After the limited edition in bronze, the Oris Divers Sixty-Five is now finally available as a regular production chronograph model. Unmistakably influenced by history, this watch follows the current retro trend, but offers modern solutions in every detail. We give it an-depth look in this feature from our December 2019 issue, with original photos by Olaf Köster.
In 1965, Oris launched a divers’ watch that was ultramodern for its time. It had a case that remained water resistant to a depth of 100 meters, a unidirectional rotatable bezel and large luminous numerals. Reissued 50 years later as the Divers Sixty-Five, it proves to be one of this manufacturer’s most successful new models – thanks in part to the still-unflagging popularity of the retro trend.
Based on Oris’s First Divers’ Watch
The high-fidelity reissue of the three-handed watch from the 1960s was followed by a retro-modern facelift, various special models – also with innovative wristbands made of recycled plastic – and finally a chronograph. This model too was first released in 2018 as a limited special edition and, after a three-handed watch, was the second Divers Sixty-Five model to be dedicated to Carl Brashear, who became the U.S. Navy’s first amputee diver in 1948 and the first African-American seaman to earn certification as a master diver.
It’s well known that Oris honors noteworthy people with special timepieces and that this brand is committed to environmental protection, to saving the world’s oceans and to other philanthropic causes. What could be more appropriate to Carl Brashear’s biography than a divers’ watch that reflects the style of his era?
The special edition consists almost entirely of bronze, a material that’s currently in vogue in various timepieces, but bronze is used only for the unidirectional rotatable diver’s bezel of this 43-mm serially manufactured chronograph, our test watch. The outfit of the rotatable bezel has changed too. The former massive component with raised numerals has morphed into a blackened aluminum inlay with a flush minutes scale. The bezel clicks into place in 120 individual settings, which makes it difficult to adjust the bezel so it corresponds to the nearest minute with the scale along the dial’s periphery. The difficulty is further exacerbated because the highly domed curvature along the rim of the sapphire crystal tends to distort the view of the rose-gold markings on the black dial.
The strongly curved contours of the crystal allude to the past and contribute to the timepiece’s retro charm. The original crystal was made of plastic in the 1960s, but nowadays the glass above the dial is crafted from scratch-resistant sapphire and given an anti-reflective coating on its underside.
The case’s diameter has grown from 36 to 43 mm over the years and is now made of stainless steel rather than the original chrome-plated brass. But with a water resistance of 100 meters, it isn’t quite as watertight as the cases of most other contemporary divers’ watches. Pressure resistance to 200 and even 300 meters are more in keeping with the current state of the art.
Of course, Oris doesn’t need to prove that this brand can build contemporary divers’ watches. Any doubts are immediately dispelled, for example, by the Oris Aquis or Prodiver model lines, both of which are professional devices with high resistance to pressure and diverse innovations within the collection. The fact that the Divers Sixty-Five can only withstand pressure of 100 meters should be interpreted as an homage to history and is acceptable in this line, even if the name “Divers” would initially suggest a more pressure-resistant case. Bathing, swimming, snorkeling and diving at shallow depths pose no problem at all for the Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph.
This model is an equally pleasant companion on terra firma. Its black dial is dominated by the broad hands and prominent applied indexes that characterize this line. All of the displays are generously filled with yellow Super-LumiNova “Old Radium.” This luminous material underscores the watch’s retro style by day and glows bright green in the dark. Also luminous at night are the hand on the subdial for the continuously running seconds, which shows at a glance that the movement is still running; the chronograph’s elapsed-minutes hand; and, of course, the orientation dot on the unidirectional rotatable divers’ bezel. Only the chronograph’s elapsed seconds remains dark, but every diver knows that the smallest unit of time isn’t very important in this sport, where minutes count most.
Bronze, Retro and Bicompax Reflect Current Trends
When measuring an elapsing interval, the current number of elapsed minutes can be read on the black counter at 3 o’clock. This subdial is slightly recessed and bears anthracite-colored calibrations. The subdial for the continually running seconds is identically styled. It’s positioned diametrically across the dial at 9 o’clock.
Together with its counterpart at 3 o’clock, this results in the so-called bicompax chronograph arrangement, which is just as trendy as retro design nowadays. Retro and bicompax go together perfectly because a chronograph dial with only two counters similarly recalls the past. A bicompax arrangement also gives a dial the clarity and tidiness that are likewise increasingly in demand these days. This fidelity to the past is further accentuated by the absence of a date display and the presence of both a screw-down crown modeled after its original counterpart and little capped push-buttons to operate the chronograph.
The chronograph’s functions can be triggered by pressing the corresponding buttons. The crown can be screwed and unscrewed very conveniently and protrudes quite far from the case in its hand-setting position. The buttons and crown operate Oris’s self-winding Caliber 771, which is based on the Sellita SW510 in its reduced version without date display and without a 12-hour chronograph counter. It runs with only average accuracy and, in some positions, showed even larger deviations of more than 10 seconds per day. Although the mostly unadorned caliber remains hidden behind a massive, opaque, fully threaded back, it is, of course, equipped with Oris’s typical red rotor.
The Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph can be worn with either a leather strap a or stainless-steel bracelet: the leather strap reaffirms the retro style with its stitching and buckle, while the stainless-steel bracelet radiates a sporty, modern charm. The connecting pieces firmly attach the case to the metal wristband, which is supple, soft and culminates in a one-sided folding clasp. Only the process of shortening the bracelet proves somewhat cumbersome because the wristband’s links are pinned rather than screwed together.
Two Expressive Outfits
The bottom line: anyone who is looking for an expressive retro watch will find it in the Oris Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph. This model is convincing thanks to authentic details, which it realizes in a modern way. We would suggest that Oris make some improvements in the fine adjustment of the movement and a simple system to switch from one wristband to another would also be welcome – because even if you wear it with the stainless-steel bracelet, this watch always makes a strong impression.
Manufacturer: Oris SA, Ribigasse 1, 4434 Hölstein, Switzerland
Reference number: 771 7744 4354 8 21 18
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chonograph (central elapsed- seconds hand, 30-minute counter), bezel is rotatable in one direction only
Movement: Oris 771 based on Sellita SW 510, automatic, 28,800 vph, 27 jewels, gold-plated nickle balance, Nivarox hairspring, bipartite index fine adjustment, Incabloc shock absorber, 48-hour power reserve, diameter = 30.0 mm, height = 7.90 mm
Case: Stainless steel/bronze, domed sapphire crystal anti-reflectively treated on its underside, water resistant to 100 meters
Bracelet and clasp: Stainless steel with one-sided stainless-steel folding clasp
Rate results (Deviation in seconds per 24 hours, fully wound/after 24 hours):
On the wrist +7.2
Dial up +5.3 / +8.4
Dial down +6.1 / +8.7
Crown up +10.2 / +11.6
Crown down +7.5 / +12.3
Crown left +3.7 / +7.3
Greatest deviation 6.5 / 5.0
Average deviation +6.6 / +9.7
Flat positions 314° / 298°
Hanging positions 292° / 270°
Dimensions: Diameter = 43.19 mm, height = 16.44 mm, weight = 162.0 grams
Variations: With leather strap: $4,000