Oris 473 Brig crown Pointer Date
 

My blue heaven: a week with the new Oris Calibre 473

5 min read
Anthony Peacock

Brands

Oris

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Anthony Peacock

Brands

Oris

Categories

Reviews

For one terrible moment, I thought that the new Oris Calibre 473 had stopped.

OrisImage Credit: WatchGecko

Then I remembered. This is actually a manual wind watch. I had a similar experience recently when I switched from an automatic to a manual car but forgot to change gear. And felt equally silly.

Just as a purist would always say that a manual gearbox is the way to go on a car, exactly the same is true for a watch; in my book at least. There’s something about the sensory feeling of winding it up, feeling the movement at work beneath your fingertips, personally putting into the spring the kinetic energy that will go on to regulate your day, which makes that mysterious bond between yourself and your watch extra-special.

Because it's not just about the connection between you and what you wear on your wrist. It’s a link with the history of watchmaking as a whole: winding up timepieces by hand just as people have done since they were first invented.

My grandfather, for example, was fascinated by clocks. He had them all over his house, with a tubular cacophony of chimes breaking out at hourly intervals. He had a ritual of visiting each one to wind them up on most days – and I used to accompany him on his mission; occasionally being allowed to wind them myself: a considerable honour. My favourite was probably the immense grandfather clock at the top of the stairs, which required a considerable weight to be hoisted up on a chain within the case.

Part of the fascination was the (brief) search for the key that lurked in the case of every clock, as dark as the interior of a violin, which would then be used to wind it up. I remember quite clearly the satisfaction of locating the key, winding the clock, and then replacing the key ready for next time. I was a strange child.

But that memory has persisted to adulthood; and winding up the Oris 473 by hand actually reminds me of this every time. That moment of winding up the watch comes complete with tender reminiscences, a brief meditation on the ephemeral nature of time, and a memory of those who have passed before us. The capability of a ‘mere’ watch to do all this takes me by surprise every time – even though it shouldn’t by now.

Oris 473Image Credit: WatchGecko

But the occasions you have to wind up this particular watch are relatively few and far between, thanks to a mammoth 120-hour power reserve: the reason why I forgot to wind it in the first place.

This was entirely down to brain fade, as perhaps the most attractive feature of the watch – which I’ve not seen anywhere else – is the obvious power reserve indicator in the case back.

It’s another impressive party trick from this brand new Oris movement: the Calibre 473, which you can see beating away when you turn the watch on its back.

The rest of the watch is very similar to the Oris Big Crown that we have come to know and love, but with a few key differences. The bezel is smooth, for example, which actually makes it wear a bit bigger than its relatively contained 38mm dimensions. You also get the pointer date – a familiar feature from Oris, albeit not an especially legible one for weaker eyes – and a small seconds subdial, which I love. The sword hands are new for this model as well, not to mention a flatter crystal, blending in perfectly to the overall design language.

But while outwardly similar, it feels somewhat different to the rest of the range, and the step up in perceived (as well as real) value is noticeable. Is it worth it? If you consider that Oris took four years to develop this movement, it’s only fair that they have the chance to recoup their investment now. In the UK it costs £3700; a not inconsiderable increase of just over £1700 compared to the ‘standard’ Big Crown Pointer Date, which uses the previous

403 movement introduced in 2020 (based on a Sellita). As for the last time that Oris introduced a hand-wound movement, you have to go back to 2014 and the 110.

OrisImage Credit: WatchGecko

Is it a Field or Pilot watch? 

I’ve got to confess though that I’m not really a movement geek. Instead, the movement makes more sense to me as part of an overall aesthetic. The Big Crown feels very World War II field watch to my eyes – the size of the crown is designed for people to operate it with gloved hands – and that blue dial is one of the most stunning I have seen for a while. It’s a great colour that really stands out and blends into the overall retro vibe while reflecting contemporary trends.

That, to me, is why the hand-wound movement works so well here: as a classic piece of revival funk. I’m not sure if that’s a proper artistic term or not, but it is now.

This is a watch that feels good to wear and looks distinctive without being too showy on the wrist. The fact that its most ostentatious highlight is probably on the back (courtesy of that power reserve indicator) tells you all you need to know about its fundamental discretion. Originally, the Big Crown started off as a pilot’s watch in the late 1930s, so it’s very faithful to its time – and that’s another reason why the manual wind movement works so well here.

It’s worth mentioning the ‘Cervo Volante’ strap too, which is made of ecologically-sourced deer hide and reflects Oris’s sustainability ethos. Every year, there’s a deer cull close to Oris HQ in Holstein and the hides are used to make the distinctive pale brown straps that this new watch comes on, ensuring that nothing is wasted. There’s a butterfly clasp to secure it, which I’m not personally a huge fan of, but it works pretty well here.

Oris 473Image Credit: WatchGecko

In conclusion..

My week with the Oris Calibre 473 flew past; a fitting tribute to its sky-blue aviation heritage. Oris has carved out a highly-successful niche when it comes to creating eye-catching quality watches that absolutely anyone can aspire to. While this is somewhat more expensive than what we’ve been used to recently, it’s a perfect marriage of form and function. The Big Pilot Pointer Date with this new manual 473 movement simply works. Holstein has another big hit on its hands.

OrisImage Credit: WatchGecko


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Anthony Peacock

About the Author: Anthony Peacock

I’m passionate about a lot of things but especially cars, food, wine, film – and watches. As a writer and PR consultant, I’m lucky enough to travel the world and find inspiration from all sorts of amazing places. Sometimes I’m on my own and sometimes with others, but my timepiece is my constant companion.

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