Does It Look Like It’s Going To Be A Monday Morning On Autopilot? In That Case, Wear A Colorful Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400
I was looking for a watch that I shall not mention in the Fratello safe, but instead, I stumbled upon some watches that I liked but had doubts about when I first saw them last spring. My eyes fell on three versions of the Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400, neatly tucked away side by side in a watch box. In particular, the blue and pink versions grabbed my attention. The gray, my favorite at the time of release, I left behind in the safe, but the two colored iterations took a turn on my wrist throughout the day. And seeing and enjoying the matte pink and blue dials made me fantasize about possible future color variations.
It’s the combination of having Watches and Wonders 2023 just around the corner and the Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 (€4,200) in pink and blue taking a turn on my wrist. All the Fratelli seem to be in prediction mode, so to speak. “What will brand X bring out this year?” “Will there be a new version of model Y?” and so on. Seeing the three titanium “PPX” watches made me realize how cool and daring their dials actually are in a very subtle, almost introverted way. On paper, brushed titanium in combination with a matte dial sounds like the perfect sleeping pill. In reality, the soft, shimmering appearance of the three PPX models enhances the angular shapes and details of a contemporary tool watch. The result is a timepiece that looks just as at home in everyday life as it does in the cockpit.
Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 — time for more colors we can’t find the right names for
The ProPilot X Calibre 400 caused a bit of a stir when it came out, especially with fans of the Divers Sixty-Five, a blatant retro creation. The PPX doesn’t look back. It has its sights on the future, and for that reason alone, we should applaud it. With the PPX, Oris showed that a watch in a modest, dare I say traditionally sized case can be very contemporary. The 39 × 47 × 11.8mm PPX is modern, although it also has one foot in traditional sizing territory. The dynamic shape of the turbine bezel and angular bracelet are prominent but not obnoxious (unlike the steel and gold Aquis Date Calibre 400 in green and blue, in my humble opinion). The PPX is an exercise in design restraint. Yes, restraint. Even the original pink version is somewhat reserved.
Gray, blue, and pink?
I left the gray version in the safe, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like the watch with its dark luminescent hands, date disc, and indices. I do, but the soft navy shade of the blue one and the pink version immediately grabbed my attention and got me thinking. The pink one was on my wrist first, and I couldn’t help but think of my dear Danish friend Kristian Haagen, who dubbed the watch’s dial color “pigskin.” I don’t know about your feelings towards swine. Mine are very positive, by the way, but even a fondness for cute piglets doesn’t change the fact that the denomination “pigskin” is somewhat demeaning. Calling it the “Peppa Pig” shows a bit more appreciation for the soft-colored pilot’s watch.
But is the Oris PPX “Peppa Pig” really pink? It also looks a bit orange. My colleague Ben, an unapologetic Oris fan, described the dial color as a vibrant shade of papaya orange. And salmon also comes to mind, but for some reason, matte and salmon don’t match in my experience. A salmon-colored dial needs to be shiny and radiant. Well, “radiant” the colored dials of the PPX surely are not. Not in the traditional sense of the word, anyway. However, they are intriguing, captivating, and yes, even charismatic and magnetic.
Not just matte and functional but also textured and delicately rich
Functionality is paramount for a pilot’s watch. Readability should be intuitive and instant, and that’s why a shiny dial has no place in one. It’s that simple. Shiny stuff distracts, while matte stuff doesn’t. Oris stuck to those traditional rules and then interpreted them. A matte finish doesn’t rule out colors, and this fact led Oris down a colorful path. And matte is not just matte. When you take a closer look, the dials reveal a very fine graining, a subtle texture that adds richness.
I know people who lament the lack of applied indexes or the absence of blocks of luminous material that you see in some modern-day watches. I’m not one of them. Oris went for a minimalist design approach with functionality in mind, and the result is balanced and pleasing. It forces the wearer to really inspect the details and make an effort to understand the design choices. But when you do make an effort to understand something you don’t get instantly, it can pay off. For instance, it took me a while to dig the speed, sound, and structure of “Master of Puppets” by Metallica, but because I persevered, at a certain moment, all the pieces fell into place, and now it’s an all-time metal favorite of mine.
Feeling the PPX
The modern PPX wears like a dream because of its moderate, will-fit-any-wrist case size, but also because the titanium timepiece is a flyweight. It’s every inch/gram a modern pilot’s watch indeed. A nice wink to the world of aviation is the seatbelt-style “LIFT” clasp of the titanium bracelet. That striking bracelet seems to be a mixture of geometrically and organically shaped parts. The multitude of facets brings to mind the shapes of the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk — a retired stealth fighter jet — and the scaled skin of a robotized T. rex. The angular appearance of the bracelet and clasp matches the turbine look of the bezel and large, screw-down crown, and it is strong but not too aggressive. It must be the brushed, gray look of the titanium that keeps the PPX from seeming like an obtrusive creature.
Future colors on the wish list
As I wrote before, with Watches and Wonders around the corner, everybody is either making predictions or sharing wish lists. Some colors I wouldn’t mind seeing in the second batch of PPXs are red, green, and yellow. But not just any shades of red, green, and, yellow, of course. I’m thinking raspberry red, avocado green, and saffron yellow; subtle shades for color connoisseurs. Visualizing these shades makes me a little impatient, but I will try to keep it together. In two weeks, I will find out if my color wishes come true.
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