Basel 2018: Oris — The Fourth IterationBy Adi Soon
When Oris launched Caliber 110 in 2014, it signaled a serious intent by the brand mostly known for rugged sporty watches with a diving or aviation theme to up its game. Up till then, the movements that had powered the brand’s watches were mostly ETA-based and, although reliable, did not represent a unique differentiating factor.
Caliber 110 changed all that in one fell swoop, for it not only marked the appearance of the brand’s first modern in-house caliber since 1982, it also showed, through its technical strengths, the ambitions of the brand. Indeed, Oris was not content to make a regular automatic movement with the intention of replacing the ETA-based calibers. Instead, Caliber 110 was a manual-winding movement, with a relatively large diameter of 34mm and a 10-day power reserve, that could serve as the foundation for additional complications. In short, it was an excellent movement that portended exciting new watches from Oris.
Caliber 111, a watch that appeared in Baselworld 2015, added a useful date function, and its movement reappeared later in the same year in the Big Crown ProPilot Caliber 111, with a slightly different case. The next version, the Caliber 112, was launched in 2016, with a dual-time subdial, in addition to the subdials for small seconds and power reserve. The three subdials gave a slightly more elegant aesthetic to the line. 2017’s Caliber 113, contained an uncommon complication — a week-of-the-year indicator, with a centrally mounted hand pointing to the 52 markings at the edge of the dial, indicating the week of the year.
The launch of the new Oris Caliber 114 at Baselworld 2018 represents the latest iteration of Oris’ promise to create high-quality watches with its in-house movements, and this new movement is certainly looking to be the best version so far. Compared to the first Caliber 110, which came with only time, small seconds and a power-reserve indicator, Caliber 114 looks more complex with a date and GMT function added to the mix. It must be noted that while the Oris Caliber 112 also had a GMT function, this complication was contained in a small subdial and did not have the more traditional centrally mounted hand that one associates most with GMT watches.
With Caliber 114 bringing the more familiar layout of the GMT function to the series, it will probably become one of the top watches in the collection, not least because, from a functional standpoint, it has everything that one could ask for in a daily watch. In fact, when Caliber 111 (which added a date function) was introduced, I had suggested to Oris that the GMT function should be in the next variant to be done. My reasons were simple: the complexity of its execution would be relatively low, and in the hierarchy of complications that “real people” actually use, the GMT function would be the second most useful after the date function.
While Oris did answer my suggestion with the Caliber 112, the design had too much of a gentile and elegant quality, which somewhat limited its appeal if one wanted a sporty-looking watch. Caliber 114 remedies this shortcoming with an overtly sporty demeanor, and a suite of complications that go up very well against a handful of other brands on the market that offer similar ingredients: a relatively large movement (with the requisite real estate for a superb caseback view), long power reserve, manual winding and date. Yet Oris does the same thing at a much better price.
The Caliber 114, in all functions, works exactly the same way as the Caliber 111 in terms of how you set the date and time. The only difference is that when you pull out the crown to the setting position, the 24-hour hand is engaged, jumping to easily allow one to set the GMT time against the 24-hour scale around the edge of the dial in half-hour increments. While this watch may not be what I would term a “true” GMT — meaning one in which an adjustment through the crown makes the hour hand, instead of the 24-hour hand, jump, I am willing to overlook it in this instance, because of the tremendous amount of utility packed into this watch. Setting the time while en route to a city far away is an excuse to manipulate the crown and to engage the manual-winding aspect of the watch that makes wearing it so much fun. And remember whenever you give it a full wind to fill up its 10-day power reserve, you essentially need to do it three times a month.
As the highlight piece for Oris at Baselworld 2018, Caliber 114 certainly has the ingredients to become one of the most well-received variants of the series. It may just be the watch to make those who are on the fence finally jump to acquire one.