December 7, 2021
by Ariel Adams
Swiss Made Oris watches used its participation at Dubai Watch Week 2021 to introduce some new products, including this Big Crown Pointer Date Calibre 403 watch, to the delight of collectors. This is the first time Oris’ exclusive calibre 400 series of movements is used in a Big Crown Pointer Date watch, which is a historic icon of the brand (originally introduced in 1938) that has been popular for decades. As the name implies, these watches were born of aviation timepiece instruments that had large crowns for easy winding, and a hand that pointed to the date (versus a date window).
The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Calibre 403 debuts as the reference 01 403 7776 4065-07 5 19 11 in steel with a rich blue dial. There is also a 250 piece limited-edition model known as the Big Crown Pointer Date Calibre 403 Holstein Edition 2021 (reference 01 403 7776 4083-Set), which has a medium-gray dial and matching strap). In my opinion, further versions will come in the future given the already impressive popularity of the new Big Crown Pointer Date Calibre 403, which was earlier debuted on aBlogtoWatch here. Not only will other dial colors be available, but I suspect that Oris will also produce the watch in additional case sizes. Many watch fans applauded the modest 38mm-wide size of the 01 403 7776 4065-07 5 19 11, which is a bit smaller than similar modern sport watches. At the same time, other enthusiasts felt that the 38mm-wide size was too small for their wrists and requested a 40 or 42mm-wide size. There are just too many different size preferences out there for Oris to please all tastes with one case size. The solution, of course, is simply to produce multiple versions of the same watch in the sizes the market demands. If the Big Crown Pointer Date Calibre 403 proves popular enough, and Oris feels that additional case sizes are merited, then I believe that is what will happen in the future.
For now, the 38mm-wide size is proportionally attractive and well-suited to those who regularly wear shirt sleeves or simply prefer a more medium-sized sports watch. The polished and brushed steel case has a dressy quality, which implies that Oris has more formal (versus sport) ambitions for the watch. I agree with those who say that the polished bezel (versus a coined-edge bezel on previous Big Crown Pointer Date models) is a nice touch, though I do feel that the retro-style domed sapphire crystal produces a bit too much glare for my liking. This is a challenge for watchmakers because, on the one hand, the shape of the crystal is similar to that of acrylic crystals of old, but the shape also makes it very susceptible to glare and, thus, visual distortion. It doesn’t affect legibility all that much, but boy, are these watch dials hard to get a clean picture of.
Water-resistant to 50 meters, the case also has an exhibition caseback, where you can admire the calibre 403 version of the calibre 400 movement series from Oris. These are designed by Oris and produced for the brand by specialist supplier partners in Switzerland. One of the most fun elements of the movement is that if you look at it the right way, you can make out a bear’s face. Not just any bear, but the Oris bear (a sort of unofficial company mascot). To see it, start with the wheels of the double mainspring barrels as “ears” and the accompanying ruby palettes as “eyes.” The axis point of the automatic rotor would be part of the bear’s “nose.” The calibre 403 movement is best known for its five-day power reserve. It also operates at 4Hz and, in this configuration, offers the time, subsidiary seconds, and centrally mounted date indicator hand. Above, I mentioned the limited-edition “Holstein Edition 2021” version of the watch that does not have a display caseback, but rather has a motif of the Oris bear in relief on the steel caseback.
Interestingly, Oris has produced pointer date watches in the past on which the date ring counts in the opposite direction. Not that a clockwise direction for the date is correct or incorrect, but from a collector’s standpoint, it is interesting to know that Oris Pointer Date watches have had the hands moving in different directions. I am typically not a fan of pointer date watches because the additional hand seems to clutter up the dial and remove from the eye’s ability to easily spot the hour and minute hands. For that matter, I often feel the same way about most traditional GMT watches. That said, in this instance, Oris opted for a highly polished hand that mostly blends in with the dial and a bright red arrow at the end that points to the date. The outcome is that mostly the red arrow is visible, while the rest of the hand blends in with the dial. The same is true for the hour and minute hands, but the thick Super-LumiNova lume-painted sections in the middle of the hands else ensure good legibility.
The unpretentious ring of Arabic hour numerals around the dial is also lume-painted and an attractive part of the overall composition. Oris did a good job in making the watch feel modern but also very much inspired by vintage timepieces in both wearing style and size. That’s good news for a large population of watch lovers who are specifically seeking a design such as this, especially because it houses a high-performance modern mechanical movement.
Attached to the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Calibre 403 watch is a simple (but comfortable) black leather strap. I think a lot of people will enjoy the watch if it’s paired to a blue cow or reptile leather strap, as well, though black is clearly the slightly more conservative option. Price for the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date Calibre 403 reference 01 403 7776 4065-07 5 19 11 watch is $3,400 USD. Learn more at the Oris website here.