Dear Oris, Please Bring Back The Aquis Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher”
It first appeared on the scene in 1999, but despite its unconventional appearance, the Oris Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher” was a hit. Please remember, in those days, you could still buy a sports Rolex with a bit of discount at your AD. Watch lovers were also a bit more adventurous. I mean, they weren’t afraid to try to stand out in their peer group — if you think I’m implying that the majority of today’s watch lovers only want to wear what the other one is wearing, you’re not mistaken. The unconventional “Der Meistertaucher” was even the best-selling Oris for a while. But since “the times, they are a-changing,” the watch faded away. But I feel it’s time for it to resurface. So Oris, please bring back “Der Meistertaucher”.
The most outstanding feature of the (Aquis) Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher” is, undoubtedly, its regulator-style dial. “What is a regulator…?” I hear you saying under your breath. It’s okay; as Socrates once wisely said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” A regulator watch has its primary functions separated into distinct dials. Typically, there’s an arrangement that consists of sub-seconds, sub-hours, and central minutes. This configuration allows a more precise reading of each function. Original regulator clocks were built to be incredibly accurate and were mostly used for astronomical observations. But they also were used for regulating other timepieces, hence the name “regulator”. And even now, in a more traditional watchmaking atelier, a regulator clock is standard equipment. But does a regulator-style timepiece make sense as a dive watch?
The Oris Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher” is the perfect dive watch
The answer to that question is a positive one. Because of the dial layout, a regulator dive watch makes total sense. First, it allows perfect readability, albeit after getting used to it a bit. And when I say that, I mean it in two ways. It’s not only perfect because of the separated timing functions but also because of the dominant minute hand. All the emphasis is on the minute hand, and that’s the hand that a diver needs. A big, luminous minute hand in combination with a diving bezel is a diver’s best friend. And “Der Meistertaucher” masterly combines both. Or I should say “combined” because, after years of service, the Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher” got booted from the Oris collection last year. I know, not that long ago, but because I expected an updated version and not a cancellation, I’m writing this plea to bring it back ASAP.
What should the new Aquis Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher” look like?
To determine what the new version of “Der Meistertaucher” should look like, let’s first have a look at the original watch and some of its successors. The reference 01 649 7541 7164-Set that got the ball rolling was a dive watch with a 44mm multi-piece titanium case and dive-time bezel ring with the first 15 minutes executed in red. It had a screw-down case back as well as a screw-down crown and helium valve on the right side of the case, which made for a great look. The Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher” meant business a water-resistance rating of 1,000 meters. It came in a Peli-style case with a flashlight and both a three-link titanium bracelet and a rubber strap. The tool to swap them out was included in this pre-quick-change era.
In 2009, the 01 649 7610 7164-Set debuted, a “Der Meistertaucher” that could also dive one kilometer deep. But the diver ditched the color red for orange, got new hands, and, most importantly, received a substantially larger case. This version measured a staggering 49 × 15.6mm with a lug-to-lug length of 57mm.
What about the final “Der Meistertaucher”?
Before we get to the final version of “Der Meistertaucher”, let’s not forget the 01 749 7677 7154-Set with its red minute hand. There was also the 01 749 7663 7185-Set RS Tubbataha Limited Edition with an orange minute hand and indexes in the same color. But, actually, I think we should forget them because these 43mm and 46mm versions could “only” dive to a depth of 300 and 500 meters respectively. You also won’t find a large screw-in helium valve on these models. Instead, there’s an automatic valve. Besides this feature and the regulator dials, these “Der Meistertaucher” models were closer to a standard Aquis.
And that’s also the case with the very last Aquis Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher”, the 01 749 7734 7154-Set from 2020. It did have a wearable 43.5mm case, but the 300 meters of water resistance remained. A nice touch is the red indication of the first 15 minutes on the dive bezel; it can be seen as an understated homage to the first of its kind. But Oris can do better. Much better.
Inside the former and future Aquis Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher”
The automatic Oris 649 movement that powered the original “Der Meistertaucher” was based on the trusted caliber ETA 2836-2 with a power reserve of 38 hours. With a couple of tweaks — a module, that is — the three-handed workhorse got a central hand for the minutes, a sub-dial for the hours at 3 o’clock, and small seconds at 9 o’clock. Due to the rotation of the movement to place the crown at 4 o’clock, the sub-dials relocated to 4 and 10 o’clock respectively. Caliber 649 also featured hacking seconds and a quick-set date complication with a window at 6 o’clock. The final iterations of “Der Meistertaucher” used the caliber 749 based on the SW220-1. But since the Sellita movement is basically a clone of the ETA caliber 2836-2, nothing much had changed. While the hours and seconds sub-dials shifted to 3 and 9, that was merely a result of rotating the movement to put the crown at 3 o’clock. For the next-generation regulator-style dive watch, though, we could expect a lot more.
The movement is already a proprietary creation in the form of the Oris Calibre 400. With its high levels of anti-magnetism and a healthy five-day power reserve, it’s the ideal base for “Der Neue Meistertaucher”. Just tweak the module you already developed, and you’re good to go. Maybe that’s easier said than done, but I’m sure it’s not impossible for a meisteruhrmacher working in the Oris manufacture in Hölstein.
Only scratch-resistant, recycled titanium, that is
The new Regulator “Der Meistertaucher” would/should be in the 43.5mm Aquis case we know today. I’ve been thinking about the 41.5mm version. And with the open, very clear regulator dial, it could possibly work. But for a real tool watch, that would probably be too small. It wouldn’t be an improvement, and also, historically speaking, it would be a bit weird. So 43.5mm it is. In titanium, what else? But what kind of titanium? Recycled titanium, of course. Oris can buy it from Panatere, a company based in Saignelégier — that’s a just fairly eco-easy 95km drive from Hölstein. Starting next year, the company can supply the watch industry with 100% recycled Grade 2 and Grade 5 titanium produced using waste recovered from companies in the Swiss Jura. This process helps the environment by reducing emissions because recycling titanium uses less energy than refining titanium ore.
If you ask me, the titanium does deserve a scratch-resistant coating. And Oris could get that because Kaltbrunner AG in Grenchen is already working with different watch brands. And just so you know, the distance between the Sportstrasse 1 in Grenchen and the Ribigasse 1 in Hölstein is a mere 55 kilometers.
PET plastic fantastic
The dial is a done deal, too, if you ask me. Ever since I saw the Oris Aquis Upcycle with its reclaimed PET plastic dial in the metal, the idea of having something like that in a new “Der Meistertaucher” started spinning in my head. Having the same colorful dial would make no sense from a practical point of view. But the good thing is, that when you feed the machine that makes the sheet of plastic waste in the colors of your liking, you can create something in a color scheme of your liking. Yes, all dials will be different because of the random pattern. But if you select black, gray, and blue plastic waste, you end up with some sort of navy camouflage-type dial.
I bet it would match the matte black ceramic bezel insert with its first fifteen minutes. And of course, the minute hand will be in red. In the rugged box of the upcoming “Der Meistertaucher”, there will be two easy-to-operate, quick-changing options — a sturdy, solid, and strong titanium bracelet and a supple, recycled red rubber strap, both outfitted with an in-clasp extension system.
Ideally, the future Aquis Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher” will have a water-resistance rating of 1,000 meters. Oris can do it, so why not do it for its quirky diving icon? Would that require a different helium valve system? Possibly, but again, it can be done. I know the last version of the watch was taken out of production because sales were plummeting. The watch started strongly but fizzled out over the years. But with both a technical and an ecological update, the unique Aquis Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher” could once again rule the “Seven Seas”. The original Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher” had no equal, and the new one will have no equal either.
What do you think? If you want to petition for a new Aquis Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher”, please do so in the comments. And if you want to browse the 52-strong Oris Aquis collection and see for yourself that it’s missing one thing — “Der Meistertaucher” — please click here. And by the way, this thought piece could also be used as an internal memo at Oris. I mean, if it helps realize a new Aquis Regulateur “Der Meistertaucher”, anything goes.
Find and follow me at Lex Stolk • Instagram