Let's work out why no one talks about the Chronoris...
The £1,000 - £3,000 price point is fiercely competitive. From new, modern brands stepping up their quality to vintage watches that can offer incredible value far beyond the price you pay. And how can we forget the biggest contributor to this price point, the value proposition brands? You know the type, solid movements, surprising build quality and a positive brand reputation. Just some of the key points that make a value proposition brand tick.
So it’s quite confusing then that one of these leading brands with many watches that are adored by owners has a relatively unloved, unspoken about model. And we just can’t work out why…
The Oris Chronoris Date - What it does
Originally introduced in the 1970s in an early form, the Chronoris from Oris initially was a chronograph (hence the name) and was the first for the brand. It marked the start of a motorsport connection for the brand which they are still closely connected to.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that although the name suggests it, this watch isn’t actually a chronograph. There is a mechanical chronograph version of the watch (which is naturally more expensive) but this time only model is more for those who are captivated by the model’s design. You can still time events by using the inner rotating bezel though, so there is some usability available.
An important question to ask when exploring watches is: what is the aim, purpose and intentions behind a watch. It's a question we work to answer on a daily basis through our reviews and one that helps massively to see the bigger picture. Applying this thought process to the Chronoris reveals some interesting truths.
An easy place to start with the modern-day Chronoris is the heritage. As we know, this watch has some genuine history behind it which is why the watch is honestly presented and clear for all to see. The case is 39mm wide with a lug to lug of 43mm. As with all good watches, the closed caseback disappears into the wrist meaning the 12.4mm thickness feels more like sub 10mm out in the wild. Dimensions that translate well to the wrist are always appreciated as seen here. This comfortable, compact watch positions itself in quite the sweet spot with enough of a presence to hold its own. It's crisp, refined and a complete product.
There are three main versions of the time only Chronoris available. First is a grey dial, a black dial and then this: the Movember edition for 2019. Each example brings something new to the table with the grey having a more youthful sporty appearance, the black is the understated choice and this Movember edition is one for those who really want to double down on the heritage aspect of the watch as well as supporting a fantastic charity that does some extremely important work for the wellbeing on men across the globe. For coherent watches, they pack a lot of details with considered design decisions.
A change from the expected comes in the form of two crowns on the watch. The top crown is a non-screw down one for operating the time and date. Everything is what you’d expect here, minus the 2 o'clock position which is quite uncommon in the industry. The second crown (screw-down this time) operates the inner rotating bezel. A pleasant surprise awaits though as it’s not a frictionless operation, rather an addictive reassuringly solid click.
This is where Oris as a brand really excels. Not only do their watches look the part, but when you actually use them (we’re talking about pushing pushers and rotating bezels here) they simply outperform the price tag.
The dial on the Chronoris is best explained in stages. Looking through the domed crystal we have that inner rotating bezel that remains thin and subtle to help flank the dial. Taking a further step in we find the seconds track, lumed indices, date at 3 and small square hour markers. The final piece of the puzzle is the simple matt central point of the dial. These sections are best seen on the grey version of the watch here, but their purpose remains the same.
It's all about bringing your eye into the dial further. It helps give the perception of depth. That explains it’s attractive appeal on the wrist then...
Lume appears on the ends of the gilt coloured hands as well as each indices (minus the 3 o'clock one, the date window has that spot reserved). At the heart of this watch is the Oris 733 movement which is essentially the Sellita SW200. 28,800 vph, 26 jewels and 38 hours of power reserve is to be expected. It's a textbook Oris move. Use a tried and tested movement that won't let you down.
Watch Straps for the Oris Chronoris
The Chronoris is available on leather, miltary style straps, rubbers and metal bracelets as standard. We spent time with their metal bracelet that combines a solid metal bracelet with hints at a mesh design. It suits the watch and the original era of the piece very well. The sheer amount of standard strap options is a good sign as it's a hint that this watch is going to enjoy a strap change. A friendly reminder though, it comes with 19mm lugs so be sure to stock up on some odd-sized straps.
Tillington Vintage Genuine Leather Watch Strap - Distressed Grey
What can we say about grey leather straps that we haven’t said already? If you don’t want to go down the brown or black route, grey straps are a solid halfway house between the two. And the Tillington has it all. Comfortable padding, quick release spring bars, an appealing combination of stitching types and of course that distressed finish.
Besford Premium Leather Watch Strap in Chestnut
See? We weren’t lying about how much a strap can change a watch. Here the Besford in Chestnut brings out those gilt coloured details and somehow manages to make this sporty watch look quite dressy. It also helps that this is one of my personal favourite straps for its looks and comfort. A real winner.
ZULUDIVER 141 Nylon in Black
Let's get this watch looking sporty with a good old military style. Here we’re opting to keep it purposeful and distinctive with a simple black 141 military style. This look is timeless for a reason as it makes those orange details pop and effectively match the black dial.
Who is the Chronoris for?
This is another important question to ask when looking at watches, and I feel this is where the Chronoris struggles the most. It seems this watch is aimed at people who get their kicks from vintage-styled watches. There is, of course, a connection to motorsport with this mode, but the vintage side of the Chronoris is a stronger selling point than that. Other ‘motorsports’ watches get that message across in a more succinct way ( When I was showing this watch to a colleague and I mentioned that it's a motorsport watch, they were almost taken aback).
There is no getting around the fact you need to have a more quirky appreciation for design if you’re really into things from the 70s. It was an era heavily influenced by bright colours, textures and disco style. Just look at other watches released in the 70s and you’ll get an idea.
The Chronoris has a tonneau case that is very much of the era, whereas other watches from Oris have introduced the vintage aesthetic in a way that only requires a small appreciation for vintage to be on board with them. Models such as the 65 Diver, Pointer Date and Aquis have been able to capture the charm of vintage in a way that is conventional and approachable on the wrist. Vintage watch enthusiasts have received their hit from the rest of the Oris line up already. It feels more and more that the Chronoris is a victim of its own brand success in other ranges (a similar story to the Rolex Cellini - more on that here).
That probably explains that when looking on Instagram at hashtags, #orisaquis has 17,000 posts, #oris65 has nearly 8,000 and #orisbigcrown has 6,700 posts. And #chronoris? Well, that has 1,500 and #orischronoris is on just 740 posts. Sure this isn’t the most reliable source of information but it does say something about what people are buying and posting about on Instagram.
The proportions, form factor and overall quality of this watch is everything you’d expect from a watch with Oris on the dial. But just know this watch requires the wearer to have a deep appreciation for the unconventional.
Things we would change
Ignoring the bigger picture for a moment, let’s take a look at the watch for what it is and see if we would change anything if given the chance.
Flat hands - this is a bit of a pet peeve on watches for me, but polished hands that are completely flat result in a watch with hands that spend most of the time unreadable due to either glare or lack of light. Chamfered hands simply do a better job at ensuring the time is always just a quick glance away.
Screw-down crown for all! - It’s great to see a screw-down crown for the inner bezel, however, I think the watch should really have the same for the main crown at the 2 o'clock position also. It doesn’t sound like much, but that added reassurance goes a long way. Especially when it would be protecting the heart of the watch.
Some more interesting dial options - At the moment the variations available for the Chronoris are all quite subtle and understated. The light grey option pops the most out of the three and would be my pick of the bunch. But this is a watch whose inspiration comes from the 70s. I’d love to see some greens, blues and oranges to really hammer home the background of this piece and make it stand out even more. Embrace the unusual Oris, and ensure this model is loved by more of your passionate followers.
Simply put, the Chronoris deserves more attention. The quality of the watch and the concept is there. With genuine history to back it up, it feels like all the puzzle pieces are there, they just need putting in the right place.
Maybe the biggest drawback of this watch is that it requires an article like this to get the message across. First impressions are important, and many will dismiss this watch right away because of the tonneau case shape and the look that comes from the unconventional crowns. But this funky alternative comes from a brand you can’t help but enjoy. It’s as characterful, well made and downright cool as any diver that leaves the same factory.
Let’s hope the Chronoris can share the limelight one day soon...
The Oris Chronoris Date Movember Edition is available for £1,950. The standard Chronoris starts at £1,450. We'd like to thank Oris for sending this watch in for review. To find out more, click here.