Oris has a long tradition in the design and production of pilot's watches that are accurate, reliable and reasonably priced. The first Oris watch designed for pilots was the 1938 Big Crown Pointer Date with its oversized crown and pointer date function, a design that would become the Oris signature.
Oris is now announcing a breakthrough with the Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter, the world’s first automatic mechanical watch with a mechanical altimeter (the Breva Genie was the first mechanical watch with a mechanical altimeter but it is hand-wound, not automatic).
The most complicated pilot’s watch Oris has ever made, the Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter has been developed entirely by Oris in the Hölstein factory to serve as a high-performance tool for pilots, mountaineers, explorers and research scientists, who work at altitude.
The 47mm multi-piece stainless steel case houses an automatic movement - the Oris Calibre 733 beating at 28,800 vph and offering a 38-hour power reserve - with the integration of a Swiss mechanical barometric altimeter and barometer movement.
Making the altimeter mechanism small enough to fit inside a wristwatch required Oris to design a special carbon fiber altimeter hand, extremely light but stiff enough to avoid tolerances and therefore inaccurate readings. A big challenge for Oris engineers was protecting the watch from moisture when the altimeter is activated. The solution was a new patented altimeter adjustment and venting crown, which prevents moisture from entering the watch using a membrane made of PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene also known as Teflon), which creates a vapour barrier.
The Oris Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter has two crowns. The first, at 2 o’clock, adjusts the time and date, and can be used to wind the watch if needed. The second, a screw-down crown at 4 o’clock, operates the altimeter, whose scale is displayed around the outer dial ring.
When screwed down into ‘Position 0’, the altimeter is inactive and the watch is water-resistant to 10 bar. The altimeter is activated by unscrewing the crown into ‘Position 1’, indicated by a red ring. Once set, the watch shows the current altitude via the yellow indicator. It also shows the corresponding air pressure, whose scale is recessed between the altimeter scale and the central dial, via the red indicator. To calibrate the altimeter, the crown can be pulled into 'Position 2'.
The Oris Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter can measure altitude up to 15,000 feet or 4,500 metres. Two models have been produced, one with a scale in feet (ref. 733 7705 4134 TS), the other in metres (ref. 733 7705 4164 TS).
The Oris Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter can be combined to a green, grey or black textile strap with stainless steel folding clasp or to a metal bracelet. Available from September 2014, its retail prices will be Swiss Francs 3,300 with the textile strap or Swiss Francs 3,500 with the bracelet.