#TBT Oriosa Superautomatic — The Rescue Mission For The Real Snowflake
On today’s #TBT, I’d like to share this beautifully aged Oriosa Superautomatic with its really unusual “snowflake” hour hand. If only it had a nice bezel, it would definitely be one of the shining stars in my collection.
You regularly ask me privately where and how I go fishing for watches. Well, this Oriosa, which I had never heard of before I saw it, is a good example of one of my wish-list expansion techniques. Some auction houses allow you to save your searches and will notify you by email when a new listing that fits your keywords is added. You have to think carefully, though, because many auction sites limit your searches and you can’t have an unlimited number of saved search entries.
Oriosa Superautomatic under siege
I don’t remember my initial search result in this case, but here is what I usually do when I’m checking auction houses. When the site displays an item, I always scroll through a few lots listed before or after it. If I am not lazy and I have enough time, I open the whole auction and check all the listings. And that’s how I bumped into this Oriosa that instantly attracted my eyes. It was listed together with two other equally beaten-up watches.
A must-have win
As you can see above, it had splashes of white color all over the crystal. The bezel was literally locked in its position by the dirt accumulated over the years around the edge of the crystal. The date magnifier was a strong indicator that the crystal might be original. If you forget the watches on the left and right, you can notice the hands almost ideally placed at 10:10 for a perfect shoot. Judging by the watch companions on either side, I assume the hands’ position is purely random. But it’s as amusing as the lume that, as you can see, has aged to the most desirable color tones.
The real snowflake?
But equally as fascinating as the aged lume is the shape of the hour hand. In 1968, Tudor introduced its second generation of the Submariner references 7016 and 7021 and the iconic watch-hand style known as “snowflake hands”. But looking at the Oriosa Superautomatic, I would say we now have a better candidate for the nickname.
Based on the case diameter and style of the dial, I would date the Oriosa Superautomatic to the 1960s. Without any valid evidence, my wild guess is that the Oriosa Superautomatic might have been introduced before the Tudor “Snowflake” Submariner. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any catalogs or print ads to verify the release date.
Pure and simple
With no hesitation at all, I can say the watch face is epic. With tons of diver’s watches from the era, it stands out big time to me. The overall attractive design is not accidental. It’s a simple matte black dial with the most essential signature trait we all know from the Rolex 6538 — a mix of thin and slightly fatter short minute hashes held together by a thin ring encircling the dial. For me, it is the most iconic minute track for a sport’s watch. Ever.
A short thought about lume application
The best match for that is nothing other than fat lume indexes. Recently, we discussed with other collectors how ignorant and amateurish some brands were when applying lume on some of their watches. Surprisingly, we didn’t have some B-class or C-class brands in mind. As seen in a range of fascinating chronographs, Gallet, one of my all-time favorite brands, had some of the lousiest lume jobs ever. If you hovered over the dial of a Breitling Cosmonaute with a UV lamp, what you see might also leave you speechless.
Lume is the new steel
The Oriosa Superautomatic is a stellar example of how to get a lume job done right. It’s so precise and fat that it changes the lume from a filling material into a self-standing object. Have a closer look at the triangle at 12 o’clock or any other lume dot, and we can all agree that I can call them applied indexes.
The only weak spot…
…is the bezel, which has been beaten to death. It’s impossible to read it from 10 to 40, and you can tell that it saw some serious action. I found three or four other Oriosa Superautomatic watches, and they were all way worse for the wear. Surprisingly enough, despite being beaten heavily, moisture never got into the case. If you look at the picture above, you can see what the bezel should look like. The green triangle and unusual font give the bezel a quite unique style. I’ve been hunting one for some time now, but have had no luck so far. If you ever see one, I would gladly jump on it.
Little big watch
I was surprised that Oriosa Superautomatic is only 35.something millimeters in diameter. Honestly, it feels so present and quite beefy on the wrist, but I suppose we can thank the NATO strap for that too. I am a leather-strap guy, but I had no other strap when Oriosa arrived. You know, I was too lazy to unstrap another watch, so I put it on a soft, finely woven NATO strap. I thought it was only for a tryout, but I have never taken that strap off since. I really find it fits perfectly while offering superb comfort.
The Felsa 4007N movement isn’t special enough to be highlighted, but it works reliably since I got it serviced. Another detail I like is a white date disc with striking red lettering. Black printing would be more subtle, but I really like it as it adds the missing red element you can see on Rolex ref. 6538. I am not sure if this watch’s crown is original or not. It’s heavily beaten, but I didn’t bother to change it, since the watch has an automatic movement anyway.
There is still a lot to be explored in the field of under-€500 vintage watches. This one has a very clean design housed in a case with nicely beveled lugs. It’s a no-BS design that was done really right. And this is a pure tool watch, as proven by the level of abuse it has sustained over the years. And we shall not forget the unique hour hand that gives it a lot of charm and a special touch. This Oriosa Superautomatic was a random and a pretty lucky catch, but this is it. If you are persistent, from time to time, you do get rewarded. It brings a lot of excitement and keeps you moving towards a new adventure. Happy hunting.