need to change both time zones at once (for example, on a night when a DST time comes into effect), just use the main crown at three o’clock.
The BC4 Flight Timer is powered by what Oris prefers to call Caliber 690 self-winding mechanism. Based on the well-known ETA 2836-2 blank movement, it features an extra complication module attached to it. Although the use of an add-on module reduces the timekeeper’s reliability, it is still a good price to have a very unusual fashion accessory.
Alas, the movement won’t stun you with the way it is finished: compared to a standard blank caliber, the only thing that makes it stand out is the signature Oris oscillating weight painted red. Also, the transparent case back cover could have been fitted with sapphire crystal: you really should expect something more than a mineral glass in a watch in this price range.
All of its shortcomings notwithstanding, the BC4 Flight Timer is definitely a must have, especially if the manufacturer keeps the street price below the $3000 mark, which will be a bargain comparing to the recently unveiled IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition TOP GUN priced in the $5000 – $10,000 range.
Oris BC4 Flight Timer watch specification:
Price range: $3000 — $4000
Movement: Automatic, Caliber Oris 690, base ETA 2836-2, Swiss Made
Power reserve: 38 hours
Case material and construction: Stainless steel, multi-piece, secured with 7 screws
Case back: Mineral glass
Complications: Second time zone (GMT), date, compass
Dial: Two piece black dial with printed pattern, applied nickel hour markers, nickel hands with Superluminova inlay
Water resistance: 100 meters
Crystal: Sapphire glass domed on both sides with inner anti-reflective coating
Case diameter: 42.70 mm
Case thickness: 13.50 mm
Strap: Black gaucho leather strap with contrasting stitching and special folding clasp