A second-time-zone indicator ranks among the most useful watch complications, and not just for pilots and other people who fly frequently. But not all of these time-zone displays operate intuitively. They often have a 24-hour hand that can be reset in single- hour increments via the crown, but a watch of this kind may be better suited for frequent long-distance callers than for frequent flyers because when you’re spending time in a foreign country, you want to be able to read the local time from the ordinary hour hand in 12-hour format. If the central hour hand is adjustable in full- hour steps, you still need to pull out the crown first – and if you mistakenly pull the crown into the wrong position, you run the risk of setting the time incorrectly or temporarily stopping the watch.
A clever arrangement results in a tidy dial with numerals that remain uncropped by other indicators. The inset subdials and the light orange accents go well with the matte black dial. The handsome, no-frills, pilots’ watch design continues on the satin-finished case with turbine spirals on the bezel and ends in the black textile wristband with a folding clasp reminiscent of the buckles on the seatbelts in airplanes.
The clasp not only looks like a seat- belt buckle, it also works the same way, which contributes to its user-friendliness and ease of operation. First, like its airborne counterpart raising the part of the clasp labeled “Lift” opens the clasp, which otherwise stays closed. Second, a clamp mechanism varies the length of the wristband. This allows the wearer to precisely and quickly adjust the band’s length to accommodate any changes in the wrist’s thickness. The wristband feels rather stiff at first, but it becomes more flexible after a few days.
A window of mineral glass in the caseback reveals the basic caliber (ETA 2836), which looks somewhat small compared to the size of the case. Functionality takes precedence over embellishment here, although Oris’s trademark – a red rotor – swings back and forth above the movement.
Range and flight speed are important characteristics in aviation. With a 38-hour power reserve (not including transfusions of energy from the motions of the wearer’s wrist), this Oris is in the usual range for watches encasing standard movements. The precision is satisfactory, too: we measured an average daily gain of 5.5 seconds.
The sophisticated adjustment mechanism for the time zone is complex and leads to a somewhat higher retail price than Oris charges for its simpler models, which are also appreciated for their affordability. But $3,600 is still a very fair price to pay in return for all you get. A comparable, practical second time zone watch can cost significantly more money elsewhere. If you like the styling but can make do without a second time zone, $1,550 will buy you the Big Crown ProPilot Date. And if it’s too sporty for your tastes, you can choose the more elegant variation with an anthracite-colored dial and polished bezel: this model also goes well with a business suit.
The Oris Big Crown ProPilot is the perfect companion for air travelers. It combines a practical and user-friendly second time zone, good legibility, down-to-earth pricing, and a handsome no-frills design.