First announced in January 2019 days before SIHH 2019 show, the limited-edition Oris Dive Control Chronograph (ref. 01 774 7727 7784-Set) offers a blend of great caliber, interesting exterior, and an overall flamboyant attitude of a heavy-weight boxing champion delivered in a single -albeit slightly overpriced- package.
I don’t like the direction the ProDiver collection is taking with their recent bunch of “professional” diving companions.
Their iconic 2009 ProDiver Chronograph that, too, featured a lightweight titanium case has always personified my idea of a “true” Oris diver.
The combination of signature bullet-shaped hands and hour markers, as well as an easily recognizable profile of the rotating bezel, made the ProDiver a distinctive timekeeper. It didn’t take much time to tell any member of the collection from any other diving wristwatch rated for 500-1000 meters of water resistance.
With the last members of the family, including this Dive Control Chronograph, Oris has introduced several cosmetic changes to the range. However minor, they have ripped the ProDiver off a huge part of its identity. Yes, the dial is still easy to read and its overall ergonomics -at least, for a 51mm behemoth- is still above all praise (and it also looks great, mind you,) but the soul of the original ProDiver is gone.
Case, Ergonomics & Strap
The “Versatility” value was hurt by the gargantuan size of the 51mm case: you have to be an eccentric person to wear this gadget with anything more formal than a professional diving suit or, for attire that is more casual, a pair of blue jeans and a sheepskin bomber jacket. Yet, I have the impression that the Dive Control Chronograph -as well as its numerous “professional” siblings- , was designed with eccentric persons -and collectors- in mind, and their definition of versatility may be different than mine. Still, only two and a half stars out of five for this beast in this department.
The case is also terribly thick at more than 20 millimeters from top to bottom. About 2/5 of its overall thickness coming courtesy of the unidirectional rotating ceramic bezel that houses a sapphire crystal thick enough to withstand 100 ATM of water pressure.
Timekeepers of these heroic proportions are normally heavy as a fish tank full of water. When it comes to this behemoth, the problem is partially remedied by the choice of lightweight titanium alloy it is fashioned from (the same material was also used for the folding clasp, although the crown and chronograph push-pieces are crafted from DLC-treated steel.) The black DLC coating on its surfaces makes the ProDiver look extremely cool. It also does a good job of protecting the soft metal from minor dings and scratches.
For ergonomics, the Dive Control Chronograph is good. Everything is good about it.
The setting crown offers a good grip, while the chunky chronograph push-pieces are comfortable to operate. The lugs are short making the Dive Control Chronograph just a tad longer than a normal “large” wristwatch. The points where the straps are attached to the body are moved as close to the bottom as possible. This makes making the timepiece look a bit too tall for my taste, yet the design allows the case to sit snugger on a normal wrist.
What I am not happy about is the choice of straps. The waterproof presentation box that this device comes in contains only a 26mm black rubber strap, and a complementary yellow strap molded from the same material: no bracelet here, sorry. To make changing the strap a bit easier, Oris put in the same box their traditional strap-changing tool.
The problem here is that, unlike their Culture and Aviation collections, Oris divers feature non-standard lugs. The way the straps are attached to the case makes it difficult to find a third-party replacement when the original one finally cracks or if you love the watch itself, but just hate the feel of silicon or rubber against your skin, especially in winter.
In most cases, your choice will be reduced either to getting a standard 26mm leather strap and then cutting it to fit or, preferably, ordering a custom job from a reputable person or brand. In any case, this $5k product gets even more expensive. The same goes for bracelets, although they are even more expensive to customize to fit the lugs. NATO / Zulu straps are out of the question.
The Dive Control Chronograph may look outrageous, yet the caliber that powers this monster is an ordinary Sellita SW500 chronograph. Renamed as Caliber 774 and fine-tuned to the Swiss brand’s specs, it sports the traditional red-painted oscillating weight. Being a replacement for the iconic ETA Valjoux 7750, the mechanism features the same 25 jewels and beats at 28,800 semi-oscillations per hour.
The guaranteed 48 hours of power reserve give it a significant edge over the older engine for persons who don’t plan to keep the Dive Control in a daily rotation.
That’s all that you need to know about the caliber besides the fact that it also powers their 2014 TT3 Darryl O’Young, the sporty 2013 limited-edition Calobra models, as well as dozens of other chronographs of the brand. It is as blunt and boring as the gadget’s exterior is eccentric and outrageous, which is great: in this price range, you don’t want to get yourself a watch with a rare and fragile caliber that requires you to store the device in a controllable and safe environment: preferably a bank vault.
Dial & Legibility
Chronograph dials often look busy and cluttered. This one, however, is surprisingly easy to read with every element logically sized and painted. The ProDiver is one of the few watches that doesn’t make you guess the position of the seconds hand: it is of the same white color as the hour and minute indicators, while the chronograph totalizers are bright yellow, as is the diving timer on the black ceramic bezel.
The legibility score would be even better if the sapphire crystal over the date aperture featured something like a fisheye magnifying lens, but the lack of said lens is just a minor annoyance, nothing more.
Pricing & Availability
The ProDiver Dive Control Chronograph is already available for preorder at CHF 4850 (approx. $4900,) although some US-based retailers ask as much as $6500 for this beast. From where I stand, the watch is a bit on the pricey side of the ballpark, but, hey, it’s a limited edition model with no more than 500 pieces to ever enter circulation that makes it more valuable for collectors and diving enthusiasts alike.
See also: For those into vintage vibe: Oris Divers Sixty-Five Automatic (ref. 01 733 7707 4064-07 4 20 18)
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Oris Dive Control Chronograph (ref. 01 774 7727 7784-Set) specification
Price: CHF 4850 (MSRP)
Movement: Oris Caliber 774 (based on Sellita SW500,) Swiss Made
Movement finish: Red “Oris” oscillating weight
Number of Jewels: 25
Cadence of Balance: 28,800 vph
Power Reserve: Approx. 48 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph, date
Case: Titanium, black DLC treatment
Crown: Stainless steel
Size: 51.00 mm
Height: 21.00 mm
Lug width: 26.00 mm
Dial: Black with Yellow accents
Hour markers: Luminous, applied
Water resistance: 1000 meters
Strap: 26 mm black rubber strap with black DLC titanium folding clasp; extra yellow strap and a strap-changing tool
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective coating, domed
Back: Solid, engraved
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Bought my first mechanical watch in 1986 and it took me ten more years to realize that I have a problem: at some point in time watches became my passion. Well, it could be worse.