Oris has developed a bit of a reputation for consistently releasing surprising vintage-inspired pieces. Having said that, their Big Crown 1917 is a little more surprising than most. That’s partly because Oris had no idea the watch that inspired it existed — this little piece of Hölstein history has been sitting in their archives, quietly gathering patina. Happily, someone (who deserves a promotion, just quietly) at Oris noticed it and recognised the potential of their first pilot’s watch, just in time for its 100th anniversary.
Not a foot has been put wrong with the Big Crown 1917; all the elements work in harmony and there’s precisely the right blend of idiosyncratic charm and everyday comfort. The 40mm steel case resembles a converted pocket watch, rounded and pebble-like, with a nicely domed sapphire crystal and onion crown. The dial is warmly retro, with a finely grained silver base with old-school railroad chapter ring, and stylised serif Arabics filled with creamy SuperLuminova that neatly matches the blued steel cathedral hands.
Purists can also breathe a sigh of relief as there’s no date window to mar the purity of the style. Oris also gets major kudos for that little button at two — that’s a pin you need to depress to adjust the time on the watch. Oris had to specially engineer the Sellita Works movement to give it this quirk, which is pretty superfluous these days but was a feature of the 1917 original, so they included it. Cute.
The strap is also a little out of the ordinary these days. It comes with two options — a riveted pilot-style number, but also a less common ‘bund’ style strap, where there’s an extra cuff of leather between you and the caseback. It’s another vintage touch and a surprisingly comfortable and unobtrusive one. All told, this limited edition piece offers a different — less stark — vision of their classic Big Crown, and it’s hard not to be won over by its charm.
Oris Big Crown 1917 Australian availability and pricing
Oris Big Crown 1917, limited to 1917 pieces, $3250