Based on their Oris Big Crown X1 Calculator (Ref. 01 675 7648 4264-07 5 23 77) that was first released in 2011, the Oris Big Crown Timer Chronograph (Ref. 675 7648 4234 LS) features only subtle cosmetic changes that, however, make all the difference: as cluttered as the base version is, the gadget still somehow manages to look cleaner and is easier to read.
While the previous iteration looked like it was designed to pick up customers that craved for a “real” Breitling Navitimer, but couldn’t afford a seven thousand dollars beast, this new iteration goes in a different direction.
Gone is the MPH to KM/H slide rule, which is now replaced on the bezel flange with a simple minutes/seconds scale, and the small seconds indicator at 9 hours has lost its small Arabic numerals that were finally substituted with fine white markers.
Long luminous stick-shaped hour markers (another nod to certain Navitimer variations) were, too, erased in order to make the watch look more similar to their recently introduced products (like this Oris TT3 Darryl O’Young Limited Edition).
As a result, we have timekeeper that looks original and more in line with recommendations for creating pilot’s watches: it is now a lot easier to read at just the first glance with its broad sword-shaped luminous hands having enough matte black background for perfect readability. Of course, the scales on 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph totalizers that are placed at 12 and 6 hours respectively still make the dial a bit busy, but that is something that you will have to get over with.
What I extremely don’t like here is the way they keep placing the calendar apertures on the dial. I can still live with the date window placed between 4 and 5 o’clock, but that day of week aperture, which is not only defiantly asymmetrical to the date but is also moved close to the center of the dial just makes me furious. On the X1 Calculator the choice of placement could be justified by their reluctance to make a cutout in the Arabic numeral at 9 o’clock. However, this new version boasts a lot more dial real estate with the luminous “9” moved a lot far from the center, so why couldn’t they have moved the aperture to the other side of the small seconds sub-dial?
It looks like an attempt at cost-cutting that could be justified if we were reviewing here something extremely affordable like a Casio Edifice, but we are talking about a watch, which is going to be offered at CHF 3300 (more than $3700 at current average exchange rate!), so in this case this cost-cutting looks more like penny-pinching (and I put it mildly).
Well, except for this, the rest looks almost perfect.
At 46 millimeters in diameter, the watch is quite big, even for a pilot, but all of its elements are well-proportioned, so if you have a large wrist, it will look good on you. A worn-look vintage leather strap would probably look absolutely brilliant with this black beauty, but even the stock dark grey calfskin strap with light-grey contrast stitching makes it look even more desirable. If the price doesn’t scare you away and you are not displeased with that day of week display, you should absolutely go for it. At least, try it on your wrist.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 3/5
Oris Big Crown Timer Chronograph (675 7648 4234 LS) specification
Price: CHF 3300 / $3700 USD (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Oris caliber 675 (base ETA Valjoux 7750), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 25
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph, day of week
Case: Stainless steel, dark grey PVD
Size: 46.00 mm
Lug width: 23.00 mm
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black calfskin strap with contrast stitching and dark grey PVD plated stainless steel pin buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective, domed
Back: Transparent (an Imperial to Metric conversion scale on the case-back cover)