If there is one watch brand that has always fascinated me, it is Oris. The company has made watches for more than 100 years, but has strangely only moved to producing high-end pieces in recent years.
This would normally be a recipe for disaster because moving to the creation of high-end watches is far from easy and has to be built up over many decades. However, today we have a company making some of the best value watches in the market and one which is managing to create individuality in the most subtle of ways.
I bought the Aquis Date last weekend for £900 (haggled down from £1,200 which you can do in most jewellers by the way) and it was the culmination of thoughts I have been having for the past 2 years. To get to the amount involved selling 4 watches, buying 2, fixing them and then re-selling them at a profit. The end result was that I had £1,000 to spend on a daily wear watch that satisfied my watch nerd brain and which also ticked a few horological boxes.
It had to be a diver’s watch and ideally one which mixed the past with the present.
It had to be mechanical (automatic) and using a movement that could potentially work for many years without assistance.
The lume needs to work all through the night.
The build quality must be exceptional with decent finishing.
It had to be an Oris.
The Aquis Date ticks all of those boxes and more because the form and function are easily some of the best I have experienced in my time wearing a variety of watches. For value vs quality, only Seiko is comparable alongside some smaller manufacturers. In my opinion, the likes of TAG Heuer, Gucci and so many other watch makers who sell their watches from and up to £1,000 only offer a name and little else. When I walked into the jewellers I was wearing a £1,000 TAG Formula One watch which, while looking quite smart and being exceptionally accurate thanks to whatever quartz movement it is using, is effectively an charmless piece of steel with little to no class. It may come over that I have something against TAG Heuer and that is because I have.
The problem with brands like TAG is that for 98% of people they will look at the TAG on your wrist and be impressed. They will think it is one of the best watches in the world and that is, sadly, the admiration many watch wearers are after. Say you are wearing an Oris and they will look at you perplexed. But then again I wear a watch for me, not for strangers. And as Oris says in its marketing ’Real watches for real people’.
Anyway, on to the watch itself.
I tried a couple on and this one just felt right. At first the yellow markings did not jump out at me because I am a sucker for orange in anything and tend to prefer blue faces (the blue that TAG uses ironically), but there is a simplicity to the colours here that makes the Aquis Date feel classic in a modern way. Also, in the different lighting the colours change to the human eye. In bright sunlight the yellow pops and at night in artificially lighting, there is a classic gold texture to the markings. Both work well and it’s kind of nice to have a watch that looks different depending on the time of day.
Build quality really is superb and this is demonstrated in the watch itself, the strap links and the buckle which all offer a sense of robustness that could take literally anything that is thrown at them. Add to that the way it all comes together to create a timepiece that flows over the wrist in a way that I have never experienced with lower-end watches. It comes down to the lighting again. Light catches the face, which is anti-reflective to a point, and it continues to flow over the bezel so that it looks as if the two pieces are actually one. The effect next to the steel bracelet is super impressive and there is no doubt that the quality shines through every time I check the time, to the point that it often leaves me staring at the watch for longer than I need to.
Safe to say I am loving the visuals of this watch and my reservations over the face design are long gone. The simplicity really does work with the sword hands adding a very slight vintage look as an added bonus. My only criticism is aimed at the date window which is a touch too small to read, especially when 2 digits are displaying.
Accuracy has also been excellent and I am currently 5 seconds fast after 5 days which is exceptional for any mechanical watch. This could be luck, it could be a fluke that changes over time, but I could live with under 5 seconds off a day so I am more than happy with the performance so far.
The display window at the back is lovely and highlights the unique Oris red rotor with the very smooth screw-down crown finishing off the list of goodness in this watch.
This is probably the best watch I have owned from a technical perspective and in terms of how well it is built. It feels right, it feels like a small luxury on my wrist and it feels like it is mine. Fortunately for me, it is now mine and Oris has exceeded all of my expectations so far.