Watches and Wonders 2023: Oris
Oris had us humming The Muppets Show’s theme song all week long with a fun and clever collab.
Oris has honestly been on a hot streak, thanks to the incredible diligence of its team and brilliant leadership from co-CEO Rolf Studer. The ProPilot X is a sexy, impressive performer in its price category, and the brand’s Movement Creation Programme is on point with calibres that do exactly what’s needed the right way. And next year is its 120th anniversary, so you can be sure there will be something up its sleeves. But for now, the brand has added to its ProPilot collection with two key models, and one is a collaboration with Disney’s The Muppets, specifically, Kermit.
The ProPilot X
The ProPilot X has been a key focus of the brand. The sleek and next-gen flagship of the ProPilot collection was first released in 2019 with the Calibre 115 and has expanded into a full-fledged model since. The original model was sized at 44mm, a little big for some watch lovers, and the 39mm three-hand model was more recently introduced with another in-house movement, the self-winding Calibre 400.
The blue and grey dials of the ProPilot X Calibre 400 are more stoic, but the candy floss pink dial has been a hit, and now the brand has added a jolly green dial with a partner that’s just as happy-go-lucky as the light green watch: Kermit the Frog.
According to creative director Ken Laurent, the project started by defining the modern purpose of a mechanical watch today. He explains, “We talk a lot about functions in a literal sense, but really, the purpose of an Oris watch is to make people smile. That’s it.”
Kermit is one of the original Muppets and clearly resonates strongly with the average demographic of today’s watch collectors. Even those who didn’t grow up watching The Muppets Show will certainly be aware of them. And The Muppets have collaborated on all sorts of things, from public service announcements to Star Wars. So why not a watch?
The Oris ProPilot X Kermit Edition bears the same elongated hour markers, sword-shaped hands, date window at 6 o’clock, and titanium case and bracelet. The same self-winding Calibre 400 with a 5-day power reserve is housed within. It is identical to the other existing Calibre 400 models except in two ways. First, the dial is a bright, almost neon green inspired by the puppet and designed to brighten your day. Second, the first day of each month is Kermit Day, when the date doesn’t show but instead, an illustration of Kermit does.
In all honesty, we kind of wish it could be Kermit Day every day or that Oris had decided to switch out the dates in their entirety with different Muppets characters across the board, or even just 31 expressions of Kermit, rather than just one day. After all, according to Rolex, the date and days are superfluous on our watches today (check out our review of its emoji-filled timepiece this year). We’re also hoping that the candy pink dial will get a Miss Piggy upgrade soon. Based on reactions so far, it seems most peoples’ reactions are exactly what Laurent hoped for: a smile that brightens their day.
The ProPilot Altimeter
Nine years ago, Oris launched the first mechanical watch with a mechanical altimeter. This matched its mechanical depth gauge model, which is another rare diver’s collectable. The original has a 47mm stainless steel case with a 17mm thickness, featuring an aneroid capsule altimeter. It’s basically a sealed disc that expands or contracts minutely with pressure changes and moves an indicator.
The brand has been working on ways to improve the watch for the last three years. Starting with the case, which has been developed with 9T Labs (an ETH Zurich spin-off company). The case material is now in carbon fibre with a polymer, PEKK (polyetherketoneketone), and uses a sustainable production process. The latter was something the brand was focused on.
If you find the acronym somewhat familiar, you may recall that Panerai has, in the past, used a similar additive manufacturing polymer, PEEK (polyetheretherketone), for limited editions. Both materials have similar qualities. However, the carbon fibre composite used by Oris is produced with a new manufacturing process by 9T Labs, making it easy to scale up, meaning other models could soon come with this same material. The benefits of PEKK include high mechanical, heat, and chemical resistance. It’s also super light and possesses incredible strength and stiffness. And Oris is the first watchmaker to use this material.
The ProPilot Altimeter is easy to use. The time indication is on the inner dial, a simple three-hand display. The outer circumference of the watch has an altimeter scale that goes up to 6,000m or 19,700ft. To use the altimeter, you need to pull the altimeter crown out first and set the baseline before starting your hike or mountaineering. As the pressure changes, the altimeter marker in red will move up or down the scale.
The watch is powered by the Oris 793 calibre with a 56-hour power reserve, an improvement over the previous model, which bore the Sellita-based Oris 733 movement. It also has a higher altimeter range than the original. It’s paired with a green textile strap with a grey PVD-coated titanium folding clasp. The same titanium material is used for the bezel, crown, and caseback.
There are more Oris models that have been released; we’ll have more in an updated review shortly after we’ve joined the queue for the Kermit.
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