Monochrome Watches
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Oris Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter (Specs and Price)

| By Frank Geelen | 4 min read |
Oris Big Crown Pro Pilot Altimeter

Last weekend Oris introduced the world’s first automatic mechanical altimeter wrist watch. When you’re thinking that this sounds like something you’ve heard before, you’re almost right. The Breva Génie 02 was actually the first mechanical watch with an altimeter. However that is a manually wound watch, and the new Oris is indeed the world’s first AUTOMATIC mechanical watch with an altimeter. And with a Swiss retail price of CHF 3.300, the Oris is roughly CHF 115.000 cheaper.

Yes, the difference in price is quite an impressive number. However that’s the difference between the purest form of Haute Horlogerie, as offered by Breva, and the more mass produced wrist watches from Oris. Yet both use aneroid capsules for measuring variations in air pressure, which is used for the the altimeter indications. This thoroughbred pilot’s watch from Oris – they have a long history of making pilot’s watches – has now been equipped with a suitable, and for pilots very useful, complication.

Oris Big Crown Pro Pilot Altimeter

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Last year Oris already surprised with a dive watch with a very pragmatic depth gauge. It was, and probably still is, the most pragmatic depth gauge in a wrist watch we’ve ever seen, and therefore we love the Oris Aquis Depth Gauge. Now, with the new Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter, Oris did it again. For a very friendly price, and with a pragmatic solution, they’ve created a very useful altimeter wrist watch. Of course pilots can use it, however it will prove to function just fine when you go mountain climbing, hiking, or skiing.

Oris Big Crown Pro Pilot Altimeter

Before the altimeter indicates the correct height, you will need to calibrate and set the system. First you need to unscrew the crown at 4 o’clock. That will allow air to enter the case, which also means that the case is not water proof any more! Oris made a red ring around the crown, that is only visible once the crown is unscrewed, to remind you that the watch is not water proof when the crown is unscrewed. Although the venting crown will allow water to enter the case, it also prevents moisture from entering the watch using a membrane made of PTFE, which creates a vapor barrier.

To set the altimeter to your current height, the crown has to be pulled to the second position. The altitude scale is around the outer dial ring; it can measure altitude up to 15,000 feet or 4,500 metres (two models have been produced, one with a scale in feet, one in metres). An air pressure scale is recessed between the altimeter scale and the central dial, and the altimeter indicator, with a double yellow stripe, hovers over it, between the central dial and the altimeter scale. The watch shows the current altitude via the yellow indicator, and the corresponding air pressure via the red indicator.

Oris Big Crown Pro Pilot Altimeter

As soon as you’ve set it to the correct height, the crown can be put back to position 1 (still not water proof.) When you start ascending or descending the altimeter will move accordingly to indicate your new height. Once the altimeter is no longer required, the crown can be returned to position 0 by screwing it down, resealing the watch case and ensuring it is once again water-resistant to 10 bar (100 metres.)

The Oris Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter features an extremely useful complication. Useful for mountaineers, hikers, climbers, skiers, and of course pilots. However this watch will be tell you the correct height when you’re in an airliner, because you’ll be in a pressure controlled cabin.

Oris Big Crown Pro Pilot Altimeter

The stainless steel case is 47mm in diameter and features the recognizable coin-edge bezel and big crown, that all Oris Big Crown models have had since the very first was introduced in 1938. Inside ticks a Swiss automatic movement, based on the Sellita calibre SW200, that delivers 38 hours of power reserve when fully wound. It comes on a textile strap with stainless steel folding clasp, or with a leather strap or metal bracelet.

Specifications – Oris Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter

  • Oris automatic mechanical movement Cal. 733, based on Sellita SW200 with date window at 3 o’clock
  • Integrated Swiss mechanical barometric altimeter and barometer movement (developed with the specialist Thommen)
  • 47mm stainless steel case, water-resistant to 100 meters
  • Sapphire crystal domed and with anti-reflective coating on both sides
  • Screwed case back
  • Screw-in stainless steel crowns. Patented Oris altimeter adjustment and venting crown, incl. a PTFE vapour barrier
  • Black dial with printed Arabic numerals filled with Super-LumiNova, same as hour and minute hands
  • Altimeter hand made from laminated carbon fibre

Retail price will be € 2.900 Euro with textile strap, or € 3.050 Euro with metal bracelet, when it becomes available in September of this year. We think that Oris did an amazing job, offering such a useful complication for such a friendly price.

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5 responses

  1. Oris… One of the best kept secrets… Despite it’s recent gain in popularity over the past five years or so they still seem to be one of the least populary watches around and yet one of the better considering the price point. I own a TT1, F1 Williams LTD Edition Chrono, and BC4. Their new line up is definitely different from the conservative understated beginnings but nonetheless quite attractive.

  2. And yet the Citizen Altichron can read your altitude more than twice as high, is waterproof while the altimeter is operating, is made of titanium, and costs about a quarter of the price of this watch.

    I think that 4,500 meters really isn’t enough in an altimeter watch.

  3. Citizen Nighthawk is my favorite “beater” watch. I’ve owned it for about fourteen years and it has taken more abuse and has never been serviced. I love it. I wear when working on cars or in the garden and it takes a licking and keeps on ticking. (Sorry Timex)

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