Being an independent brand grants Oris the freedom to explore and foster creativity without undue caution. The latest release from the Swiss manufacture is based on the contemporary and well-engineered ProPilot Calibre 400, unveiled by the watchmakers of Hölstein last year. However, this iteration presents a distinct dial, which, despite its vibrant appearance, is crafted without a drop of paint or a single pigment. Developed over two years in collaboration with a research lab affiliated with ETH Zürich (a university for science and technology since 1855), it harnesses the phenomenon of light interference. With the assistance of laser technology on the titanium surface, the new Oris ProPilot Calibre 400 Laser truly shines, albeit in a uniquely different manner.
The mesmerizing play of light interference is something we’ve all encountered… think soap bubbles or the radiance of oil films on water. Even holograms rely on the interference of light to conjure three-dimensional images. As discovered by Thomas Young, an early 19th-century physicist, light behaves as a wave rather than a stream of particles. Under specific circumstances, multiple light waves interact, causing their combined amplitudes to either enhance or diminish. In simpler terms, when two waves meet, their amplitudes intertwine, strengthening some crests and troughs while cancelling out others.
The new Oris ProPilot Calibre 400 Laser takes the concept of interference of light to watchmaking. Its dial, a display of many colours, owes its enchanting effect to a laser treatment that transforms the titanium surface. This treatment manipulates the reflected light waves to contain a specific spectrum of visible light, creating a captivating impression of colour. Richard Siegrist, Oris’s product development manager, explains the process: “Normal light contains all the colours of the visible spectrum. If a certain range, such as the longer red waves, is removed, only the medium green and shorter blue waves are reflected. It’s colour creation by addition. We’ve also added a second layer that splits the visible light into its components and creates a shimmering rainbow effect. How you see this depends on your viewing angle.”
Indeed, the viewing angle becomes a portal to a kaleidoscope of hues, transforming the ProPilot Calibre 400 Laser dial from dark to violet and from green to bright white. It’s almost impossible not to succumb to the wrist movement frenzy, eager to capture every subtle colour shift. While the monochromatic grey dial of the previous year’s ProPilot Calibre 400 was commendable, this new edition exudes an even more pronounced engineer’s watch aesthetic – too bad the name’s already taken.
The 39mm multi-piece titanium case, complete with a stylish knurled bezel and a sizable ribbed screw-down crown guarded with precision, remains a stalwart feature. Anti-magnetic properties and the substantial 120-hour power reserve of the proprietary automatic calibre 400 (the movement is visible through the transparent caseback) also persist. Not present is the date indication, a deliberate choice by Oris to make room for the uninterrupted rainbow-on-your-wrist effect.
Laser technology, though a different process, is extended to “drawing” the logo, elongated indices, minutes track, and dial text, including the model name and the 5-day power reserve reference. The process yields an effect that makes all the markings appear meticulously applied or printed, adding another layer of technological beauty to this timepiece. The hour and minute hands are crafted from steel and filled with black Super-LumiNova for an even greater dramatic effect. A three-link titanium bracelet with a folding clasp completes the look of the new Oris ProPilot Calibre 400 Laser.
The watch is now available; the price is CHF 4,800. For more information, please visit www.oris.ch.