Recently, after a research in the company’s Hölstein archives, it was discovered that Oris first made watches for pilots in the early 1910s. Until this discovery, Oris believed that its first pilot’s watch was the Big Crown of 1938, an iconic piece of design named after its oversized crown that still informs the company’s aviation-inspired watches today.
One catalogue featured a pocket watch with a Blériot airplane engraved on its case. Louis Blériot, the French pioneer aviator, successfully completed the first flight across the English Channel on July 25, 1909. The same research uncovered what appears to be Oris’s first pilot’s wristwatch, and also one of its first wristwatches. The round, brass-cased watch had a big crown, an aluminium dial and a pin-lever movement, and was essentially a pocket watch with wire loop lugs soldered to its case. This was common practice during the First World War as officers looked for practical ways of wearing watches and as aerial warfare developed.
Oris celebrates the discovery of its first pilot’s wristwatch with a special limited edition piece made in homage to the original. Faithfull to the original model in its aesthetics, the Big Crown 1917 Limited Edition has the same onion-shaped big crown, the same early 20th century Arabic numerals, the same blued steel hands, and the same domed glass. Even the vintage Oris logo has been revived.
Oris has incorporated a contemporary mechanical calibre into the watch, Calibre 732, which the company’s watchmakers have engineered so that the time can only be adjusted when the button at 2 o’clock is pushed down, in keeping with a quirk of the original.
The case is polished stainless steel and water-resistant to 5 bar, and set on a beautifully crafted brown leather cuff strap with a stainless steel pin buckle. The bubble-curved glass is made of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and the Arabic numerals and hands are finished with luminescent Super-LumiNova®.
The Oris Big Crown 1917 Limited Edition has a number of additional special touches. The case back is embossed with the original ‘OWC’ trademark, which stood for ‘Oris Watch Company’ and was used as a ‘Poinçon de Maître’ quality stamp on Oris’s 18-carat gold watches.
The case back also carries the limited edition number – only 1,917 examples will be made. The final flourish is a travel pouch, which contains an additional leather strap with twin rivets, as per the original, and a stainless steel pin buckle.
The Oris Big Crown 1917 Limited Edition will be available in August, price CHF 2,400.
Model: Oris Big Crown 1917 Limited Edition
Ref. No. 01 732 7736 4081 LS, Ø 40.00mm
Limited to 1,917 pieces
Automatic movement Oris Cal. 732, based on Sellita SW 200-1
Time adjustment via pusher at 2 o’clock
Polished multi-piece stainless steel case and crown
Water-resistant to 5 bar
Bubble-curved sapphire crystal domed on both sides with anti-reflective coating inside
Screwed stainless steel case back with embossed original ‘OWC’ Oris Watch Company logo and engraved limited edition number
Silver dial with printed numerals filled with Super-LumiNova®, blued steel hour and minute hands filled with Super-LumiNova®
Brown leather cuff strap with stainless steel pin buckle
Set includes leather travel pouch and additional leather strap with stainless steel pin buckle
Swiss retail price CHF 2,400