Often regarded as one of the best values for the money when it comes to luxury Swiss watches, Oris has continued to go from strength to strength in recent years. These days, the brand’s portfolio is split into four ‘Worlds’ – Motor Sport, Culture, Diving, Aviation, and it is within the Aviation series where you will find a diverse range of pilot’s watches spanning the ultra-modern to the wistfully traditional.
Among those vintage throwbacks lives the Big Crown Pointer Date collection. These unashamedly retro creations are a glorious reimagining of the brand’s very first pilot’s watches from the 1930s, complete with the brand’s signature calendar function. A pointer date is a particularly elegant method of displaying the day of the month, and one that doesn’t muddy up the symmetry of the dial yet is quick and easy to read. It is a distinctive feature and has gone on to become the calling-card complication for the Hölstein-based manufacturer. Below, we take a closer look at the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date collection.
Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Review and Guide Table of Contents:
I. About the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Collection
I. The Modern Oris Pointer Date
III. The Pointer Date Complication
IV. Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Options
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About The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Collection
In terms of getting the most amount of watch for the least amount of money, it takes a lot to beat Oris. These days, the brand may be enjoying more attention for its extensive range of dive models, specifically the state-of-the-art Aquis and the retro-inspired Divers Sixty-Five collections; however, if there is just one name from the past that we can point to (pun totally intended) and say that without it, we might not have modern Oris at all, it is the Big Crown Pointer Date.
The debut version was introduced in 1938 as one of the earliest examples of a dedicated pilot’s watch, and Oris has had a model with the somewhat unorthodox take on the date complication in their portfolio ever since. The latest generation was launched in 2018 to celebrate the original’s 80th anniversary, a range taking in both 36mm and 40mm sizes, all with a host of styling cues designed to give you that warm glow of nostalgia.
The Modern Oris Big Crown Pointer Date
We are used to vintage reissues from manufacturers these days, with many of the big names in the industry dusting off pieces from the archives and adopting classic elements to include on a new release. With Oris’s contribution, they have borrowed from both the initial Big Crown Pointer Date watches from the 30s as well as from those of the dark days of the 1980s, when that period’s version was the only mechanical watch in the company’s lineup amid a sea of quartz movements.
But rather than being a mishmash of disparate features vying for attention, it all comes together into one superbly-shaped combination of the best of both worlds. In addition to the analog date pointer itself, we get the titular oversized crown, included so that early aviators could use it while wearing their similarly enormous gloves in the era’s freezing airplane cockpits. Additionally, the dial numeral font is historically correct, as are the large, beige Super-LumiNova filled cathedral hands and the domed crystal – although it is made from sapphire on the modern versions rather than acrylic.
From the later iterations, Oris has taken the attractive coin-edged bezel and the tapered, curved lugs that hug the wrist, with a brushed finish on top and polished sides for contrast. This combination of features leaves us with a watch capable of serving for both formal and casual wear, while not looking out of place in either role, along with a calendar complication that you will find almost nowhere else.
The Pointer Date Complication
A timepiece which also tells you the date is an extremely useful thing to have. The most widely-used implementation of a date complication – one that is employed by many mechanical watch brands – is to have a number visible through a small window in the dial, most commonly at the three o’clock location. First used by Rolex in 1945, this method gives an easily-read date indication but has long been criticized for throwing off the face’s overall balance, especially if covered by a magnifying lens.
The Oris Pointer Date prints an outer 1—31 scale around the periphery of the dial above the indexes, and adds an extra hand (often finished with a different color tip to help distinguish it from the time-telling hands), which points to the correct date. In that way, the symmetry of the design remains largely unaffected, and it gives the whole watch a clean legibility that is ideal for pilots. Why more brands don’t have watches with pointer date complications in their catalog is a bit of a mystery, but it has become a trademark move for Oris, and one that certainly draws attention from many watch nerds.
The movement in charge is the same for both sizes of the watch, the Sellita SW 200-1, an automatic caliber reworked to add the Pointer Date feature and named the Oris 754. It has a 38-hour power reserve, a frequency of 28,800vph, and it comes complete with the brand’s trademark red winding rotor, which is visible through the display case back.
Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Options
All told, the latest generation of the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date is available in 26 different configurations, all in either stainless steel or bronze, and finished off with a variety of different bracelets and straps. Of those 26 production models, the majority (21 in fact) are in all-steel, a small handful of which have given a bronze top ring to the bezel, providing a nice accent to the fluting.
There are only three of the all-bronze pieces, for now; one in 40mm and two in 36mm. Whether Oris will expand the range in coming years remains to be seen, but it would not be a huge surprise. The metal’s properties are ideal for horology’s current twin obsessions with both vintage styling and watches that are (or that will become) unique. Typically an alloy of copper and tin (often with other metals as well, such as nickel or zinc), bronze develops a natural patina over time as the copper component in it oxidizes. With no two examples ageing in the same way, a bronze watch will eventually become personalized to the wearer. It also has the added benefits of being antimagnetic and highly resistant to seawater corrosion. The one downside to the metal is that it can cause skin irritation in those with a sensitivity to it, so Oris has made the wise decision of fitting its bronze watches with stainless steel backs to avoid any problems.
The current portfolio also houses two special editions. The 80th Anniversary Edition is another bronze piece in 40mm, with a striking forest green dial, commemorating the arrival of the original Big Crown back in the ‘30s. The other is the Roberto Clemente Limited Edition, the only white dial model in the entire collection. The steel 40mm watch has been released as a tribute to the great ball player and humanitarian, the first Latin American to reach 3,000 hits, before his untimely death in a plane crash at the age of just 38. A likeness of Clemente is engraved on the case back and the ‘21’ on the date numerals around the dial is picked out in gold in reference to the number he wore for the entirety of his 18-year career playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Big Crown Pointer Date Dial and Strap Options
As for the standard range, they have been issued with an inventive variety of dial colors that have really captured the imagination. Alongside the more conventional black dials, we get the not-often-seen shades of slate blue, a delicate faded green, and a rich oxblood red. However, not all the colors are offered on both sizes of the watch – for instance, the oxblood dial is found only on the larger models for the moment, while conversely, the light green is exclusively fitted to the smaller variant. Whether that will change in the future, only time will tell.
The 36mm versions are the ones with the real vintage feel, since a 40mm piece would be unthinkably large in the 1930s, even for a pilot’s watch. Consequently, it is the smaller sizes of the Pointer Date that generally receive the more traditional dial colors. Another interesting little detail is the tip of the pointer hand, which is painted in either red or white, depending on which will provide the best contrast with the color of the dial. The bands are a choice between an intricate seven-link steel bracelet or one of several different types of brown or black leather straps, all tanned using an environmentally-friendly natural vegetable process.
However, as always with Oris, the most pleasant surprise comes when finding out the price. You can have this extremely handsome, heritage-rich model powered by a high quality Swiss movement for under $2k at retail, and even less on the secondary market. As an everyday watch that can be worn just about anywhere, it offers an almost unbeatable bang for your buck, with the added bonus of a unique take on the classic date complication.