In 1986, Finland’s Suunto Watches introduced the first dive computer: the SME-ML. At that moment, the traditional mechanical and quartz dive watch was doomed. Divers abandoned the genre for anything other than post-dive preening. Oris stayed the horological course, of course. The Swiss watchmaker has just unleashed the new Oris AquisPro Date Cal 400 for “professional” divers. It differs from standard Aquis models in several important ways . . .
First, it’s gorgeous – no less a quintessential dive watch design than the Rolex Submariner. It brings to mind the old joke about Michelangelo’s work process. How did the sculptor make his David? He bought a block a marble and removed the bits that weren’t David. How did Oris make this watch? They removed all the bits that aren’t a dive watch.
The black, white and yellow AquisPro Date Cal 400 is the horological equivalent of a Wilson Combat EDC X9 – an anachronistic tool whose beauty, design and highly evolved functionality make it a practical option for everyday use.
Again, if you’re really diving, you want a dive computer. (If you’re really in combat, you want a rifle.) But if “saturation diving” has as much appeal as HALO parachuting, the new Aquis is more than merely adequate for snorkeling and surface-oriented water sports. Which brings us to AquisPro advantage number two: 1000m water resistance.
A thousand meters undersea is a place where you and this watch will never go (unless you’re in a deep-sea submersible vessel). But just as having a sports car capable of cruising at over 200mph ensures stability at slower speeds, a 1000m water resistant watch eliminates swimming pool and jet ski damage worries. So there is that.
Speaking of over-engineering, the Oris’s bezel reintroduces their glove-friendly, unidirectional Rotation Safety System (says so right there on the side). The ceramic bezel is locked in place until you lift and turn it, and then lock it again. Yup ceramic. Attached to a DLC-coated titanium case.
To make sure the watch doesn’t go diving on its own, it’s equipped with the Oris Safety Anchor. If the titanium clasp fails, two hooks grab the strap. The Aquis also assures user comfort with its Sliding [Sister] Sledge extension system.
Oris ups the ante – on themselves as well as Tudor et al. – with their new Caliber 400. Our main man texastimex spills the proverbial beans on the new engine:
The Caliber 400 is a thoroughly in-house movement, not derivative of the ETA 2824 or its Sellita clones. However, it does have some limitations compared to the competition at this price, like the lack of a free-sprung balance, lack of a full balance bridge, and lack of a silicon hairspring (although the lack of that last feature is likely due to patent issues, not cost savings).
“The New Standard in mechanical watchmaking” bases the boast on the 400’s five-day power reserve, “elevated levels” of anti-magnetism, 10-year warranty and 10-year recommended service intervals.
Other than the watch’s marvelous minimalism, light weight, chronometer-besting accuracy, robust reliability, excellent lume and comfy rubber strap, it’s a piece of crap. Seriously, the black is black, old-school-dive-watch-made-new Oris AquisPro Date Cal 400 is surefire hit, especially (even?) at $4600.
The only downside: it’s a beast. (Big wrist above.) At 49.5mm, legibility isn’t an issue. Door frames are. Given the dial and bezel’s proportionality and lugs shorter than a bull terrier’s attention span, I’m thinking the latest Aquis wears smaller. Hoping? I want to find out.