IN-DEPTH: Is this the best heritage watch of 2016? The Oris Divers Sixty-Five 42mm

Story in a second

No risk of second-album syndrome here – this slightly larger take on the Divers Sixty-Five is a worthy, if slightly more mainstream, follow-up to the original release.

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There must be something good in the water at Hölstein, because Oris has been on fire lately. The 100% mechanical brand has always had a solid following thanks to its no-fuss divers and pilots pieces, but even though the watches represent excellent bang for buck, they’ve always been a little under the radar. That changed last year with the release of the original Divers Sixty-Five, a pitch-perfect reissue that hit all the right notes. Well, Oris has been busy making hay while the sun shines. There are now several new dial versions of the original model, as well as a 42mm limited edition bronze piece, which we’ll be tackling in-depth next week. Today, though, we’re focusing on the new steel 42mm version.

The case

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To be honest, I was quite surprised (and pleased) that Oris kept the original at 40mm, as is only appropriate for such a vintage-feeling watch, but many people wanted it to be a little larger. Well, ask and Oris delivers, with this case bumped up to 42mm, giving a noticeable, but not overwhelming, increase in presence. All the other details are pretty much the same – the bezel with aluminium insert, the awesome, highly domed sapphire crystal and the 100m of water resistance. Sure,   some eyebrows may be raised at a dive watch with that level of WR, but it’s absolutely fine for swimming, and it’s a rating in keeping with the ‘skin diver’ roots of the piece.

The dial

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This is where we see the other big change. Gone are the super-stylised cardinal numerals, replaced instead with much more conservative printed markers, in a cream colour that has a lovely vintage vibe to it. The other difference is that the dial is a wonderfully deep blue. Now, Oris has been very clever here – creating a much more crowd-friendly dial that still stands out from the pack. The Arabic numerals of the previous generation gave the watch its charm, but also turned some people away who found them a little left-field. This  has none of those issues – it’s a textbook vintage-look dive watch dial in a proven design that’s a perennial favourite. But it also avoids homogeneity, thanks to the use of blue instead of black, as well as the nicely retro touch of the trapezoidal date window.

The movement

Ticking away inside is a Sellita Works 200-1, which is essentially the same as the ever-reliable ETA 2824. Not a particularly exciting movement but, for the price, it’s the logical choice.

The bracelet

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Oris offers some great options here – from a handsomely on-trend suede strap, to tropic-style rubber and nice fabric options. Not only are all these straps good quality, they’re also considered choices. It would have been easy to pull out a generic rubber or leather strap, but the brand has gone to the effort of giving you choices that match perfectly with the look of the watch. But for me the real winner is the steel bracelet. Again, it’s a cut above. Oris has replicated the look of an old-school riveted bracelet to a tee, complete with solid links and a subtle taper. The one potential spanner in the works is the lug width. The specs put it at 21mm, which is an uncommon size, and irritating if you’re a fan of popping on aftermarket options – though having said that, you can often get away with 20 or 22mm straps.

The verdict

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At the start of this review I used a debut/second album analogy, and it fits. The original Sixty-Five was the surprising breakthrough no one saw coming, – like Oasis’ Definitely Maybe – compared to this more polished, more poppy second release – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? The original and this 42mm version are both well-executed variations on a theme that are likely to appeal to different people, and I for one can’t wait to see where the Sixty-Five goes next.

Talking point

Do you like the old or the new Sixty-Five more?

Who’s it for?

If you’re looking for a good, everyday watch with a retro flavour that won’t break the bank you could do a lot worse than this guy.

What would we change?

My only (minor) suggestion would be to bring the lug width back to 20mm.

Oris Divers Sixty Five 42mm Australian price

Oris Divers Sixty Five, 42mm, $2800 on strap, $3000 on bracelet

Images by Jason Reekie.

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