WATCH TEST

A Chrono Without a Chrono: Testing the Oris Chronoris Date


The latest version of Oris’s racing watch, the Chronoris Date, has no timing function. Is this good or bad? We take an in-depth look at the watch in this feature from WatchTime’s August 2018 issue.

Oris’s racing chronograph – the Chronoris from 1970 – has been back on the scene since last year, this time making its appearance as a three-hand model: the Chronoris Date. The oval stainless-steel case, a rotating inner bezel for timing minute intervals, the date display and the three centrally mounted hands are unchanged. However, the orange seconds hand is no longer used for the timing function, but is limited to the standard passing of seconds. Oris has deviated from the model’s design as a chronograph nearly half a century after its first issue. But strangely enough, this doesn’t detract from its appeal. It has the same number of hands as the 1970 Chronoris and has an even neater and sportier look than the original.

Oris Chronoris Date - angle
The Oris Chronoris Date is a non-chrono revival of a racing-influenced chronograph from 1970.

How can the number of hands be the same as on the 1970 chronograph? It’s due to the unusual design of the historic model. The Caliber 725, which Oris had built according to its own specifications by chronograph specialist Dubois Dépraz, did not have a continuous seconds or a minutes or hour counter. And there was only a single stopwatch hand in addition to the two hands that showed the time. It was possible to time an interval of several minutes by adjusting the rotating inner bezel with the additional crown at 4 o’clock. This solution, which was certainly more cumbersome to use than a conventional chronograph, enabled Oris to create a clear, minimalistic and unique look with its very first chronograph.

The current Chronoris looks even tidier than the original model, mainly because it has no tachymeter track, which is unnecessary without a timing function. And the silver-tone rotating inner bezel, which replaces the original orange three-quarter inner ring, increases the symmetry of the dial. Oris has kept the orange color for the stopwatch hand and also to highlight the hour markers.

1970 Monaco Grand Prix
The year of the first Chronoris: Formula 1 driver Piers Courage speaking with racing team founder Frank Williams at the 1970 Monaco Grand Prix.

The watch’s unique steel bracelet, with no less than 15 rows of links and a safety folding clasp, fits well with the sporty retro design. It looks good and feels great thanks to curved links and solid construction with screwed pins. The single-sided folding clasp with deployant buttons lies snugly against the wrist. Scratches that naturally occur are simply part of the package and could only be avoided with complicated surface hardening.

The linked bracelet is attached to the oval case in a way that suggests a ‘70s look. Like the 1970 model, the entire case is polished except for the radiant satin top. And the caseback is not transparent. While this adds to the spirit of authenticity, we would have liked to have a see-through back. Instead, the Chronoris case is sealed with a fully threaded steel caseback with only a historic Oris emblem engraved on top. The automatic Sellita SW200 movement is undecorated except for the rotor with a red center section that symbolizes the brand’s exclusively mechanical watches.

Oris Chronoris Date -soldier
The unique bracelet is attached to the case in a way that suggest a 1970s look.

The case is quite thin for a sports watch, measuring in at 12.4 mm. The Chronoris Date is a pleasure to wear and operating it is effortless. The pull-out winding and setting crown at 2 o’clock is large and easy to grasp and the screw-down crown at 4 o’clock, which is used to adjust the rotating inner bezel, has even deeper grooves for a better grip. Unscrewing and releasing this crown allows it to stand out prominently from the case, for ease of use. The inner minutes ring ratchets cleanly and, thanks to its half-minute precision, it can be easily aligned even when the hand is between two markers.

The overall wearability is also aided by good rate results, because no one wants to reset an everyday watch, which is what the Chronoris Date is – in the best sense. Our timing test gave us an all clear. Although the timing machine showed a wide distribution of individual results in the various positions, the average gain of only 3.7 seconds per day is rather low. Several weeks of real-life wear showed even better results with a lower daily average of +2 to +3 seconds.

Oris Caliber 733
The Sellita Caliber SW200 made for Oris has a rotor with a red center.

The Chronoris Date is a well- designed, user-friendly, retro sports and everyday watch. Is it the perfect watch? No. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing. You may have to make some cuts and decide for yourself if they matter. Drawbacks might include the simply processed hands whose painted finish on the sides is less uniform than on the top. Sharp eyes can see grainy surfaces on the white hour and minutes hands; this is less apparent on the orange seconds hand, though it can be seen with magnification.

The caseback is also modest in its finishing, and executed in solid stainless steel instead of with a transparent sapphire crystal. The enclosed back is appropriate for a model that recalls an era before today’s more popular see-through casebacks, but the engraving of the vintage Oris emblem to mark the Chronoris as a re-edition of an earlier model is not that impressive.

Despite the modest finishing of the caseback and hands, watch fans will still be getting a deal with the Chronoris Date at a price of $1,950. Sports watches with such desirable qualities are just as much of a trend as exciting retro designs – especially if they are not exact replicas of the originals. The best ones bring features to the present in a meaningful and stylish way. That’s how a chronograph with no chrono justifies itself – with charm and style.

Norman Graham Hill - British Racing Driver
All in the family: When the original Chronoris was issued, British racing driver Damon Hill’s father, Graham Hill, was a successful driver in various racing series.

SPECS:

Manufacturer: Oris SA, Ribigasse 1, 4434 Hölstein, Switzerland
Reference number: 733 7737 4053
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Movement: Sellita SW200 “Spécial,” auto-matic, 28,800 vph, 26 jewels, hack mechanism, quick date adjustment, Incabloc shock absorber, fine regulator with eccentric screws, 38-hour power reserve, diameter= 25.6 mm, height = 4.6 mm
Case: Stainless steel, curved sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating, bidirectional inner bezel for minute-precise timing and screw-down crown, fully threaded stainless-steel caseback, water resistant to 100 m
Bracelet and cla­­sp: Stainless steel with one-sided safety folding clasp
Rate results (deviation in seconds per 24 hours):
Dial up +4
Dial down +7
Crown up -3
Crown down +8
Crown left +2
Crown right +4
Greatest deviation 11
Average deviation +3.7
Average amplitude:
Flat positions 313°
Hanging positions 287°
Dimensions: Diameter = 39 mm, height = 12.4 mm, weight = 122 grams
Variations: With black dial; with rubber, textile, or black or brown leather strap ($1,750)
Price: $1,950

SCORES:
Bracelet and clasp (max. 10 points): The 15-row (!) stainless-steel bracelet has curved links that fit the wrist very nicely, plus screw connectors and a sturdy single- sided folding clasp. 9
­­­Operation (5): Grooved crowns and a solidly ratcheting bezel. Quick date adjustment and hack mechanism make setting the time easy. 5
Case (10): The case is well executed but the solid caseback is only engraved on the surface. 7
Design (15): This watch is sportier and more cleanly designed than the original from 1970. 13
Legibility (5): The time and date are easy to read but the minutes hand is too short and the minutes track is too busy for accurate minute reading. 4
Wearing comfort (10): The streamlined case, supple bracelet and ergonomic clasp lie comfortably on the wrist. 10
Movement (20): The tailor-made rotor is the only decoration on the Sellita SW200 movement. 10
Rate results (10): Acceptable average daily gain of 3.7 seconds on the timing machine and 2 to 3 seconds on the wrist. Points are subtracted here for maximum deviation of 11 seconds. 6
Overall value (15): The price is appropriate. 12
Total: 76 POINTS

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