Oris ChronOris Date – Motorsports Watches

Oris ChronOris on wrist

The Oris ChronOris Date is a cool looking watch. As any fan of the motorsports watch genre will tell you, cool is king. Does the Swiss watch bring enough style and utility to be a proper daily driver? Or should you treat it like The King of Cool treated Neile Adams and motor on to something else?

The Oris ChronOris Date emulates the 70’s style and feel of the brand’s beloved ChronOris chronographs.

When I spotted the ChronoOris in the case at JB Hudson in Minneapolis I was drawn to it the same way that I’m drawn to broken German sh*tboxes on Craigslist. The orange accents, the dial design, THAT BRACELET – the ChronOris is an uncommonly well done example of the current taste for “modern vintage” sports watches.

Oris ChronOris orange bits

Slipping the ChronoOris on my wrist was revelatory. The 39mm tonneau-shaped case hits that Goldilocks ideal – juuuust right. At 78 grams and a hair over 12mm thick, the watch sits beautifully on my 8″ wrist.

The ChronoOris draws interested glances and comments from “civilians.” Much of that attention is down to the dial…

Oris ChronOris reflection

This ChronOris Date variant blends a matte black dial with a bright orange second hand and orange-tipped indices. The color’s impact is greater than you’d expect – it adds a bold pop to an otherwise reserved design. Polished hour markers with SuperLumiNova plots provide HID-like legibility day and night.

The dial has two chapter rings. The inner ring marks the seconds. The outer ring rotates. It’s an elapsed time counter, marked with an orange triangle at the 12.

Oris side

The ChronOris Date’s comely dial sits under a double domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The crystal is recessed into the case so that the slope of the dome is perfectly matched to the slope of the tonneau case.

From the side, the crystal and case form a smooth and elegant line that gently drops off towards the bracelet. This form – accented by the brushed sunburst finishing on the case – makes the ChronOris Date feel both organic and vintage.

Though the Oris ChronOris is available on various leather straps, the bracelet is the star player. The links’ polished centers project a vintage Beads of Rice vibe that elevates the whole watch.

Oris ChronOris in Mercedes

Though not quite as comfortable as the standout efforts from brands like Grand Seiko, the Oris bracelet has surprisingly thin satin-finished links. The two-button clasp offers five micro-adjustment holes, and extra links can be quickly and easily screwed in, should they be necessary.

For me to truly appreciate a watch as a daily driver, it has to use materials, finishes and forms that make it nearly transparent. In short, I want it to feel so good that I forget I’m wearing it.

Judged by that metric, Oris put down one quick lap with the ChronOris Date. The size, the shape and the finishing are perfectly judged. Like a watch from the 1960’s or 70’s, the ChronOris date feels like it was designed by a human being, rather than in the cold confines of CAD tool like SolidWorks.

The ChronOris Date is powered by a Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement.  Beating at 4Hz with a 38-hour power reserve, the Swiss workhorse is nothing fancy. But it gets the job done, with a power reserve of at least a couple of days.

You may ask why a watch called the ChronOris doesn’t have a chronograph movement. While Oris offers several retro-flavored ChronOris chronographs, all of them are housed in larger and thicker cases. They don’t feel as “right” on-wrist as the ChronOris Date. But feeling right leads to a critical trade-off . . .

With its rotating inner bezel – and no other complications – the ChronOris Date is useful as a motor sports watch for one thing: measuring up to one minute of elapsed time. Yes, it’s an accurate time keeper with a nicely integrated date window. Yes, it has vintage style in spades. But if you’re looking to time a full lap you’re SOL.

Plymouth Prowler

So, in the end, the ChronOris Date is the Plymouth Prowler of motorsports watches: gorgeous retro styling, shockingly easy to live with and extremely charismatic. A lot of show and not much go; you’re not going to want to take either to the track for some hot lapping.

I’m OK with that. When it comes to style I’m a fake-it-’til-you-make-it type. I’ll choose good looks and purity of design over perfect functionality. It’s why I drive one of my Sacco-designed Mercedes-Benzes to the office rather than my perfectly functional Toyota 4Runner.

Beautiful things are beautiful to use even if they aren’t quite perfect. That’s why we have garages that can hold more than one car, and drawers that hold more than one watch. And it’s why I’m wearing a Oris ChronOris Date to work today.

Model: Oris ChronOris Date (ref. 01 733 7737 4054-07 8 19 01)
Price: $1950

SPECIFICATIONS:

Case: Stainless steel with screw-in caseback
Crown: One push-pull for time and date setting, one screw-down for operating rotating inner bezel
Bezel: Internal rotating with 60 seconds markings
Crystal: Double-domed sapphire with internal AR coating
Bracelet: Multi-piece stainless steel with folding clasp
Movement: Oris 733 (base Sellita SW200-1), automatic winding with date
Power Reserve: 38 hours
Weight: 78 grams
Water resistance: 10 bar

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Design * * * * *
Boldly vintage-inspired looks with thoughtful design elements.

Legibility * * * * 
Crisp polished indicators, bold hands, great lume and a date window that doesn’t look tacked on.

Comfort * * * * *
Melts into your wrist (in the best way possible).

Overall * * * *
Not a true motorsports watch but a classy, comfortable retro-styled timepiece.

-40-

TTAW is a fully independent watch website.
No considerations provided for this review.

3 comments

  1. I’d have believed it was vintage. I don’t know why the centered and differently knurled crowns have such appeal. The name makes me think ora pro nobis, latin for ‘pray for us.’

    1. Agreed. The shape and the detailing is not subtle in it’s vintage styling. Kind of miraculous that Oris is even building watches like the ChronOris line, really. You can get a variety of watches that are in vintage looking in all ways, yet have all the finishing quality and reliability of a modern watch. Total win!

  2. I don’t agree about the bezel, at all, it’s every bit as useful as any other rotating bezel,
    and would commonly be used to keep track of minutes. And it’s way cooler than an
    ordinary rotating bezel. Plus, it’s legible, many chronographs are not, especially while
    driving…

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