Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph
The Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition is encased in bronze and celebrates the life of the U.S Navy’s first amputee diver. Angus Davies looks closely at this eye-catching timepiece and describes its impressive array of attributes.
This detailed review of the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition includes live images, specification details and pricing.
Some individuals stand out as exceptional. One such individual was Carl Brashear. His story is one of triumph over adversity. Brashear was a member of the U.S. Navy and completed its diving programme in 1954. Later, while on a mission to salvage a hydrogen bomb, he lost the lower part of his left leg.
Brashear embarked on an arduous period of rehabilitation, his determination to return to his beloved career never wavered. In 1968, Brashear became the ‘U.S. Navy’s first amputee diver. Subsequently, he qualified as a Master Diver in 1970, the first African American to do so.’ Sadly, Brashear passed away in 2006, aged 75.
As part of its philanthropic activities, Oris supports the Carl Brashear Foundation. In 2016, the Swiss brand chose to recognise Brashear’s achievements by releasing a watch, the Carl Brashear Limited Edition. The bronze case of the watch was a reference to Brashear’s heavy diving equipment.
The Carl Brashear Limited Edition was limited to only 2000 pieces. It featured a sumptuous blue dial and bronze case. Its functions were restricted to hours, minutes, seconds and the date. The dial succinctly displayed the essentials of time. However, beyond the lucidity of the dial, the watch exuded a notable degree of style and proffered incredible value for money. It was therefore not surprising that the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition sold like the proverbial hot cakes.
Two thousand watch buyers were unable to resist the allure of the bronze case and its glorious autumnal tones. Surprisingly, up to that point, the Carl Brashear Limited Edition was the only Oris watch ever offered in a bronze case.
At Baselworld 2018, Oris unveiled the new Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition. Once again, this new timepiece is housed in a bronze case with a deep blue dial. The Swiss company has also replicated several of the design elements found on the inaugural Carl Brashear model, hoping to repeat its earlier success.
Gold-plated hour and minute hands articulate time with notable clarity against the blue dial. Lined with Super-LumiNova, the hands are visible in restricted light conditions. The golden hands and bronze case enjoy an amicable relationship.
The rose gold-plated indices are applied, circular and lined with luminescent fill. They sit adjacent a clearly marked chapter ring.
The bi-compax layout proffers a wonderful sense of symmetry and balance. A 30-minute chronograph register is positioned at 3 o’clock, while opposite, at 9 o’clock, a further subdial displays the running seconds.
Oris has endowed the Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition with a magnificent curved dial. Its arcing profile, together with the bubble-curved sapphire crystal masterfully play with depths, heightening the allure of this timepiece. In fact, while this watch is intended to be a practical ownership proposition it does not eschew style.
The Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition measures 43mm in diameter, only 1mm greater than its time-only predecessor. It is the modest scale of this watch, together with its ergonomic interface with the wrist, which grants an agreeable fit.
Bronze has become an increasingly popular case material in recent years. Part of its appeal relates to its warm, rich tones and its propensity to develop a degree of patination. Post-purchase, it is the actions of the wearer, together with their own perspiration, which determine the future appearance of the watch. In reality, no two watches will ever look the same once worn, conferring an appealing degree of individuality.
The bronze bezel is uni-directional, typical of a diver’s watch. The markings, a combination of Arabic numerals and batons, are highly polished and contrast superbly with the surrounding matte surfaces.
Gracing the dorsal plane of the watch is a screwed stainless steel case back. It is embossed with a diver’s helmet and ‘Carl Brashear’s mantra: It’s not a sin to get knocked down, it’s a sin to stay down’. The blend of matte and gleaming surfaces bestows much aesthetic appeal.
While the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition clearly resembles a diver’s watch and it includes references to diving on its case back, its water resistance of 10 bar (100 metres) precludes it from professional diving use. Nevertheless, most would-be buyers of this watch are unlikely to get their hair wet whilst wearing this bronze beauty. Indeed, most divers’ watches are resigned to a life on terra firma.
Two benefits of wearing a diver’s watch on dry land are, firstly, that they invariably offer incredible legibility and, secondly, they exhibit an impressive degree of robustness. Both of these qualities can be found with this Oris.
The Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition is presented on a vintage brown leather strap, paired with a bronze pin buckle. An additional stainless steel pin buckle is also supplied with the watch.
The Oris Calibre 771 has been used for the first time and is based on the Sellita SW 510. The self-winding movement incorporates 27 jewels and features a stop-seconds function. The frequency of the balance is 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the power reserve is sufficient to deliver 48 hours of autonomy.
Owing to the solid case-back, it was not possible to assess the Oris Calibre 771 and determine the standard of movement finishing. The brand states the rotor is red, a historical feature of all automatic Oris watches.
The Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition is endowed with a multitude of attributes. The combination of the blue dial and bronze case confers a stunning mien. Moreover, the dial’s prowess is not restricted to good looks alone, it is also an exemplar of clarity, a prerequisite of any decent diver’s watch.
Bronze is an unusual case material. It does age with time. Those would-be buyers who are seeking to retain the factory-fresh appearance of their watch should look away. This watch will discolour with the onset of years. Personally, I find the idea of patination quite appealing and to this end I am attracted to the case of the Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition.
I adore chronographs as they are not only useful, but offer an intriguing tactile experience. I also possess a penchant for divers’ watches, appreciating the readability they offer and their practical robustness. This Oris timepiece sates all of my horological predilections.
Oris is synonymous with offering excellent value for money. This latest watch proves to be no exception. Despite featuring a bronze case and a chronograph movement, the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition is offered at the keen price of £3600.00.
- Model: Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition
- Case: Bronze; diameter 43mm; sapphire crystal to front and solid case-back; water resistant to 10 atm (100 metres)
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; chronograph
- Movement: Oris Calibre 771; Self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 27 jewels; power reserve 48 hours
- Strap: Brown leather strap with bronze pin buckle (also supplied with stainless steel pin buckle).
- Price: £3600.00 (RRP as at 15.4.2018)