We travel a lot to visit watch events, but most are in the surrounding countries. However, we found our way to China for a special occasion last week.
Oris launched the Big Crown ProPilot X in the centre of Shanghai, with amazing views of the famous Bund skyline in the background. With this event report, we want to take you behind the scenes and show you what has been shown to us in Shanghai.
After 17 hours of travelling, we arrived in the centre of a warm and humid Shanghai. Here we are welcomed by co-CEO Rolf Studer, David and Mona Weber, Michael Meier and Marco Gemperli followed by a nice dinner.
In a relaxing atmosphere, we get to enjoy a selection of traditional Chinese dishes. While catching up with friends in the industry, we get to know some new people as well with different backgrounds before catching up on some much-needed sleep.
Next day we get ready for the official program for which we travelled half-way around the globe. After being welcomed the guests split into four groups. From there on, we participate in different workshops. We start with the movement 115 of the new Big Crown ProPilot X. Marco Gemperli, Region manager International at Oris, explains about Oris and their in-house movements. Around 1981 the company decided to seize the use of their movements and continue with more cost-effective alternatives produced by ETA and Sellita.
It wasn’t until 2014 that Oris presented another in-house movement. This calibre with the name 110 doesn’t represent the number of movements made by the brand, but it marked the 110th anniversary of Oris. Up to 1981 Oris produced 279 different calibres. Main features of this new in-house movement are the ten days of power reserve, a non-linear power reserve indicator combined with small seconds. This time changing movement was only used in a limited edition series of watches. The same movement with an added date function followed in the shape of calibre 111 shortly after.
In the following year’s calibre 112 (with added 2nd timezone and day/night indicator), calibre 113 (with added day, pointer week and month) and finally calibre 114 (added GMT function) are launched, which brings us to today. Oris wouldn’t invite a large group of journalists unless there is something significant to share.
Following the current in-house movements, there is another addition to the lineup. Calibre 115, however, doesn’t add a new complication, yet it is a skeleton movement. Again a hand-wound calibre with at least 10 days of power reserve, a non-linear power reserve indicator and small seconds.
Position for the small seconds was determined on the ideal location, allowing it to be directly driven without additional gears. This helps reduce friction in the movement, which allows for better and lower power distribution. The total power reserve is closer to twelve days, yet guaranteed for ten days of perfect performance.
To achieve such a long power reserve, the watch comes with a mainspring that measures 1,2 meter in length. Due to the skeleton movement, all the functional parts are visible, thus revealing how they function. Because this movement was designed from the ground up as a skeleton movement it shows great depth. Although the movement isn’t certified, we learn that it runs within the known chronometer specifications of -4/+6 seconds a day on average — time to switch places and move on to the next workshop.
Elsewhere on-site there is the possibility to have a 3D presentation of the new watch and movement. It is allowing you to view the movement from within. Quite a fun experience, and it should be on YouTube at some point for everyone to experience.
Next, we sit down with Michael Meier, who is region manager at Oris. He explains more about the design features of the new Big Crown ProPilot X, and the desire for Oris to create a contemporary aviation watch. Combined with the spirit of calibre 110, translated into a fully skeletonised movement. All details are extensively looked at on its own and in comparison to the total watch.
The design of the ProPilot X is similar to the ProPilot collection, but it has small details which make it stand apart. Both are aviation inspired and presented that way. But Where the ProPilot is aimed at pilots, the ProPilot X is aviation-inspired and lacks the clear characteristics of a real pilots watch. For instance the hour markers, which are delicately printed on the outer ring of the skeleton dial, yet the large hands make it easy to read the time.
Giving the designers the freedom to push their limits, resulting in a new watch design that marks a new direction for Oris. Combined with features from the ProPilot line, the X marks a raw style with pure lines and finishes. Using titanium for its lightness and still having that technical look you expect.
After talking about the design, we sit down with Rolf Studer, co-CEO of Oris. He also explains about the design and its origins. How they are a combination of nature, as found in the surroundings of Hölstein, architecture and art. Staying true to the brand and its philosophy, staying pure, as nature intended.
‘It must make sense, it has to serve a purpose, and it should be within a price range that’s realistic.’
Oris makes watches for those who work and appreciate it — saying that a watch has to put a smile on your face. If it doesn’t do that, what’s the purpose of one? And all of this has to come within a reasonable and realistic price range. Oris is not about being a status symbol; you could call it inclusive luxury instead of exclusive.
And one more critical note, where watches are often presented to the public, it can take months for them to become available. The ProPilot X was shipped out to retailers across the world and available immediately after the official launch.
And no, this has nothing to do with the watch itself but to the location where we travelled. We end the afternoon with some Chinese influences and important cultural heritage, calligraphy. Each of us receives a document with our name written in Chinese. In 3 different styles. We get to practice writing our name with a traditional brush and ink. Not an easy thing to do.
We end the workshops with some final words, and included through a live connection with Switzerland, is Lukas Bühlmann, Senior Product Design Engineer at Oris, who is actually in Switzerland.
Later that day we get together for the official worldwide launch moment of the Oris Big Crown ProPilot X. With the fantastic light show of the Bund buildings in the background, the day slowly comes to an end. The same goes for this trip, and after a short sightseeing tour in Shanghai, we find our way to the airport for the journey home.
For more information on the ProPilot X, make sure to visit Oris online or visit a retailer.
Bert Buijsrogge has worked in the real-estate business for 15 years and combined his passion for watches and photography over the years. He became famous for his watch photography and created a specific branded watch calendar for a number of... read more