The pilot’s watch category is one of the most popular segments in the watch industry. With the number of pilot’s watches on the market, each new novelty has to be that much more strategic to figure out how to capture the hearts of buyers. To stand out, you have to be true to the design language an aviation watch requires while also weaving in fresh elements to distinguish your novelty. This is where the Oris Pro Pilot TLP Limited Edition succeeds, introducing a watch with clear aviation purpose while not rehashing familiar pilot’s designs. This limited-edition watch of 750 pieces was created in partnership with the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP), an elite pilot training school based in the Spanish city of Albacete. Founded in 1978, TLP prepares NATO allied coalition forces for worldwide tactical air operations.
The 44mm gun-metal grey PVD stainless-steel case is definitely on the larger side, but fortunately the lugs have a downward slope that will work to hug the wrist better. Based on the measurement of previous generation Pro Pilot’s from Oris, I think it is safe to infer the lug to lug measurement is larger than 50mm – but not by much (within a few millimetres). The case aesthetic is pure business from the front with a satin-finished bezel and lug hoods, but a nice contrast appears in the caseband of the watch rendered in a mirror polish. The outer bezel ties perfectly into the aviation theme with a slanted coining that gives off the look of a turbine.
A really neat aspect to highlight here, in regard to the case integrity, is the fact that this pilot’s watch offers impressive water resistance – up to depths of 100 metres. The screw-down crown further ensures the watch is protected against harmful moisture intrusion.
The matte olive green dial emulates the typical soldierly garb really well. Despite this military bearing, the dial has a certain softness to it through its elegant simplicity. The Arabic numerals are listed as beige in tone, but to my eye in pictures it looks to be more of a crisp white. The rounded applied numerals are highly legible, like what you find on a typical wall clock in school, and they add depth to what is, in its roots, a sportier timepiece. The Oris logo, dial text, and minute hashes are certainly beige/khaki in colour (a nod to the eagle logo of the TLP), but the hours/minutes hands and hour indices are white in tone – coated with SuperLuminova® for added visibility in darkness. As for complication, you not only get the date on display at 3′, but also the day. The double aperture that houses white on black discs does very little to interrupt the dial – a nice addition of a complication that doesn’t make the dial too busy.
The 22mm green Ventile® strap matches the tone of the dial and provides the wearer with a tough yet comfortable means to fasten the watch to their wrist. Ventile® is a high-performance textile first used to make the immersion suits that British fighter pilots wore in World War II. Sir Edmund Hillary also famously wore a jacket made from the material when he first summited Everest. The strap has a leather underside, giving you the tough outer Ventile® to take on the perils of daily wear with the added comfort of leather to hug the skin. The strap is secured by a gun-metal grey PVD stainless-steel lift folding clasp, a nice upgrade from the standard pin/buckle system. From an aesthetic point of view, it kind of looks like the seatbelt that would harness a pilot during flight.
Inside the watch is the Oris caliber 752, based on the Sellita SW220-1, which offers 38 hours of power reserve. The movement features an instantaneous date and day complication, date and day adjustment, and hacking seconds. I agree with Oris’ design choice here to utilise a solid caseback in favour of a sapphire exhibition caseback. It not only better serves the sports watch design, but also provides real estate to proudly display a TLP engraving with the eagle emblem and limited-edition number of the watch. Plus it saves precious millimetres in thickness.
Alongside the civilian model, Oris is also offering pilots graduating from TLP the opportunity to own a bespoke edition that will carry their name, program year and limited-edition number on the case back. So while buyers are presented with the civilian option only, its nice to know you may very well be wearing a watch actually used by military pilots.
Oris Pro Pilot TLP Limited Edition pricing and availability:
The Oris Pro Pilot TLP Limited Edition of 750 pieces will be available March 2021. The watches are presented in an olive and orange travel pouch and with a card holder, where the warranty card will be, both in Ventile®. Price: CHF 2,200