June 20, 2014
by Ariel Adams
New for 2014 from Oris is the Big Crown ProPilot collection of watches. The Big Crown is an existing popular model family from the Swiss brand, and the Big Crown ProPilot adds a new series to their already pretty good collection of pilot watches. Can’t have enough aviator watches right? Today, I am going to look at the current flagship model in the Big Crown ProPilot collection, which is the Oris Big Crown ProPilot Chronograph GMT watch model set (ref. 677 7699 4164).
In total, the Oris Big Crown ProPilot watch collection will have three model types (each coming on a metal bracelet or textile strap). There is a smaller 41mm wide three-hand Oris Big Crown ProPilot Date, the 45mm wide Oris Big Crown ProPilot Day Date, and this 44mm wide Oris Big Crown ProPilot Chronograph GMT. Each is quite stunning in its own right, especially as a serious looking tool watch.
What is new for Oris about the Big Crown ProPilot watches? In a sense, the Big Crown ProPilot collection is a more modern take on the more vintage-themed Big Crown collection of pilot watches. While each of these watches is meant for the same purpose, the ProPilot is going to have a different dial, case, and handset. To be honest it is difficult to choose which is better because neither is. It is just a matter of taste. To make things a bit more complex there are already the modern looking Oris BC3 and BC4 collection of pilot watches.
Each of the Oris Big Crown ProPilot watches has a great looking steel case with a sort of knurled-style bezel and matching caseback bezel (what would you call that texture?). The dials are beautifully functional, and I can easily say that they are so attractive because they are so utilitarian, with their high-contrast numerals and lack of decorative nonsense. For the Big Crown ProPilot Chronograph GMT, Oris needed to contend with a lot of information on the dial. What they did was clever, and very thin markers and numerals on the subdials keep overall legibility very high.
In person, I found the watch to be even better looking than the pictures. Oris does a really good job with their pilot watches, and this “Big Crown evolution” helps take the aesthetic into the modern era. At 44mm wide, the Big Crown ProPilot Chronograph GMT is actually 1mm smaller than the Day Date model, but in my opinion, it’s the perfect size. The case is also water resistant to 100 meters with a case thickness of 15.50mm.
Over the dial is a double-domed sapphire crystal with AR coating. Oris uses a mineral crystal for the caseback over the movement, which helps keep a little cost down. Given the name of the collection, Oris of course needed to use a “Big Crown.” It is easy to grasp and solid, while not being “too big.” I actually rather like the simple chronograph pushers that do not protrude too much.