It’s no secret that the modern watch industry in 2023 is a more colorful place than it’s been at any other point in recent memory, with vibrant and varied dial options across nearly every section of the market. Despite this seeming variety, the vast majority of these dial colors are achieved with the same simple techniques — either paint (lacquer, enamel, or otherwise) or, in more exotic cases, semi-precious stones or gem setting. However, there is another way to create color on a surface that uses no pigment at all: optical interference. Found in everything from soap bubbles to certain species of beetles, optical interference creates the appearance of color on a surface by shaping it in such a way that light waves across a certain part of the visible spectrum are destroyed, while others are reflected. Oris is the first brand to bring this concept into the world of horology, delivering an ethereal rainbow gradient pattern using nothing but precise laser etching. The new Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 Laser blends this impressive, visually arresting technical breakthrough with its robust, ultra-modern pilot watch platform, creating a dynamic statement sports watch that expands the current horological “color revolution” into entirely new territory.
The Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 Laser’s 39mm wide titanium case is functionally identical to the rest of its stablemates. Placing this wild new dial concept in a familiar context is a wise decision by Oris, particularly one as futuristic as the ProPilot X. The sharp, planar form is aggressive without feeling overdesigned, and the fully brushed, unchamfered surfaces help the watch to remain largely under the radar on the wrist (outside of that dial, of course). As with previous iterations, the jet turbine-inspired split bezel remains a natural focal point, as does the sapphire display caseback. Oris rates the watch for a solidly sporting 100 meters of water resistance, thanks in part to its screw-down crown.
Of course, the main draw of the new Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 Laser is its avant-garde titanium dial. Believe it or not, the entire dial surface visible under the sapphire crystal is bare titanium, with all of the various colors, scales, indices, and dial text achieved through microscopic laser etching of the titanium surface. At first glance, the effect is almost dreamlike, with a smooth, borderless spectrum running from pale magenta-red at 3 o’clock to violet at 9 o’clock. In between is a complete spectrum of hues, which Oris accentuates with deep vertical brushing. In fully saturated guise, there’s no doubt the rainbow gradient effect would come off as garish or overpowering, but the pale, misty quality of the colors here goes a long way towards softening the visual impact. With that said, this effect still won’t suit every taste or situation, but in the right environment, it’s stunning. Equally impressive from a technical perspective is that each of the apparently printed indices and dial text are laser-etched, as well. These dark gray components even catch light in the same manner as raised glossy print, but the effect is completely — albeit convincingly — simulated. On the other hand, the brushed angular alpha handset with its dark gray lume is a ProPilot X series staple, but the simplicity of these components keeps the focus squarely on the dial surface during normal wear. To maximize the visual real estate for this first-of-its-kind dial effect, Oris renders the ProPilot X Calibre 400 in a no-date format.
As the name suggests, the Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 Laser is powered by the brand’s in-house Calibre 400 automatic movement. Introduced in 2020 as a new flagship powerplant for the brand, the Calibre 400 remains a performance leader in the field with a massive 120-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate, along with a chronometer-grade stated accuracy of only -3/+5 seconds per day. In terms of finishing, the Calibre 400 remains simple and businesslike with matte blasted three-quarter plates and a signed, vertically brushed cutout rotor. To complete the design, Oris fits the ProPilot X Calibre 400 Laser with the line’s signature sculpted titanium three-link bracelet. With prominently sloped outer links and bold, distinctively faceted end links, this bracelet gives the ProPilot X Calibre 400 Laser much of its overall character, and it’s both lightweight and exceedingly flexible on the wrist. When coupled with the bracelet’s oversized, aircraft seatbelt-style clasp, it makes for an easy, comfortable wearing experience.
As brands across the industry rush to introduce more colorful dials into their catalogs, Oris has taken things a step further and created an entirely new way to add color to watch dials. Beyond the strength of its innovation, the new Oris ProPilot x Calibre 400 Laser is one of the most striking, evocative releases from the brand to date, with an unlikely blend of modern sporting aggression and ephemeral, dreamlike color. The Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 Laser is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for this watch stands at $5,200 USD as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.