October 4, 2013
My most recent new watch was an Oris Diver Titan “C” Small Second. Before discussing the watch itself I’d like to discuss how I came upon it. Watch enthusiasts really need a 12 step program. We are hardwired to always think about watches, our best bet is to channel our addiction to timepieces properly. Watches are where my brain wanders to during supposed “down time.” I often think about it as the thrill of the hunt. How many times have the readers of aBlogtoWatch been obsessed about their next purchase, only to get it, and start the process all over again? The DSM should have an entry for this behavior (perhaps it already does)…
So, recently I decided it was time for another watch (one can never have too many, right?). What was my hunt going to be for this time? Obviously, something that I’ve never had before. I was drawn to titanium for its light weight, and its color. All of my sport watches are steel, so this was going to be a completely new category for me. I was very excited about doing my research, and trying some contenders on for size (literally). Since I spend many hours at the gym, it had to be durable, and also washable (being semi-germaphobic).
It was time to set my new acquisition parameters: I wanted a luxury/sport/titanium watch on an integrated bracelet, with an automatic movement, that is Swiss-made. Having an automatic movement is romantic, and in a silly sort of way. I love all things digital, and I always have the latest phone, laptop, tablet, etc… I am an independent inventor of new technologies. However, having an item that is strapped to my body, well that level of intimacy requires it to be special. Mechanical, yes, but mainly made by hand. I actually enjoy watching the second hand slowly move around the dial. Romantic? Yes, because of the incredible history of mechanical horology. The movement at the watch’s center, with its vibrations that are measured per hour, or second, is to me, like a human’s heart which also (hopefully) beats with great regularity.
I choose a watch with Swiss origins, because for centuries, Switzerland has been the heart of the watchmaking industry, and has an incredible history of craftsmanship and innovation.
I wanted the watch to be uniform in color, meaning no black center links on the bracelet, or jarring details. The bracelet should be an enhancement, or supporting player, not the focal point. I firmly believe that the focus should be on the watch face, bezel, and case. A different color bezel would be fine, because it can highlight the dial, creating a nice frame, like you would find on a painting.
My expectations and hopes were for a moderately priced watch, from a well-regarded manufacturer. I set an upper price limit of roughly $5,000.00, which I thought seemed reasonable, and would allow for many options.
Some watches I liked, but had to disqualify:
– Breitling’s Aerospace at 42mm: it is has a quartz movement, and not an automatic.
– Tag Heuer: only black and not naked titanium, and none on a bracelet.
– Bell & Ross: titanium models yes, but nothing on a bracelet I could find.
– Ball: some titanium models, but the bracelets are steel and titanium on the models I was looking at.
– Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean: clocking in at 42mm which is good and available in titanium. I have always loved it but at $8,600.00, it was more than I was interesting in spending on this particular purchase.
– Chanel J12 Chromatic Automatic 41mm: titanium ceramic, for $6,600.00. This was the closest, and would have been an excellent choice, save that I did not want “titanium ceramic” at this time. I am not being difficult, but I did set goals, and a ceramic watch was not one of them (this time!). Click here to see Paul Hubbard’s review of the Chanel J12 Chromatic, that I completely agree with.
So, I was off to the stores. As much as I enjoy the retail shopping experience, I wish there was a way to resolve three issues. 1) The first one is that every retailer should have a full length mirror. Why? choosing a watch is about proportion. I am not a big guy, but I like big watches. I need to see if I can pull off a 49mm, and I can’t get that information from the silly counter mirrors that look like they came from the cosmetic department. 2) If I am trying on a watch with a metal bracelet which is usually the case, they should provide me with a small foam insert so that I can tuck it in under the clasp. This way, I can see the watch fitting my wrist, and not dangling on the end of my arm!
Finally, 3) I wish buying a watch were like buying a car. When you car shop, you get to really examine them, sitting in the middle of an empty space, in silence. You get to sit inside, and really inspect every detail, privately, while imagining it is yours. If you really like it, then you can take it for a nice test drive. At the retail watch store, you are presented with the watch, but never get “alone time.” The salesperson is always keeping their eye on you (obviously, so you don’t go running out of the store). You usually can only see two, or three at a time (insurance companies like it that way). What I really want is a quiet place to sit, and spend some time alone with the watch I am thinking about maybe buying. Wouldn’t it be ideal if you could borrow one for a day for a test run? “Gee, this looks great with Jeans, shorts, gym clothes, and a dress shirt! I’ll take it!”
So eventually my process of strict elimination has me thinking about Oris. I knew that they were Swiss made, and had many titanium models. So, that would be my first stop (and my last as it turned out).
The first watch I saw was Oris Divers Titan “C” Small Second, Date watch. I was told that it was their iconic dive watch. It was titanium, had a simple titanium bracelet, a virtually scratch-proof black ceramic bezel, and three features that made it a “must have.” The second hand was odd, and beautiful, because it looked like a boat’s propeller in motion. It divided the the sixty-seconds sub dial into two thirty-second halves, sitting in a rather large titanium framed circle, at 8 o’clock. One half of the hand had lume, and the other did not. It was something I had never seen before. I pictured the enjoyment the “propeller” would bring as it paddled its way around the sub dial. The case is 47mm wide, so that allows plenty of space for that detail to be viewed. The dial also had a wave pattern, that completed the “propeller in the water” effect.
The flange ring had a gentle curve that was titanium against the black dial. It created a great frame for the dial, and gave the watch great dimensional qualities. The “flange ring” is the ring where the dial meets the case of the watch. And, the final detail that sealed the deal, were the two offset crowns. I have a watch with crowns at 2 o’clock and at 4 o’clock and find them very appealing, because they are uncommon, instead of having the usual 3 o’clock placement. The crown at 2 o’clock sets the watch, and the crown at 4 o’clock is the manual helium valve. I am not a diver, but it was an authentic feature that any serious divers watch needs to have. more »