Oris Big Crown ProPilot Dial
The dial is something worth stopping to consider, and it’s taken me a while to really appreciate the fine nuances that Oris considered with this piece. At its core the Oris Big Crown ProPilot line is exactly what the name suggests, a series of professional pilot watches that are meant to communicate information clearly and concisely. This is accomplished by the clever and effective use of contrast on the dial.
The hands are stark, white sword hands filled with a generous amount of lume. The center pivot and the GMT hand are black, with the arrowhead pointed painted a bright red. I find that this allows the GMT hand to not distract at all from the rest of the dial. The GMT hand is not lumed, however, which would have been a nice touch in my opinion.
The two subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock have tiny white hands indicating the seconds and the power reserve, respectively. The ticking seconds subdial had a delicate radial texture applied to it, while the power reserve only has that texture along the outside track of the dial where the number of remaining days are indicated.
Lastly, and most impressively, the hour numerals are applied and offer a great depth and level of detail to the dial when paired with the texturing on the subdials. They are also lumed, with what I believe is BGW9, as they glow blue but are white in the daylight. Whether it was coming in from the open daylight or waking up jetlag addled, the lume burned bright and clear. I was easily able to tell the time in the dark.
The version of this watch that I received came on a steel bracelet and I found it to be comfortable on the wrist. The links drape nicely and don’t add too much bulk to the watch. The clasp is a single pusher release style and has three micro adjustments that really allowed me to choose the fit. For the sake of the review, I left the watch on the bracelet for the entirety of our trip, and have no complaints. Sizing it, however, was difficult. Oris used the pin and collar system that you often find in Seikos with a collar sitting in the center link and a solid pin passing through. While I was ultimately able to get the bracelet sized, it was no small task. I’d suggest having your dealer do this before leaving.
One thing I wanted to touch on is that while the bracelet is great, I’ve since put this watch on an aftermarket leather strap and I really think this is the way to go. It gives the watch less of a rigid feeling and allows it to fly under the radar a bit better on the wrist. Oris offers several various strap options with this watch, and I would likely pick one of those.
The Competition & Final Thoughts
Oris have prided themselves on doing things their own way, especially so with their newest line of manufacture calibers. Having worn one for a while now I can see why. There’s a graceful tactile quality to watching the power reserve increase while winding the watch and a nerdy yet satisfying quality to adjusting the GMT hand in 30-minute increments. Earlier I referred to Oris as a good gateway into Swiss watches, but the Oris Big Crown ProPilot shows me that this might be a misconception. While it does offer a large amount of value and function for a reasonable price point, it doesn’t feel like you’re settling in any way.
For fairness sake I wanted to mention a couple competitive options:
Panerai has the PAM 233, which offers 8-days of power reserve and a 12-hour GMT mechanism that features a day/night indicator. This watch will run you more than twice the Oris at $12,300, and the PAM does not have the Oris’ aviation stylings.
Tudor released their Black Bay GMT at the same Baselworld, boasting only 70-hour power reserve but making up for it perhaps with a jumping local hour hand, these can be purchased for less than the Oris at $3900 (if you can find one).
Another option would be the Sinn 358 DIAPAL. These feature a 12-hr GMT function attached to a souped-up Valjoux 7750. There is a lot to like about DIAPAL and I challenge you to check out Ariel’s review from a few years back regarding it. This watch would retain some of the aviation aesthetic and offer a lot of function to boot for a little under the Oris at around $4010 in the US. No in-house movement, however.
All that being said, I think the Oris Big Crown ProPilot Caliber 114 has a great place in a watch aficionado’s collection. It offers a good variety of quirk and fiddle factor mixed with a great aesthetic on the wrist. I may have preferred that Oris chose to design the GMT complication a little differently, but 95% of the time this doesn’t change how I use the watch. The 10-day power reserve almost turns this into a grab and go piece, only requiring a winding three times a month. This watch is currently available for $5,900 on the bracelet. For more information please check oris.ch
>Model: Big Crown ProPilot Caliber 114
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone that travels or needs to track a different time zone.
>Best characteristic of watch: The movement by far.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Size and bracelet construction.