Editor’s note: There’s no denying that dual time, or GMT watches are useful. They’re also a bit of a pain if you want to change time zones on the fly. Well, the ingenious Oris Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer takes that minor irritation out of the equation, and how!
The story in a second
It’s all in the bezel.
One of the more interesting watches to come across my desk in recent months is this Oris ProPilot Worldtimer. Now, at first glance, you might wonder why, as it looks every inch a regular ProPilot, albeit one with a second time zone on display. But this sturdy pilot’s watch has a trick up its proverbial sleeve – an innovative and awesomely user-friendly time zone adjustment method. Add this novel feature to Oris’ already proven robust build quality and versatile style and the ProPilot Worldtimer is an automatic finalist in the ‘Best dual-timer of 2017’ awards.
First things first. The case. This particular Big Crown definitely lives up to the ‘big’ moniker, coming in at a substantial 44.7mm across and sitting roughly 12mm high. Getting the watch wet isn’t too much of a concern, thanks to the grippy screw-down crown and 100 metres of water resistance. The style of the case follows the familiar form of the ProPilot: simple, sturdy, and with the distinctive coin-edged bezel with polished top ring. But this bezel isn’t just for show. In an ingenious bit of engineering, a simple twist of this bi-directional bezel adjusts the main hour hand in single hour increments, forwards or backwards. It’s one of the most intuitive and impressive adjustment methods I’ve used. One might almost say it’s idiot-proof.
While the bezel mechanism is completely new, the Oris Cal. 69 that it interacts with actually debuted back in 1997. This movement, based on an ETA-2836-2, is one of Oris’ most significant, thanks to its extremely user-friendly functionality. Not only can the wearer simply change the local time without the need to take the watch off the wrist (earlier models used two pushers to allow forward and backwards adjustment), it also features a patented automatic backwards date adjustment mechanism, meaning that if you adjust the time backwards over midnight, the date takes a step back too. Home time is displayed in the subdial at three, with an inset day/night indicator. Interestingly, Oris has included a minutes hand on the home time display, and this small hand is one of my few gripes about the watch. After some time on the wrist, I noticed that the minutes hands on the home and local time displays didn’t *quite* match up. I asked some friends who’ve owned Cal. 69 watches in the past, and they were familiar with the issue. Oris explained that this was the result of gear lash, a quirk of fitting a modular complication onto a base calibre, and that the hands align after a few minutes of running, which I found to be the case. Not something that most people would notice, but if you’re a touch OCD about your watches it might bother you.
The dial of this watch is classic pilot. And while there’s a dressier anthracite option (which would look nice on the croc strap), the plain black is the winner in my book. It’s clear and legible, with a yellow note on the small seconds at nine and the day/night indicator. The printed luminous numerals are well proportioned, and the hands are supremely legible. It’s not a dial that breaks new ground stylistically, but it’s easy to read and refreshingly uncomplicated. What more could you want?
If you’re feeling fancy, there’s a Louisiana alligator option, as well as a metal bracelet, but the rough and ready khaki-coloured textile strap is my pick, and perfectly suits the purposeful style of the watch. The single fold deployant is a nice touch too, as the buckle fastening is inspired by an aircraft seatbelt, right down to the ‘lift’ instruction.
On the wrist
I spent a good amount of time wearing the ProPilot Worldtimer — perhaps more than was strictly necessary for review purposes, which is always a good sign. It’s fair to say that in this particular configuration it’s more of a casual timepiece, but that suits me to a T. My only regret was that I wasn’t wearing it as I jetted around the globe, giving me a legitimate reason to twist that bezel. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, not once did I accidentally bump the watch into a different time zone.
I was sold on this watch as soon as I twisted the bezel. It’s a seriously cool feature. The fact that it looks great and doesn’t cost the earth only seals the deal. Proof — if more was needed — that Oris is on fire.
Who’s it for?
If you’re a platinum frequent flyer, this Oris is worthy of your attention.
What would we change?
As I said, my only issue was the alignment issue of the minutes hands. The simplest solution, in my eyes, would be to remove the minutes hand on the home time.
Oris Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer Australian pricing
Oris Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer, on textile strap, $4800; on bracelet or alligator strap, $5000