Oris ProPilot Altimeter *REVIEW*
Oris is literarily producing one hit after another. After virtually unique Oris Depth Gauge models with integrated depth gauge (which both have, standard and DLC, been reviewed by Portal satova) and recently introduced Cal. 110 with ten days power reserve, the Swiss manufacture from Holsten has again demonstrated that to be unique and cool, you do not have to be the most expensive or the most prestigious brand in the market. We are presenting yet another 'first' - Oris ProPilot Altimeter, the world’s first automatic watch with a mechanical altimeter.
Really, who actually "needs" the altimeter in the watch? However, who "wants" it, is an entirely different story!
As the Oris Depth Gauge models are oriented towards divers, the new Oris ProPilot Altimeter is designed as a pilot's watch, as an supplementary instrument (altimeter) in small aircrafts (unfortunately not in commercial aircrafts with pressurized cabins, because unfortunately altimeters are not functioning there). You're not a pilot? Never mind, you will surely find a purpose for this non-typical complication. Especially when climbing, skiing or mountaineering where your altitude and air pressure could be of considerable importance. Yes, you read that right, Oris Altimeter also displays hectopascals, so with monitoring air pressure over a long period, you can get the weather trend.
HOW ORIS ALTIMETER WORK?
The same as with Oris Depth Gauge, behind the new Oris Altimeter is very 'smart' and simple physics. Its stainless steel case houses a measuring device, which is also known as an aneroid barometer. To spare you of complicated technicalities, it is a device that measures the current air pressure (and consequently the altitude which depends on air pressure), and shows it by the scale indicator.
The dial which is virtually divided into two parts, is a story in itself and would require a separate review. There are practically two dials which are separated by bridges, one of which shows the external air pressure on the inner red scale and the current altitude on the yellow outer scale, while the main dial displays time: hours, minutes and seconds. The dial that displays time gives the impression of floating over aneroid barometer. Unfortunately, we cannot convey that visual 3D effect by any images, so if you possibly can, it is best to see it in real life. It will be worth it!
Setting the altimeter is actually a relatively simple process. There are two crowns, the upper crown is responsible for setting the time and the lower for altimeter activation and setting. The altimeter activation starts by unlocking and pulling the crown to the first position. Is the red ring visible? Excellent. This is very important, please remember this detail for later. By pulling the crown to the first position, you are setting your current altitude or air pressure towards referential data. After you set up one of those two values, returning the crown to its original position activates monitoring the current altitude. As you will be moving on the vertical axis, you would be able to read the altitude on the outside scale to the maximum of 4500 meters.
Remember the red ring below the crown? It actually has a dual role. For the beginning, it serves as an indicator that the altimeter is activated, but also serves as a warning that you have given up water resistance in favour of altimeter function. In order for barometer inside to work properly, it needs the air entering the chamber, so this is one of the compromises that have to be kept in mind. Since moisture and watches are generally eternal enemies, Oris has developed a special PTFE membrane that prevents moisture from entering the case when the crown is open. This does not mean that you will be able to swim with a watch with the activated altimeter, but increased moisture in the air or light rain would not present a problem. Of course, if you deactivate the altimeter by screwing the crown, the case is again water resistant to 100m.
The aneroid barometer itself is one of the reasons why Oris ProPilot Altimeter is of XXL size. With 47 mm diameter and 18 mm thickness it certainly cannot be called compact, but given that case is so well designed and has a low centre of gravity, you will have the impression that it is at least two millimetres smaller in diameter. Lovers of aftermarket straps would surely be delighted, given that Oris ProPilot Altimeter has regular lugs and thus made it possible to experiment with a variety of aftermarket leather, rubber or NATO straps.
Although Oris ProPilot Altimeter could be ordered on a metal bracelet or on a rubber strap, we particularly like the combination of textile "canvas" strap with gives it a military look. The strap gives a sense of quality, but the only objection is its hardness which is a bit uncomfortable, although this is often the case with the new, unworn straps. The buckle is also one of the elements that remind us this is a pilot’s watch because the shape and design are inspired by aircraft seat belt buckles. Technically, it is one of the more complicated buckles to use, but visually, it is a great addition to pilot’s theme.
Mechanically, there is nothing new. Already known Oris calibre 733, more commonly known as Sellita SW-200-1, which is basically ETA 2824 clone with a 38 hours power reserve, and balance wheel frequency of 28,800 pbh. The same as with Oris Depth Gauge, Oris ProPilot Altimeter is a watch where reliability, low service costs and excellent precision are the most important, and for that purpose, practically no better movement exists.
Oris has done once again what they do best - designing and constructing a mechanical watch, which is not even remotely similar to anything else in watch world and for the price you do not need to get second mortgage for. In their official announcement, " Oris ProPilot Altimeter is a high precision instrument for pilots, hikers, explorers, scientists and professional skiers who are working at altitude". Ok, a very small percentage of us can boast to belong to this elite group, but to have something on the wrist that could get us at least a little closer, this is very cool! And we know that you want it!