Oris’s Newest In-House Calibers: Three Heavy Hitters And More To Come
Over the past months, Oris has released a handful of novel and formidable in-house calibers. Starting with the inaugural “Calibre 400”, name of both movement and watch, a time/date Aquis, we were then quickly given the newest iteration of the Carl Brashear diver in bronze with “Calibre 401”, a small seconds variant of the base 400.
On June 1, the newest Oris Holstein Limited Edition was released using the never-before-seen Calibre 403 with pointer-date and small seconds to the tune of a scarce 250 available pieces. All of these are built off the base architecture of the Calibre 400, a revolution in watch engineering, longevity, and economics. But with movements numbering “400”, “401”, and “403”, one has to ask: Where (and what) is “Calibre 402”? I have a hunch…
Oris is winning right now. To those of you not familiar with the Calibre 400, I highly recommend you read this introduction. But for those of you that are familiar or can’t be bothered, let me refresh you: the Calibre 400 was first introduced in the new Aquis Date Calibre 400 (and has only been extended to another diver, the Aquispro Date Calibre 400). More expensive than the brand’s base model Aquis by about $1,300 (but still well under $5,000), what that premium gets you is a movement that is antimagnetic, a 5-day power reserve, and a 10-year warranty (and suggested service interval).
I cannot impart to the reader how significant that last bit is. No other company is doing that, not to that extreme. For more of a dive into 10-year service intervals, check out when I really dove into it here, but rest assured I’ve done my homework, and Oris’s Calibre 400 and how the brand is standing behind it is pushing the industry into new territory.
More new movements
After a very short period of time, relatively speaking, we now have two other movements: Calibre 401 and Calibre 403. The 401 makes it’s debut in the latest iteration of Oris’ Carl Brashear Limited Edition, still in bronze and blue, now with a small seconds dial between center and 6’clock. This is a very clean look that sets it apart from their standard Divers Sixty-Five, along with other more subtle differences throughout, now with small text circling the sub-dial proudly lauding the properties of the 401, shared across the family of calibers.
Calibre 403 has manifest in this year’s iteration of Oris’s Holstein Limited Edition, modeled after the Big Crown line. Along with the small seconds shared with Calibre 401, the 403 includes a pointer date, ubiquitous with the other Big Crown pilot watches. This is in a sleek grey with red accents, perhaps a nod to the Oris rotors visible on their Sellita-derived movements, and style-accurate type face for the numerals presenting a very minimalist “art deco a la industrialism”. This is a very limited edition with only 250 available pieces, but if it’s only the caliber you’re interested in, I wouldn’t worry too much if you miss this one.
The missing 402
That’s because we haven’t seen the last of these movements. We haven’t even seen the entirety of the beginning of these movements! We’re still missing the mysteriously neglected and unmentioned “Calibre 402”. Now, unless there is something specifically ominous about the number 402 in Swiss culture that would cause them to skip it entirely (something akin to the lack of 13th floors in older American buildings, otherwise known as floor 14, people — you know what floor you’re really on), I can only surmise that this is an intentional move to prime us for yet another Calibre 400 family release. Because it’s not like they’re designing these sequentially.
The speed at which the folks at Oris have released all of these variations tells that all of these new calibers were complete and waiting in the wings before the first Calibre 400 Aquis was even released. They would have to be (especially, one presumes, for movements with a 10-year warranty riding on them). So now seeing what they’ve released being driven by a 400 or variant, I can consult my crystal ball of careful corporate horological futures to predict a likely model we will see proudly sporting the elusive “Calibre 402”.
Thus far, we’ve gotten two divers and a pilot watch (counting only introductory releases of the calibers); two special editions and a standard. When I look at Oris’s lineup and the common complications, we haven’t yet seen as a 400, we’re left with a chronograph or a GMT. Now, I would love, absolutely love for Oris to release an in-house automatic chronograph within the Calibre 400 family. Can you imagine? A 10-year service interval and antimagnetic; it would blow up the watch world!
However, I’m not so sure that’s the direction the brand will take. Chronographs are, in a word, finicky, and beyond designing one from the ground up, getting said chronograph to the 10-year finish line is nigh improbable. Who knows, I may happily eat my words in a couple of months (and also perhaps be out of a job), but with an Oris Chronograph on my wrist. No, what I think is coming is a GMT with date, under the Propilot umbrella.
I also think it will be an unlimited edition, like the Aquis. That will spread the 400s evenly across Oris’s two most prominent lines — divers and pilots — as well as providing the brand with the full spread of common complications (sans chronograph, of course). But in the self-deprecating/butt-covering way in which we watch writers deliver predictions, I could be very wrong as well. None of us were prepared for the Calibre 400, first revealed in the Aquis. At this point, Oris is no longer the quiet, humble, independent Swiss watchmaker quietly ticking along since 1904. It’s a wild animal, capable of anything. Even a chronograph. Maybe…
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