Oris has a distinct lineup of contemporary sports cool with the Aquis and Pro Pilot lines, but my heart lies with the vintage-inspired divers and OG Big Crown range. The latter is pitch-perfect vintage at heart, yet is versatile enough to take on a more modern look in its more minimal Calibre 400 and 403 guises. This time, Oris might just have found the suave middle ground with the Big Crown Waldenburgerbahn Limited Edition.

I do have a soft spot for bronze and gilt numerals, but having missed the opportunity to nab one of the “Fratelloris” examples last year, I’m left searching (also, don’t miss out on the Fratelloris of this year!). While writing this story, I might have just found another Big Crown on my radar, and it’s despite my avoidance of monochrome dials. With this new limited edition, like a good espresso, it’s all in the rich blend of aromas.

The Oris Big Crown Waldenburgerbahn Limited Edition

What is the Waldenburgerbahn?

The Waldenburgerbahn is known as Europe’s smallest railway, and without it, the rise of the now-big independent brand Oris might not have happened. This line runs right past the factory in Hölstein, and for almost 120 years, it has been bringing people and parts to the front door of Oris and the brand’s watches out to the world. As a tribute to the Waldenburgerbahn, a deep engraving on the case back displays the evocative image of a steam locomotive chugging along with carriages in tow.

The Oris Big Crown Waldenburgerbahn Limited Edition

First impressions are of juxtaposed delights

For me, this monochrome Big Crown has the best of both worlds. Some might find the gilt/bronze-infused versions of the BC too retro, while the new Calibre 403 edition is a contemporary reinterpretation. The Oris Big Crown Waldenburgerbahn Limited Edition, however, strikes a delicate balance. The clean monochrome of the dial is a graphic, crisp vision of the past. Yet, even with the coin-edge bezel, the 40mm case is timeless. It is a tool watch with just the right touches of finesse, with a clean-cut, brushed case marrying up to the classic oversized crown and polished detail of the bezel. And even with the Big Crown harking back to before the middle of last century, it manages to stay fresh. Framed by the detailed bezel, the dial does it for me with its refined and quiet air of cool.

The 1,000-piece limited edition comes with a rather tempting leather travel pouch and a coffee-brown leather strap from Cervo Volante. The leather is produced from the previously discarded skins of Switzerland’s regulated deer cull. Cervo Volante’s leather is also vegetable-tanned at Switzerland’s two remaining tanneries, meaning no chrome or synthetic pre-tanning agents are involved. The natural feel of the thick leather strap makes a studied contrast to the Big Crown aesthetic.

The Oris Big Crown Waldenburgerbahn Limited Edition

Is this the blend of coffee and monochrome that I was looking for?

I’ll be honest with you, I have dithered on many occasions when a limited-edition opportunity has arisen. And I am especially disappointed in my indecisiveness on our very own Fratelloris. My wife tells me that black and brown don’t go together. However, I firmly disagree, and this watch proves me right. Just like my black merino V-neck is a great match to my coffee-colored leather boots today, this Big Crown Waldenburgerbahn Limited Edition is just right. It is in the small details, and with the dial, everything syncs perfectly. It is fascinating how much a lack of color and crisp white print makes even the deep classicism of cathedral hands feel of our time.

The Bauhaus-Art Deco design of the spare Oris numerals is razor sharp, and I’m in love with the date pointer. It seems like such a small detail, but that red lacquered tip? It pops off the dial like a celebratory champagne cork. The date indicator comes courtesy of the Oris 754 movement inside. This trusty self-winding caliber is based on the Sellita SW200-1 with a 28,800vph frequency and a 38-hour power reserve. At CHF 2,100 from Oris, I may just have found my favorite Big Crown, and my consolidation goals seem to drift off into the distance.

So, Fratelli, I feel that Oris is on a roll this year, but with a measured blend of releases. What do you think of the new Big Crown Waldenburgerbahn Limited Edition? Let us know in the comments.

Find me and follow me: @thorsvaboe

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Watch specifications

Big Crown Waldenburgerbahn Limited Edition
01 754 7785 4084-Set
Matte black with white print – Indices, numerals, and hands treated with Super-LumiNova C1
Case Material
Stainless steel
Case Dimensions
Diameter: 40mm – Lug-to-lug: 48mm – Thickness: 12mm – Lug spacing: 20mm
Double-domed sapphire with internal anti-reflective coating
Case Back
Solid stainless steel, screw-down with special engravings and individual limited-edition number
Oris 754 — Sellita SW200-1 base, automatic, 26 jewels, 28,800vph (4Hz) frequency, 38-hour power reserve
Water Resistance
5 ATM / 50 meters
Dark brown deer leather with stainless steel pin buckle
Time (hours, minutes, central seconds), pointer date
CHF 2,100
Two years
Special Note(s)
Limited edition of 1,000 pieces — Leather travel pouch included