It’s no secret that smaller case sizes are back in a big way, which is something we’re pretty pleased about here at MONOCHROME. A particular favourite is the new Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Bronze (also available in steel), which was introduced at Baselworld last month and boasts a gorgeous bronze case that measures just 36mm. This model came as somewhat of a surprise to us and so we were quite keen to see how this smaller diameter would wear on the wrist. Suffice to say we were not disappointed.
Oris has a well-documented history in the world of aviation, having made its first pilot’s pocket watch in the early 1910s. This was followed by the company’s first pilot’s wristwatch in 1917, and eventually the creation of the Oris Big Crown in 1938, which, as the name suggests, featured an oversized crown so that gloved airmen could adjust their watches quickly and easily.
Considered by many to be one of the brand’s most iconic models, the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date was first introduced by the brand in 1984, in direct response to the carnage caused by the quartz revolution. Featuring a smooth, round case and tapered lugs, coin-edged bezel, oversized crown, and an easy-to-read dial with central pointer hand indicating the date, this early design proved so successful that it has remained largely unchanged over the last 30-plus years.
The latest version of the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date is offered in a very attractive bronze case – the first non-limited-edition model from the brand to use this material. Destined to develop its own unique patina over time, the watch boasts a gorgeous original light green dial, inspired by a colour from Le Corbusier’s Architectural Polychromy and is finished on a naturally tanned light brown leather strap.
On the wrist, the watch is surprisingly wearable. There were some concerns from the MONOCHROME team that 36mm would be simply too small, but these were soon allayed once the watch was strapped on. It’s certainly not something we’re used to seeing from the brand known for its over-engineered dive watches, but it really works, especially with the Pointer Date’s understated vintage aesthetic. The only drawback is that the strap is quite narrow at the buckle end, giving it a slightly feminine look. This is easily resolved by changing to a new strap and given the watch’s highly accessible price there will certainly be money left over in the budget for that.
The layout of the dial is clean and easy to read, with the hours, minutes and seconds displayed centrally. Gold-plated and lume-filled cathedral hands – for the hours and minutes – really add to the vintage vibe and contrast beautifully against the distinctive green dial. Around the periphery of the dial is the date track, with the central pointer hand indicating the current date.
It’s a simple design, with no superfluous details and yet, on the wrist, it is very eye-catching, in spite of the relatively diminutive case size. Framing the dial is the familiar coin-edge bezel, giving the watch just that extra touch of character. And of course, completing the package is the oversized crown, which is still nicely proportioned relative to the smaller case size.
Inside is the Oris Calibre 754, which is essentially a slightly-modified Sellita SW 200-1. This relatively unremarkable yet reliable automatic movement beats at a frequency of 4Hz and offers a 38-hour power reserve. Visible through the sapphire window on the back, with its distinctive red oscillating weight, it is framed by a steel case back (for hypoallergenic reasons, as bronze oxide can cause allergic reactions).
Priced at a very accessible CHF 1,800, the new Oris Big Crown Pointer Date in bronze is an interesting and attractive option for those looking for a vintage-inspired pilot’s watch that will age well over time. In addition to this 36mm bronze edition, the redesigned Oris Big Crown Pointer Date is now available in steel, with multiple dial colours (black, blue, light green) and in two sizes (36mm and 40mm). More details on oris.ch.