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Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition Bronze Watch Hands-On

Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

For 2018, Swiss Oris follows up one of their recent limited edition watches with a new version in the form of a chronograph. Two years ago in 2016 Oris originally launched a limited edition bronze version of its then still new 65 Diver in the 42mm wide case. The model was named the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition, and quickly became a fan favorite for its good looks, trendy case material, and versatile aesthetic. For 2018 Oris is hoping to recapture the magic of the original Carl Brashear timepiece with the 2,000-piece Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition reference 01 771 7744 3185 LS.

Carl Brashear was a particularly accomplished and sympathetic US Navy man because at the height of his career he succeeded as a master diver even after having his left leg amputated. The injury occurred during a Navy mission that was part of a munitions salvage operation. Brashear's specialty was in underwater recovery after having gone to the Navy's Diving & Salvage School. He was also the Navy's first black master diver. More about Carl Brashear and why he is a pretty cool hero can be found on Wikipedia here. Some of the proceeds of the limited edition watch are said to go to the Carl Brashear Foundation charity.

Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

All images by Ariel Adams

Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

In many ways the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition watch is more of the same. The watch case is the same 43mm wide as the original, with the same bronze metal construction and attractive blue dial. This particular piece I shot was worn for a while – so it represents what the case might look like after aging for a few months. Aside from a slightly thicker case thanks to the thicker movement, the real novelty here is the bi-compax-style 30-minute chronograph. For this Oris uses the still uncommon Sellita SW 510 automatic chronograph movement. According to Oris, this is the first time they've used this movement, and they call it their Oris Caliber 771. Over the dial is a sapphire crystal domed to look like a vintage acrylic crystal.

Just like the original Oris Carl Brashear bronze watch, the Carl Brashear Chronograph is an undeniably attractive timepiece. The addition of the chronograph sub-dials as well as the chronograph pushers on the case up the ante, though the simple good looks of a clean dive watch are removed a bit. Bi-compax diving chronographs are rare (as are chronograph dive watches), but as watch brands have less vintage dive watch inspiration to pull from, they clearly need to find new ways of being inventive. Many will logically think of the also recent Tudor Black Bay Chronograph as the logical competitor piece to the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph. Ironically, these watches are priced within about $100–$200 of one another. Either one is a good choice and neither would win in a flat-out fight. Though when it comes to trendy good looks and a more refined design, the Oris might have the edge.

Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Personally, I like the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph, but feel that it tends to the needs of style a tiny bit more than utility. Oris makes some excellent professional dive watches, so yes, one could easily say they are allowed to make more fashionable (slightly less durable) companion pieces such as this limited edition. As a dive watch the case is water resistant to 100m, and I'm not sure if the chronograph pushers can be used under water. I'd get a bit more excited about diving chronograph watches if using the chronograph underwater was possible. Some timepieces have this function, but its admittedly rare in mechanical timepieces.

I've seen Oris' bronze cases after aging for a year or two – and yes they certainly develop a "patina." That's the real reason why folks like bronze watches (in addition to the case color material) and this is because the look of the bronze material changes over time. Bronze is a "style over substance" choice when it comes to choosing watch case materials because when compared to steel, well... steel will win out in most instances. Bronze is both heavier and softer than steel, though it does have that warm rosiness thanks to the copper content. You'll of course notice that the caseback of the watch is in steel, and given a pleasant embossed motif of a diver's helmet and the late Mr. Brashear's mantra of "It's not a sin to get knocked down, it’s a sin to stay down." That guy was tough as nails.

Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Because bronze tends to oxidize when in contact with one's skin, Oris also includes a stainless steel strap buckle in addition to the bronze one. This "discoloration" tendency of bronze is also why the caseback is in steel. The dial elements on the Carl Brashear Chronograph are in a rose gold tone, which matches the bronze case well. Despite the addition of the sub-dials and extra hands, legibility is still strong. Oris probably made the right decision by maintaining dial symmetry and not including a date window.

From an intellectual standpoint there isn't really anything else to discuss as being new in the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition. Again, if you liked the original Carl Brashear Limited Edition and missed out, the Carl Brashear Chronograph could satisfy your cravings for more. It's also technically a more interesting and distinctive model as compared to the original – so it's great for anyone who missed out the first time. Bronze watches continue to trickle in each year and will do so until people stop enjoying the "personalization" you can get from how your particular bronze watch case may patina. These also follow suit with the still important trend of vintage-style watches, which are designed to be new but evoke a sense of timeless duty and enduring utility. There also happens to be the more straightforward and arguably elegant style of vintage sport watches.

Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Once again, the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition reference 01 771 7744 3185 LS watch will available as a limited edition of 2,000 pieces. Retail price will be $4,950 USD. oris.ch

About the Author

Fueled by an unshakable love for horology and a general curiosity for intricate things, Ariel Adams founded aBlogtoWatch in 2007 as a means of sharing his passion. Since then, ABTW has become the highest trafficked blog on luxury timepieces, and Ariel has become a contributor to other online publications such as Forbes, Departures and Tech Crunch, to name just a few. His conversational writing style and inclusive attitude brings a wider appreciation for watches the world over, and that's just the way he likes it.

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  • Good Gene 42K18

    “Many will logically think of the also recent Tudor Black Bay Chronograph as the logical competitor piece to the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph. Ironically, these watches are priced within about $100–$200 of one another.”
    That is so logical and also ironic too as well. Great artical, love these watch!

    • Jay Wick

      When I was Jung
      It seemed the world was so logical

      • DanW94

        You, you, you Otto know.

        • Good Gene 42K18

          I didnt come here to be psychoannalized. I came hear to say “great watch!” Or “noice!”

          • DanW94

            Interesting, Did I read that correctly? Did you say
            psychoanalized? Have a seat and we’ll talk about it….

          • Good Gene 42K18

            It hurts to sit and it hurts to talk about it.
            Not noice

          • Sheez Gagoo

            Is this really what you want? Go deep inside you and ask yourself this question.

      • Sheez Gagoo

        Freud(e), schöner Götterfunken…

  • MEddie90

    I kind of get the appeal of this, design wise it’s a not unattractive vintage styling, bronze is a popular material at the moment because of how quickly it patinas (read discolors) and it has a lovely domed crystal. I’ve always found the diver chrono to be a practical combo, chronograph for precise timing and a bezel for more granular timing, works out well whether you need to cook pasta or keep track of a parking meter.

    That said there are two things that stop this dead in it’s tracks for me. For one the dial looks nice but is too pristine for the case, it’ll be fine when you get the watch but after a few weeks to months the bronze will be discoloured while the dial remains immaculate, looks quite jarring in the photos. Lastly the price is on the steep end, the whole appeal of Oris is that you can pick up a sturdy, attractive watch (like the sixty-five) for a decent price. At nearly $5,000 you’re getting into premium watch territory, more than a Speedmaster, head to head with Tudor, I cant see how this watch is going to compete. I understand limited releases command a premium and aren’t competing in the same way as a normal production watch but it still seems too steep for what you’re getting imho.

  • JosephWelke

    I’m the first guy to fawn over whatever Oris does, let’s be clear. And I really like this, but at $5,000 US, it leaves behind what makes an Oris, an Oris I feel-the sense that you paid a reasonable price and got something well-made and reliable. That’s such a rare feeling in the Swiss watch market. If this were $3,500 I might not complain. For that money, I would indeed pick up that Tudor Black Bay Chrono and enjoy the new Breitling movement, rather than the massaged Valjoux 7753 that’s in here.

    That said, I did ask Oris whether they had plans to release this Chronograph in the normal Diver Sixty Five range, and I asked for a 40mm case size. I was told Oris Switzerland had no plans – yet – but my suggestion had been passed up higher. We’ll see.

  • Cool looking watch (but then I’m a fan of the non-chrono Oris Carl Brashear watch). The price could have been a bit lower but if they sell out all 2K of them, who am I to tell them how to price it? The 2 register dial with no date looks just right – they knew when to stop and not include every feature that the movement offered. Just a personal thing, but I never liked the “snowflake” hand onTudor watches, so this watch wins over the mentioned Tudor for me. Not sure how I’d feel about the patina, but having seen the non-chrono Oris Carl Brashear at BaselWorld a couple of years back, I know that it looks superb before the oxidation set in. Guess a little Brasso removes patina, so this case could work for me. I’m sure the watch is a bit thick (did they mention the thickness in the post?) since it uses a 7750 architecture.

    • Mauviel “Copperbrill” will do the best job. Not much grit in it. But I would still not use it around a plastic crystal. (Just remember to remove the strap first and keep the crown screwed down.) I had one of the three handers that came back from service with no plastic wrap. The bezel had been pressed against the interior foam of the service box for a few days. Guess what the foam contact did to the bezel? Anyway, this cleaning advise is offered from direct experience. 🙂

  • Raymond Wilkie

    What is going on here? I have never EVER seen a more badly finished bezel in the history of the world.

    • IG

      Looks like Malcolm ran over it?

  • ” Ironically, these watches are priced within about $100–$200 of one another. Either one is a good choice and neither would win in a flat-out fight.”

    I beg to differ – the Oris is, subjectively speaking of course, more attractive because it has a more cohesive and purpose-driven design language. The Tudor Black Bay Chrono, ostensibly from a collection of dive watches, isn’t a dive watch. I’m a fan of Tudor, but their BB chrono is a lazy design. I’m sure we’ll see a Pelagos Chronograph at some point in the future (Sure, meaning, really really hoping) but personally, I’d rather have the uniqueness of the Brashear chrono than Tudor’s current offering.

    Also, “Bi-compax diving chronographs are rare”. They certainly are, as this isn’t one, either. “Compax” was a model designation used by Universal Geneve, and the number in front of it denotes how many complications the movement had, not how many subdials. A “Bi-Compax” chronograph had a chrono and a date. The UG Tri-Compax, having a chrono, date, and moonphase, actually had four subdials. I realize that in recent years people have taken to using this term to refer to all two-register chronographs, but it’s incorrect. A two-register chronograph is properly called….a two-register chronograph. It’s kind of like how some people call the rehaut, the “chapter ring”. The Tudor BB Chrono, having a date, would be closer to a Bi-Compax Chronograph.

    You might think I’m being pedantic, or nit-picky, but this is a site dedicated to watch reviews and, presumably, history. You wouldn’t operate a blog about Chevy muscle cars and call every Corvette a Stingray.

    • Andrew Hochberg

      Well stated sir!

    • Good Gene 42K18

      So a chapter ring is only when it has markings on it and a rehaut is when it slopes downward? Or something else entirely?

      • Easiest way to describe it: Go grab a Submariner. See the seconds / minutes track above the hour markers, going 360 degrees around the dial? That’s the chapter ring. The steel hoop that goes under the crystal engraved with ROLEXROLEXROLEX? That’s the rehaut.

        • Good Gene 42K18

          I was kinda on the right “track”. They can be one and the same if instead of ROLEXROLEXROLEX it had 5…10…15…20…

    • Yep and I was careful not to call this watch a bi-compax in my comment (below) which preceded your extensive comment. Cheers.

    • Ariel Adams

      I actually used “bi-compax” because that is how Oris referred to it. I understand the historic use of this term, but in today’s lexicon it has just shifted in use such that it means something different today. Maybe we need a better term?

      • Good Gene 42K18

        Of coarse you knew that your the guru. the industry needs to listen up

      • Just as a point of reference:

        Hodinkee calls it a “Bi-Compax Chronograph”
        Wornandwound uses the term “dual register chronograph.”
        Fratellowatches refers to it as a “two register chronograph”
        Watchtime says it’s a “two-counter chronograph (with a) bi-compax layout.”
        Watchuseek, copying directly from the Brashear product page on Oris’ website, calls it a “two counter chronograph”.

        Paraphrasing a bit from Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would mean that no one properly read the press release.”

      • SuperStrapper

        No, no compax works just fine. Everyone knows exactly what it refers to, but there will always be those that can’t help but niggle for no good reason. It’s what this hobby is founded on.

  • Sam Soul

    Can’t afford it but I like this one.

  • BNABOD

    Would be cool if they could make bronze cases stronger through more allloy playing to compete because bronze is soft and will ding easily. Maybe then we could say ok 3.5k tops then if the case was Sinnified. I get this is a LE, whatever that means these days but 5k is very very optimistic. The dial is crisp , the layout is nice but paying full retail for this one would be in my book a huge mistake even though I like the look. FYI there is a Tudor chrono on the recon barely used for 3700 bucks and it has been there a while so…

    • Jay Wick

      Biver will invent a new magic bronze. It will age well.

      • BNABOD

        Yes Dr the Biver could do it in a snap.

      • IG

        THE BIVER Magic Bronze™ : 80% copper 8% tin 12% cheese

        • BNABOD

          Damn it don’t you go out there sharing the recipe

    • Rupert Muller

      Not all companies use the same bronze alloy and there are hardness differences. For example, Panerai (and most other bronze using watch companies) uses CuSn8, which is quite soft. On the other hand, IWC uses an aluminum bronze alloy that has the same hardness as steel or is even slightly harder.
      So it really depends on the alloy they use.

      • BNABOD

        Yes it does but pushing the envelope forward would be nice but usually when nothing is said about the case alloy chances are it is fairly basic would be my guess

  • Chaz

    Die already, bronze!! Banish ye to HELL!!!!

  • Sheez Gagoo

    Bronze is really not for me. Reminds me of the watch mentioned in Pulp Fiction. Must look like this. Besides that, nice watch.

    • The color from the watch in Pulp Fiction did not come from the metal alloy used 😉

      • Jay Wick

        Now, now!

  • Simonh

    Just needs a good polish then it will look fine.

  • ILOW

    Shame the blue dial isn’t consistent with the three hander. But quite a nice effort all-round.

    Tip* Someone needs to take the macro lens off for a few shots and not try so hard with the dungeon lighting. Or is it just the photos on this new site are way too large on a 21″ monitor..? Looking at the thumbnails is far less headache inducing.

    • Kumaran Ramu

      Yep i felt the same too…i guess its the new site

  • R Ramki

    Yes a 100m “dive” chronograph which you can’t use in water to honor a Master diver. Great work Oris.

    • Why can’t you use it in the water? One might not be able to activate the chrono pushers underwater, but you can certainly dive with it.

      • R Ramki

        Well it’s a chronograph dive watch and if you can’t use said function in water then you might as well not have the feature. Hey look I made a 4×4 Jeep, but just stick to the city roads!

  • Carlos Coste, Carl Brashear… now they have to find a diver who spells Karl with a K for the next one.

  • SuperStrapper

    I like bronze as a material and enjoy bi compax chronograph. But as far as bi compax chronographs go this is a fairly ugly bi compax chronograph.

  • Tea Hound

    Lovely. And excellent photos too. Nothing else to add.

  • R Ramki

    Would be nice to see pictures outside a prison cell