The Ophion OPH 786’s traditional aesthetic begins with the dial, but goes much further than that. Not only did Ophion not opt for a common movement like a Miyota or an ETA, but they also redesigned the bridges and finishing of the movement to echo that of pocket watches from the 1700s. The movement, called the TT 718, is originally from the Swiss manufacturer Technotime, and the view through the sapphire crystal exhibition window proudly fills almost the entire caseback of the watch. As a quick aside, the use of sapphire crystal on the caseback is something mostly found on relatively higher-end watches and one more thing that adds value to the whole package. As noted in the release article on the Ophion OPH 786, Technotime was a relatively small movement manufacturer that was acquired recently by Soprod, but they continue to produce the same TT 718 movements for Ophion. They even made their own hairsprings, which is quite uncommon.
The TT 718 is a hand-wound movement operating at 4Hz with a fantastic power reserve of 120 hours via two barrels. Further, it promises an accuracy close to or better than COSC standards (though it is not certified). Ophion says it should ideally be wound daily to full capacity for best timekeeping, and a stop lever makes a sound to prevent overwinding. These specs alone are impressive, but the bridge design and finishing are customized to match the aesthetic theme of the overall watch and for use in the OPH 786 only, something rarely seen in watches at this price level. And we haven’t even come to the lovely finishing yet. The bridges are given a hammered finish that the brand says is meant to mimic the texture achieved by mercury evaporation found on pocket watch movements from the 1700s. It is much finer than, say, the finish of these “hammer tone” G-Shock MR-G watches and, from a distance at least, looks a bit like the “frosted” finish on this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. More accurately, it is also reminiscent of the finish found on the movements of many of Greubel Forsey’s zillion-dollar watches, and in the right light, it sparkles like a Michael Jackson glove.
Softening the edges are somewhat steep machine-polished bevels, an important part of giving the movement a more refined look. The screw heads and screw sinks are also polished, with the jewels and wheels adding some color. In stark contrast to the hammered texture, the independent balance bridge is given a brushed finish. All this and other elements like the two large barrels stand out against the sandblasted finish of the mainplate below. Even considering all these nice little touches, machine finishing is generally expected at this price, but we are told that the “grenaille” hammered texture of the bridges is indeed done by hand.
The work put into both the dial and movement creates the idea that the Ophion OPH 786 offers far more than a superficial approach, and I can’t really emphasize enough how much this adds to the watch’s sense of value and the wearer’s enjoyment. That might be the main attraction, but we wouldn’t want to overlook the excellent case. The case is solidly built (water resistance of 50m) and fully polished, with rounded edges that flow into the curve of the sapphire crystal, achieving a smooth, pebble-like presence. This is actually one of the first things I noticed upon handling the OPH 786. The screwed-on bezel supports the dial itself and overlaps it slightly at the edge, helping to avoid any gap between the dial and inner bezel. I feel that Ophion really nailed it with the case design, as it feels appropriate with the classic pocket watch theme of the dial and movement, but when the three elements come together, the watch feels totally modern and balanced. In fact, while traditional and conservative might apt adjectives to describe the OPH 786, I wouldn’t call it vintage or even retro in its style.
The elegantly shaped and polished screwed lugs are as harmonious as every other part of the watch and help make the case more interesting. Although I’m not usually into leather straps much and had the idea of putting the Ophion OPH 786 on an aftermarket mesh bracelet, the Spanish-made straps (20mm lug width) are so nice and high-quality that I’m inclined to change my mind. Yes, even the straps are good. With a measurement of 39mm (not including the crown) and a thickness of 10.35mm (including the domed sapphire crystal), the Ophion OPH 786 wears slightly larger than it sounds on paper, in my experience, which is likely due to the longish lug-to-lug length of 48mm. The size should make it wearable on a decent range of wrist sizes without appearing at all small or feminine.
Although it could be interpreted as welcome restraint, certain parts of the Ophion OPH 786 being left unbranded is a potential missed opportunity. The Ophion name/logo appear only on the dial, caseback, and underside of the straps. It could also have been appropriate on the crown as well as on the movement and buckle if done tastefully and subtly, especially since these (except the buckle) are all original to Ophion. One more thing I would hope for on future versions is anti-reflective coating on the outside of the crystal, which might also help with the legibility issues of the two darker dials—and the brand says they are indeed considering it. As long as I’m trying to think of possible improvements, power reserve indicators are always handy for manually wound watches, but now we’re getting a bit carried away.
Once again, I feel that Ophion is offering a lot for the price, and I’m not even sure how they pull it off—I suspect that their profit margin is pretty narrow. One thing that consumers should keep in mind about microbrand prices, however, is that they are usually not competing with the big brands’ sticker prices but instead often with their “final price” (i.e., their “street price” or gray market price). After all, people buying microbrand watches online are surely savvy enough to shop around. Microbrands’ typical direct-to-consumer sales model is part of how they can keep prices down, but it also means that you won’t find discounts elsewhere—in other words, they might not be quite as competitive as they first appear when initially compared to the big brands’ official retail prices. This all probably goes without saying, but I thought it would be useful to point out. Even with that in mind, I will continue to assert that Ophion is offering not only a great value proposition, but also something quite unique and interesting.
The thing about the Ophion OPH 786 that I most appreciate and want to underscore is also the most intangible and difficult to express, but isn’t that often the case with the best watches? That is the remarkable cohesiveness of the OPH 786 as a complete package that is quite rare to find among watches anywhere near this price level. While we’re not looking at a lot of hand decoration and totally in-house movements, no part of the Ophion OPH 786 feels unintentional, lazy, or “standard.” Even though Ophion uses traditional, conservative watch design elements, the OPH 786 is anything but boring and, at least to me, a great deal of creativity shines through.
It would actually be possible to go on about the Ophion OPH 786—and this is in fact one of the longest articles I’ve written—but you now hopefully have the necessary information to decide whether it’s a good value and fits your tastes. My review might have been downright effusive at times, but I honestly couldn’t have written anything else, as it’s exciting to have a chance to introduce this watch and brand to the aBlogtoWatch audience. The Ophion OPH 786 granular gray watch has a price of €1,890, and the OPH 786 guilloche dial watches in silver or blue are both €2,190 before taxes and shipping, and each comes on a range of strap options. ophion-watches.com
>Model: OPH 786
>Price: €1,890 for the granular gray and €2,190 for the guilloche dial versions
>Size: 39mm wide, 10.4mm thick, 48mm lug to lug
>Would reviewer personally wear it: YES!
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: People who admire the high-end independent watchmaking greats and traditional styles but can’t afford to own one.
>Best characteristic of watch: Feels overall so cohesive and well thought-out, and is executed with great care down to the details.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Legibility is not ideal on the dark-dialed versions.