January 31, 2022
by Ariel Adams
Swiss independent brand Oris has been on a roll lately with bronze watches, a niche that it has found success in. Over the last several years, the watch industry has embraced bronze as a material for watch cases, and in some instances like these Oris watches, as a bracelet material as well. Today, Oris introduces a new collection of its Big Crown Pointer Date watches, featuring both a bronze case and matching bronze bracelet. The watches are handsome and offer an intriguing alternative to steel or gold, along with being a solid mid-priced option, given the use of sourced Swiss Made automatic movements.
From a purely practical perspective, bronze is a rather subpar material for watch cases. Compared to stainless steel, it’s softer, weaker, and discolors over time. That said, bronze has personality, precisely due to all of its imperfections. In addition, it has a warm color that is akin to gold, while being more interesting than plated or colored steel. Bronze changes color as it ages, and for this reason, a lot of people like it, since its wearing experience isn’t predictable. The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date line is no stranger to bronze cases, and the 40mm cases of these new models follow the classic look of the series with strong tapering lugs and that instantly recognizable fluted bezel. Although this isn’t the first time this case has been made in bronze, the warm material changes up the personality of the Big Crown Pointer Date in a striking way, playing up the vintage character of the design and reinforcing some of its quirkier aspects. One new quirk, however, is the bronze crown at 3 o’clock. Rather than the soft pinkish alloy used for the case, Oris uses a different bronze with a vibrant orange tone, leading to come notable visual mismatch on the wrist. While this may have something to do with different strengths or wear resistances necessary for a heavily handled part like the crown, it’s a touch jarring at first glance. Once this case develops some patina, however, this two-tone look might well soften. Despite this screw-down crown, however, these cases offer only 50 meters of water resistance.
Naturally, one of the biggest draws for this new series of Oris Big Crown Pointer Date models is its all-bronze bracelet. Oris has tried the bronze bracelet concept before with the Divers Sixty-Five line, but this is the first time the Big Crown Pointer Date gets the same treatment. What really sets this apart from the Diver Sixty-Five iteration, though, has to do with the difficulty of making a bracelet fully out of bronze in the first place. Since bronze is a softer metal, machining each individual link in a bracelet for a uniform fit can be trickier than with steel, which brands are well used to shaping. Besides that, there is the patina factor to consider. Patina actually grows on the outside of a bronze surface, and as this layer gets thicker, it can potentially make bracelet links sticky as tolerances shrink. Lastly, there’s the problem that bronze patina can rub off with friction, and nobody wants a green ring of patina on their skin. The Divers Sixty-Five bracelet’s three-link structure made each of these problems simpler to solve, but the multi-link design Oris uses here has many more moving parts and offers far more places for patina to hide and build up. Oris solves most of these problems with a patina-inhibiting coating applied to the underside of the bracelet, but the level of machining on this bracelet is impressive on its own, as well. On the wrist, it definitely grabs attention, but it also calls attention to one other difference between steel and bronze: weight. Bronze is about 10 percent heavier than stainless steel by volume, and while this difference isn’t as great as a gold-cased watch would be, some wearers will probably notice this extra weight after a day of heavy wear.
Oris equips this new bronze Big Crown Pointer Date with four unique dial colors, all designed to play off the warm tones of the bronze case. The series’ cathedral hands, rounded Arabic numerals, and railroad pointer date track have always taken well to color, and these new designs are no exception. It isn’t often that a red dial is the subtlest in a watch lineup, but the deep muted oxblood red Oris uses here gives this design a mature and sophisticated personality. The sage green dial, on the other hand, stands out more sharply against the bronze backdrop and plays well with the current ongoing green dial trend. For those who like heavier patina on their bronze watches, this green should complement a full coat of verdigris well. Although the watch world is full of blue dials, the matte slate blue Oris uses for this series is somehow both brighter and more reserved than most blue dials. It’s a color that feels well-aged right out of the box and offers a classic blue and orange contrast with the bronze tones of the case and hands. In some ways, though, the brown dial model is the real standout of the bunch. This is a rich, detailed, almost caramel-like color, with a look like an extreme case of tropical dial patina. On top of this, the lower contrast with the case gives the brown dial a nicely cohesive look on the wrist but remains easily legible.
Oris uses the Oris 754 movement to power these Big Crown Pointer Date models. The Selitta SW200-1 based Oris 754 has been a backbone of Oris’ lineup for many years, but as more of its models move to in-house movements, this design is starting to feel a little antiquated. Power reserve is a middling 38 hours at a 28,800 bph beat rate. On the bright side, however, this sourced movement helps to keep costs down, and the signature red Oris winding rotor is always an eye-catching addition through the sapphire display caseback.
Although bronze has its own set of drawbacks, it undoubtedly brings a unique personality to watch designs, and the new bronze Oris Big Crown Pointer Date watches are no exception. With intriguing dial colors and impressively made bronze bracelets, these are watches that stand out in a crowd and should age well as these cases and bracelets develop patina. All four of these Oris Big Crown Pointer date models are available now through authorized dealers. Oris prices each of these models at 2,400 CHF as of press time. To learn more, visit Oris’ website.