Because of my day job, I’m what many people would consider a frequent traveler. Its brought me to a lot of interesting (and not-so-interesting) locations, often in different time zones. How this relates to watches is that I’ve spent the majority of my time in the watch collecting hobby searching for the perfect travel watch.
There are many watches out there that can track two time zones. Unfortunately finding a “true” GMT (meaning that the 12 hour hand can be adjusted in one hour increments) is much more difficult. I want something that allows me to quickly adjust to local time (including the date) without having to completely reset the watch.
Another pre-requisite is that I need is versatility. On some trips, I’m attending meetings or dinners dressed in business casual. Others are taking me to remote locations where a delicate watch might not fare well.
There are cities in which I might not want to wear something that is too obviously expensive, but I still like to have something special on my wrist when I’m away from home (plus I like to have on something interesting when visiting every boutique I come across).
On paper, the Oris Big Crown Propilot Worldtimer checked all of my boxes. It can be dressed up on a leather strap, but still has durable construction and 100m of water-resistance. It has great styling, and is from a respected brand (but not one with a logo on the dial screaming to be stolen). Most importantly, it has a convenient (and unique) method of tracking and adjusting a second time zone.
Due to COVID-19, I haven’t left my home time zone in the last 8 months, but I was still excited when I convinced our friends at Oris to loan me one for a review. Keep reading to find out how it is in the metal!
Oris sent me the grey version which has a sunburst pattern applied to the main dial surface as well as the sub-dials. A matte black dial with yellow accents is also available. The grey version is slightly dressier between the dial, and the polished center section on the bezel vs. brushed on the black version.
Some large watches tend to shrink once they are strapped on, but the Worldtimer is not one of those watches. I never felt it was too big for my 7″ wrist, but it’s something to be aware if you have smaller wrists, or prefer understated watches.
The 44.7mm stainless steel case has a traditional pilot watch shape with curved down lugs and flat top and side surfaces. Other than the bezel and a small chamfer on the underside, it has a completely brushed surface with sharp edges.
The lug to lug distance is 53mm, with a thickness just over 13mm by my measurements. Considering (or despite) the size, it is quite comfortable, especially on a strap. It never felt top heavy, and the curved lugs and relatively flat case-back keep it snug against the wrist.
The case-back is also stainless steel, and is screwed down with a mineral crystal aperture. I would have expected sapphire to be used on a watch of this caliber (and to match the front crystal). At least it’s not a bad place to reduce cost, as it’s extremely unlikely to get scratched. A solid case-back would also have been fine with me, as the movement is mostly unfinished and is fairly small compared to the size of the watch. It is fun to see the Oris signature red rotor though.
The first thing that you’ll notice about the bezel is that has a very unique machining pattern applied, resembling a helical cut differential ring gear. It’s a great touch applied to all of the current Oris Big Crown Propilot line, but on the Worldtimer it’s only the second most interesting thing about the bezel.
Remember the convenient adjustment of local hours that I mentioned? Oris has developed a module that is the most convenient method that I’ve come across. Simply turn the bezel clockwise our counterclockwise, and the 12 hour hand moves accordingly (bringing the date with forwards and back when crossing over midnight). No crowns to unscrew or pull. No buttons protruding from the case. The adjustment mechanism is transparent until it’s needed, at which time it’s ready to go.
I expected that the bezel adjustment would be a continuous turn, but it is actually spring-loaded to return to its original position after each hour jump. The bezel was not as easy to grip as I had expected it to be with the machined edge.
The time is usually still quite easy to adjust, with a satisfying click sound to accompany the jump to the next hour. I say “usually” because when I first received it, there were a few occasions that the mechanism seemed to bind up a little. It required a fair bit of finger strength, or multiple attempts to get the hour hand to jump. I wondered if this was a quirk of a well-used press watch, but Oris told me that this is normal. It’s not a deal-breaker, and it stopped happening towards the end of my roughly three weeks with the watch.
Keeping with the pilot watch theme, the Worldtimer has a fairly large 8mm diameter crown. I prefer this more modern cylindrical shape over the traditional pilot onion crown.
The crown has a machined finish, and features an Oris logo on the surface. It screws down, and has coin edge style ridges. The shape and lack of crown guards make it very easy to grip.
If you remember the push button Oris Worldtimer watches from the past, then the dial on the Propilot will look familiar. It features a small sub-dial with running seconds at nine, and a larger sub-dial with hour and minute hands on the right indicating home time. A day/night indicator for home time is also hidden in this sub-dial.
The 12 hour format for home time is more intuitive to read at a glance than your typical 24 hour GMT watch. The down-side is that the main hands can block it, but it was rare that I couldn’t read the second time zone easily. Since I had nowhere to travel, I set the sub-dial to Japan time to make sure that I used the watch as intended (I often communicate with colleagues over there). I found the black and white day/night indicator to be useful.
As mentioned, Oris loaned me the grey dial version of the Worldtimer. Typically I prefer a matte black dial on a pilot watch (which Oris also makes), but since this is less of a tool watch than the three-hander, I enjoyed the sunburst pattern adding to the versatility and dressy factor of the watch. The color looks nearly black in some light, and takes on a warm grey tone in others.
Oris is a master of clean date integration into a dial. Between the Big Crown Pointer Date, the ProPilot Big Date, and Aquis and ProPilot models with their circular date windows, you can tell that careful thought goes into Oris’s design. The same can be said about the Worldtimer, which hides a clean white on black date window in the home time sub-dial opposite the day/night indicator. A pleasing unique font is used, and when viewed with without a macro lens, the date window sometimes takes on the grey tone of the dial, making it look like it matches.
In fact, the whole dial is very clean considering how much information it displays. No chopped off numerals here, they are actually printed to overlap into the sub-dials. Legibility is helped by the fact that the sub-dial circumferences are denoted only by a change in the sunburst pattern and slight recess rather than a painted ring around the edge. They are legible when needed, but blend into the dial when you are only trying to read the main time.
The numerals and hour markers are painted with Superluminova BG W9, giving a blue glow in the dark. It’s not the brightest lume that I’ve seen, but the blue color looks great, and still lasts through the night.
Another interesting benefit of the layout is that the sub-dial time can easily be checked without revealing the full watch from under a cuff.
The gray dial version of the Worldtimer features hands with polished centers (and surrounds on the main time hands). They are the perfect length, and the long minute hand on the very large dial leads to great legibility of the main time. The small all-white hands on the sub-dial also make the home time very easy to read.
The same blue lume is applied to the main time hands as well as the home time hands. Interestingly, the small seconds hand is not lumed, but it’s not as important on a non-dive watch.
As expected in this price range, the crystal is made of sapphire. It is domed on both sides, and is distortion-free at any viewing angle. It features anti-reflective coating inside which is my preference (external AR can get scratched, and tends to pick up fingerprints and smudges more often).
This reference of the Worldtimer comes with a dark brown genuine alligator padded strap. This strap is the dressiest combination available (a few other leather colors, or a stainless steel bracelet are also available), and was soft, supple, and quite comfortable.
My favorite part of the strap was actually the very cool stainless steel folding clasp. A lift buckle, similar to an airplane seatbelt not only kept with the pilot theme, but also was quite nice to wear. The clasp is very thin compared to other deployant clasps, despite the fact that it traps the end of the strap (eliminating the loose end, and any need for keepers). It opens and closes with a satisfying click.
Interestingly, the leather gets very thin at the clasp, and actually folds back on itself. this eliminates any holes, and allows for infinite sizing.
A 22mm lug width also means that the leather could be swapped out for many of your favorite straps. To save wear and tear on the standard strap, I swapped on a gray sailcloth strap for some of the review period. The black dial version of the watch is available with a few colors of textile strap, so I thought this gave a similar look.
The Worldtimer runs on Oris Cal. 690. Oris is transparent on their website (refreshing these days!), and shares that it starts as a base ETA calibre. Surprisingly, the 690 starts out as an 2836, which is the day/date version of the 2824 (the 2893 GMT movement was my expectation). Oris-developed modifications are then applied, giving it the unique functionality that makes it the Worldtimer.
As mentioned, compared to previous push-button models, Oris has integrated the jump hours function into the bezel on the ProPilot. It retains the functionality to jump the date forward and back as the main time crosses midnight. Unlike many “traveler” GMT watches, the date can also be quickset with the crown. There is a unique double jump, requiring two clicks to advance to the next date. I assume that this is a quirk of adding such a unique function to a base movement. It’s fine with me, as long as it keeps a quickset date!
As with the base ETA, power reserve remains at 38 hours, and the beat rate remains at 28,800 vph, or 4 Hz.
The biggest disappointment of the Worldtimer was that it made me miss travelling. There is something therapeutic about clicking your watch over to the destination time zone, and then settling in to a long flight.
I frequently found myself clicking through time zones just to play with the mechanism. Oris has developed a fantastic method of changing time zones, and then packaged it in a great exterior.
Oris watches are not what most would call inexpensive, but they are known for providing great value compared to their bigger competitors. Their involvement in the watch community, and the fact that they don’t even offer quartz models shows their enthusiasm. For its $3850 MSRP, the Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer offers a unique complication with functionality that normally costs much more.
If you are traveler who likes a watch this large, the Worldtimer is a great option!
What do you think of the Oris Worldtimer? What is your favorite travel watch? Please let us know in the comments!