I’m a big fan of simple, classic, and elegant watches from yesteryear: the Omega Constellation Pie-Pan, Longines Calatrava, Rolex 4222 — simple, elegant and subdued dress watches. However, I also have an appreciation for modern watches that look stylistically towards the future, which is why I was quite happy (and excited) to review the Ophion OPH 960 when I was asked. At first blush, the Ophion OPH 960 seemed to embody the simplicity and class of a vintage dress watch, but in a larger size with an overall modern flair. It also had an interesting movement of which I knew little about — I flat-out needed to see the Ophion OPH 960 watch for myself.
When the package first arrived, I was definitely impressed by the presentation. It comes in a somewhat rustic wooden box that is held shut with a hook latch and lid debossed with their logo. Flip it open and you are greeted by a handsome leather watch roll containing the Ophion OPH 960 along with four sheets of translucent paper containing the schematic drawings of the watch. And yes, I know that you don’t wear the box and papers, but this packaging is well-thought-out and definitely worth a mention.
The watch has a domed warm-grey anthracite dial, which would have been my personal choice, and is adorned with the Ophion logo at 12 o’clock. The logo is what I believe to be a minimalist interpretation of the Greek myth in which Ophion the serpent god entwined his body around a giant egg to incubate and hatch forth the earth and universe. He later had his teeth kicked out and was cast into the underworld (mythology is seldom kind to its cast), but the former portion of the story makes for a less violent and clever rendering of the letter “O” icon above the wordmark. All kidding aside, it’s a simple logo and it tells a story, which makes me feel like Ophion is definitely planning ahead as a brand.
Although the brand appears to be based in Madrid, Spain, the watch itself seems to come from a variety of sources. The movement and hands are made in Switzerland, the strap is produced in Spain, and the case/dial manufacturing and overall assembly are completed in Germany. As many microbrands need to rely on their resourcefulness to get things done, this sort of “decentralized origin story” should come as no surprise.
The dial has long, rectangular applied hour indices that feature a sort of scalloped profile that definitely adds modernity to such a simple design. The minute track at first seemed a bit odd to me, as it is set quite far toward the center and meets up with the inner edge of the hour indices. Moreover, the tip of the minute hand reaches beyond the minute track, yet the lume detail does end where the minute track starts. After wearing the Ophion OPH 960 for a while, I realized that the way the minute hand covers up each marker on the minute track (rather than just pointing to the tip of each line) actually made it easier for me to tell the time at a glance. Was this intended? I believe that is quite possible given the overall attention to detail and the length of the lume application – but either way, it works.
The inner dial ring is smartly brushed, which creates a lovely contrast to the fully polished case, indices, and dauphine hands. It also has very subtle Superluminova C3 hour markers that again add to the modern feel of the Ophion OPH 960 watch. The hands are flat and easy to see against the grey dial, although I’m not so sure how legible they would be against the silver dial I have also seen on the Ophion OPH 960. I do, however, prefer centre-seconds hands to subdials on more classic or dressy style watches because it looks cleaner overall, and I think it is an appropriate choice for this Ophion OPH 960 watch.
The Ophion OPH 960 case is made of 316L stainless steel and, at 42.9mm wide, is definitely sized to more modern tastes. Personally, I would have preferred something around 38mm for a watch like this, although I didn’t find the larger case awkward nor unattractive on my 7.25″ wrist. At just over 10mm in thickness, it slipped easily under my shirt cuff and wore like a charm. Ophion, however, will be releasing an OPH 960S model at 38.9mm sometime in the future, so it would appear I wasn’t alone in the desire for a smaller case. Either way, the fit and finish is superb, and I like everything about the shape of the case and the crown. I also love the leatherwork on the padded brown alligator strap, which was handmade by JacobStraps with a 22mm–18mm taper. It’s seriously superb (read: really goddamn good) and looks amazing with the grey dial. My only criticism would be that I feel that there is a missed opportunity to do something a bit more unique with the buckle itself — either an interesting shape or a branded engraving, at the least.
Saving the best for last, let’s talk about the Technotime TT718 movement inside the Ophion OPH 960. It’s definitely something you don’t see everyday, has a twin-barrel 5-day power reserve, and you can ogle it through the flat sapphire caseback. It’s a 26-jewel movement that beats at 4Hz (28,000vph) and is produced by Technotime SA with part of the work being subcontracted to Mercier SA, although Technotime is credited with making their own hairsprings which is quite the difficult task. The finishing is reserved in its style with flat brushing on most of what you see, only to be contrasted by the polished edges and heat-blued screws that stand out nicely against the austerity. The caliber itself is far from ubiquitous, and I’m happy to see a microbrand kick off witch such an exciting movement. The only other brands I found to use the TT718 were Gustafsson & Sjögren and Fiona Kruger, which are both wholly unique from Ophion in their aesthetic and retail at a much higher cost.
Overall, I really dig the Ophion OPH 960, and I definitely see and feel the value in this offering. It’s an effort that has earned its price tag. Now, I know some people are going to say “I could get a Seiko Cocktail Time for a third of that price!” and I know Seiko makes for great quality to value ratio in a watch. However, I think you will be hard pressed to find a watch with as unique a movement, an authentic handmade alligator strap and top-notch presentation for the same cost anywhere you look. I enjoyed immensely the day-to-day wearing of the Ophion OPH 960, and I think that you would appreciate it too.
If you are interested in one of these watches, know that Ophion makes their watches in small 30–40-piece batches at a time, so there is a chance you may end up in a short pre-order queue when buying one. I’ve been told production takes about 3 months, so an amount of patience (and anticipation) may be necessary to land this beauty on your wrist.
The Ophion OPH 960 is available for €1,580 (taxes included) within the E.U. and €1,305 (approximately $1,500 USD without taxes) everywhere else. ophion-watches.com
>Model: OPH 960
>Country of Origin: Case, Dial & Assembly = Germany / Strap = Spain / Movement & Hands = Switzerland
>Size: 42.9mm x 10.35mm
>Material: 316L Stainless Steel
>Movement: Handwound, Technotime TT 718, 5-Day Power Reserve
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Definitely.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone who wants a classic dress watch at a larger size.
>Best characteristic of watch: Well made for the price with an interesting movement.
>Worst characteristic of watch: The pin buckle could be more interesting, or at least signed.
If you want a smaller size, just wait for the OPH 960S to be released. (Yes, it will still have the same TT 718 inside.)