Oris Big Crown ProPilot X

Oris Big Crown ProPilot X on wrist

Oris was once one of the world’s 10 largest watch companies. The quartz crisis just about killed them. Oris recovered from its near-death experience by selling high-quality vintage-style timepieces in the $2k to $5k range. The titanium 44mm Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 is a clear break from the Swiss watchmaker’s conservative not-to-say stodgy past. But what is it?

One thing it’s not: a pilot’s watch. The Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115’s got neither the stark minimalism of an IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark VIII nor the wrist-borne content vomit of the Citizen Promaster Navihawk.

Another thing the Oris ain’t: an Oris. I mean, it’s not an Oris that looks like an Oris. A fact that the company’s Holstein-HQ both acknowledges and celebrates.

Oris Big Crown ProPilot X with bracelet

The Oris Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 powered by an in-house developed calibre is a landmark design. The skeletonised Calibre 115 movement opens up the 10-day power reserve and non-linear power reserve indicator to reveal how they work. It’s a contemporary take on luxury that highlights the eternal value of a beautifully crafted Swiss Made mechanical watch.

I reckon the Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 is Oris’ attempt to reinvent the brand. A big bold step towards a new, non-boring, non-retro design language. A move based entirely on doing what Oris does best: make watches.

Oris Big Crown ProPilot X. Now THAT'S a caseback!

I swear I’m not making this shit up.

“Traditionally, skeletonisation provided a window for a watchmaker’s talents,” Oris’ website asserts, “but this movement had higher ambitions. It had to reconnect people to how things work.”

It’s a mission statement that rings especially true when contemplating the newcomer’s caseback. Let’s take a closer look . . .

What’s most noticeable is what’s not here: any hand finishing or embellishment.

Unlike Zenith’s skeletonized Defy Inventor, the Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 is less of an artistic statement and more of a machine. It’s Oris stripped bare, freed from the need to cater to whims of fashionability.

In that sense, the PPX15 reconnects Oris with its utilitarian roots; Oris made alarm clocks before it made watches, and survived WWII by making alarm clocks.

Despite the brutality of the ProPilot’s design, or maybe because of it, Oris’ sales copy waxes lyrical about their new direction (albeit in a creepy kinda way).

The Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 lays bare its inner workings. Nothing is hidden. Even the barrel at 12 o’clock is skeletonised so you can see the extended mainspring. Winding the crown, you watch on as the mainspring coils tighter… and tighter… until it’s fully wound and ready to deliver 10 days of uninterrupted power.

I’m not a big fan of skeletonized watches; the vast majority make it damn near imposssible to read the time. (If reading the time isn’t the point, I’ll have a Haldimann H9 Reduction). The Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 isn’t as illegible as most. And perfect in the dark. But more than that, this thing’s got moxie.

The PPX15 is an Oris like we’ve never seen before. A watch that says look bitches! This is who we are. Master mother-f’ing watchmakers. What you see is what you get and this is some fine shit. You lucky we let you pay $7600 for this watch. Yeah. Get in line.

Where does Oris go from here? For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, it’s a question that will keep horophiles on their edge of their seats.

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