There is a dizzying spread of watch prices ranging from a pittance to supercar and luxury yacht money, but luckily for the watch enthusiast, classics exist from very accessible tiers. The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date has been in constant production since 1938, and on the yardstick of eight decades’ worth of market relevance, it qualifies. We can no longer get a Toyota AE86 freshly minted from the factory, but we can still get a new Big Crown Pointer Date. Oris has even grown the collection to include two case sizes, choice of case materials and a candy store’s worth of dial colors.
The latest issue of the Big Crown Pointer Date is a collaboration with Cervo Volante, a leather goods company that produces handcrafted footwear and accessories from sustainable wild leather. Each year, some 15,000 wild red deer are culled in Switzerland as part of efforts to control the deer population and protect the Swiss countryside. In the past, very little use was made of the culled animals, until in 2017 when Cervo Volante was started by two friends (a biotech engineer and a biologist, respectively) to utilize the by-products of the culling programme, especially the skins, which would otherwise have been disposed of by burning.
Besides addressing waste, using leather from culled wild deer also reduces the environmental impact of Cervo Volante’s operations. No animal breeding is involved, which means no factory farming, and no over-fertilization of meadows. Moreover, Cervo Volante relies entirely on vegetable tanning at the last two remaining tanneries in Switzerland, without the use of chrome and synthetic pre-tanning agents.
These environmental considerations made Cervo Volante a good match with Oris, which has also been pursuing environmental initiatives for more than a decade, recently consolidated under its Change for the Better programme. We are made to understand that the partnership between Cervo Volante and Oris is not going to be a one-off but something more long term. To start out, Oris Big Crown x Cervo Volante features three gradient dials in grey, blue or green inspired by hues of the alps, with straps, pouch and card holder by Cervo Volante.
In 38mm stainless steel case, the watch is driven by the self-winding Oris 754 based on a Sellita SW200-1, with a central pointer hand for the date, offering 38 hours of power reserve.
What can explain the Big Crown Pointer Date’s staying power while watch designs come and go? Well, it doesn’t do very much; it just does a good job of what it has been asked to do, and not look weird or unpleasant doing it. The dial layout here is clear, easy to read and uncluttered, adequately lumed for the watch to be useful in most lighting conditions. Date windows must have seemed very clever when they first appeared on a wristwatch. But in the right colour tone that appeals to one’s personal taste, a wholly intact dial is beautiful, to say the least. And a gradient dial just makes it seem comfortably worn, to match the straps of wild deer leather.
Oris has a new inhouse movement, the self-winding cal 403 that is used in some of its watches but not here. Five days of power reserve, better-than-chronometer precision and enhanced resistance to magnetic fields that the cal 403 offers sound great, but that would likely come at twice the asking price. With a reduced price from using a generic movement, one can consider taking all three of the dial colours on offer. Nevertheless, if we were to gripe: as the water resistance is a useful but modest 50m, a non-screw-down crown would have made it easier to wind/set the watch.
Movement: Self-winding Oris 754 with 38 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, stop seconds and instantaneous center date
Case: 38mm stainless steel case, sapphire crystal front and back, screw-down crown, water resistant to 5 bar
Strap: Cervo Volante deer leather strap with quick change system
Price: CHF 1,850