Swiss marque Oris recently released its brand-new skeletonised timepiece in Shanghai. Here we give our verdict on this muscular new must-have
A beautifully made watch does more than tell the time. Anyone who has known and loved a fine watch will feel as though it has a life of its own. These little machines that we strap onto our wrists, which are often as mechanically complex as a car or jet engine, stir the emotions. They have a soul.
Perhaps this is the appeal of the increasingly popular “skeleton” watch, the movements of which have been artfully and painstakingly re-designed to serve in place of a conventional dial. The recent launch in Shanghai of the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X is yet more evidence of their popularity.
The magic of a skeleton movement has the effect of making you feel as though you can peer into the aforementioned soul of the watch. But this kind of mesmerising kinetic sculpture does not usually come easily nor cheaply.
I attended the September launch event and many seasoned horophiles, including members of the Shanghai Watch Gang, a group of influential Chinese collectors whose opinion can make or break a new watch’s fortunes, wondered out loud how it was possible to offer such a feat of engineering and craftsmanship at such relatively low cost.
Oris, founded in 1904 in Holstein, Switzerland, is known and loved in the watch community for producing “honest” watches, with one of the best price-to-quality ratios of any major Swiss brand. Oris does not do decorative whimsy, nor things just for the sake of it, like mind-bogglingly complex minute repeaters or tourbillons.
True to its roots, the Oris Crown ProPilot X has a stripped-back minimalist aesthetic. Yet its fine-tuned innards look as though they should belong inside the mainframe of the Terminator. The brushed titanium case and bracelet, which most brands would bevel and chamfer in some way, have been left untouched and remain matt. This is a watch stripped back down to its basics. Its beauty comes from its brutality.
The “honesty” of this watch and the no-nonsense approach of Oris comes partly from the culture of the Holstein region of Switzerland from which the company hails, which is close to the German border. Life in the mountains is sober and ordered, perhaps somewhat rigid, but also egalitarian and welcoming. “We are never the most expensive watch or the most exclusive,” says co-CEO Rolf Studer. “We’ve gone from ‘exclusive’ luxury, such as having the most expensive gold watch, to an age of ‘inclusive’ luxury. It’s the difference between Champagne and craft beer. For me, exclusive as a concept is over.”
£5,950 on a metal bracelet; £5,600 on a leather strap. At watches-of-switzerland.co.uk