Saturday, January 30, 2016

Oris Aquis Date in Blue 01 733 7653 4155-07 8 26 01PEB

Oris is a rare breed among Swiss brands. There simply aren't that many relatively well known, independent Swiss watchmakers with a design aesthetic truly unique to themselves, and not derived nor shared, with any other. The majority of it's timepieces are priced in the realm of reality, not artificially bloated in order to jack up the prestige of the brand, nor devalued to avoid crossing into some arbitrary market segment or competing with a stablemate brand.

None of that nonsense here. As Oris' tagline goes, real watches for real people.

Case in point is the subject timepiece for today's review, the Oris Aquis Date 300m dive watch, first introduced in 2011. Just one look at the watch and one cannot help but be struck by it's uniqueness. The shape of the case, the dial, hands, the lugs, it simply does not look like most other watch, and no other watch looks like it...except perhaps other Oris dive watches.

The Aquis Date features a 43mm diameter (excluding crown), 13.5mm thick stainless steel case with an integrated lug system with an overall lug-to-lug length of 50.25mm. The case itself is tapered in such a manner that while the case may be 43mm large at the base, at the bezel the diameter is reduced to around 42mm. All of these elements conspire to bring emphasis to its circular shape which makes the watch wear somewhat smaller than what the 43mm figure would suggest. Make no mistake, it looks big, but wears small, and the short protrusion of the lugs from the case itself is at least partly responsible for that. The crown is at the 3 o'clock position, and is surround by finely machined crown guards secured by screws, which complement the dressy-tool dive watch look the timepiece is recognized for.

The case is topped off with a rotating unidirectional 120-click ceramic scratch-resistant bezel, a material choice usually found on significantly more expensive watches, like the 116610 Rolex Submariner or the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean. The bezel is coin-edged all round for easy grip and with a solid action characterized by clear clacks indicating when the bezel is rotated. The aforementioned tapering of the case means that the bezel edge extends free over the case itself, providing clear purchase whether rotating the bezel with bare or gloved fingers. The bezel insert itself may feature a polished or brushed look, depending on the color scheme chosen. On this particular blue model, the ceramic bezel is polished.

Speaking of blue, the blue on the dial is not your typical blue, but a dark blue-grayish hue which may appear blue, gray or black depending on the angle of view and the lighting. Indices are applied, with bluish Super-LumiNova® BG-W9 luminous compound which is also on all hands and the 12 o'clock position of the bezel. Lume is short of Seiko expectations for duration and intensity, but nonetheless very usable, and pretty good in its own right. Far better actually, than the Longines HydroConquest (reviewed here). A date window with white text on a black background is elegantly situated at the six o'clock position. Capping off the dial is a double-domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the inside.

Powering the timepiece is an Oris 733 hacking and hand-winding automatic movement, based on a 28,800 bph Sellita SW-200-1 with 26 jewels and a 38 hour power reserve. Crown manipulation and action are both very good and smooth. Hand-winding is a lot smoother than in most other ETA based movements, though ETA movements seem to be already renowned for that. The movement features Oris' signature red rotor, which is visible through a mineral glass exhibition caseback.

Because of the integrated lug system, your choices of straps or bracelets off the bat are limited to what Oris offers with the watch...which is either a stainless steel bracelet or a vanilla-scented rubber strap. The stainless steel bracelet is a somewhat massive and robust folding clasp affair with solid steel construction, brushed finishing on the center and polished on the sides, a dive extension, secured with screws instead of mundane split pins or pins and collars, and measures 26mm at the lugs, tapering down to 22mm at the clasp.  Aftermarket straps are a no-no unless you invest in one of those lug adapters, but if you're really into aftermarket straps, then this is probably not the right watch for you.

On wrist, the Oris Aquis Date is by no means uncomfortable, though a lot of other watches beat it in wrist comfort. What it is, is substantial. It's not bothersome by any means, but you will always be aware of the fact that you're wearing it. For those who like to feel the heft of their watches, this is a boon. For those who would rather forget that they're wearing a watch at all, look somewhere else, or consider the Oris Aquis Titan, which is made from titanium (albeit with a larger 46mm case), or go for a version with the rubber strap.

If you have smaller wrists, this particular model is also available in 40mm and in ladies' size of 36mm. There are also several color combinations to choose from.

This may not be an investment piece, but if you're looking for a no non-sense affordable dive watch from a respected and well-known Swiss matchmaker with quality rivaling, and at times exceeding  that of more expensive brands, the Oris Aquis Date should be on your list.

Here in the Philippines, they can be bought from authorized dealers at a discounted rate of around 900 USD. It seems they are a bit more expensive in other countries though, with prices in the 1,000 to 1,200 USD range.

Some photos:

Aquis Date.

Screwed crown guards and signed crown.

Tapered case.
Oris' signature red rotor.


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