Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition
Angus Davies freely admits he has a ‘soft spot’ for Oris watches, appreciating several models within the brand’s catalogue. A recent ‘hands-on’ experience with the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition – Ref. 733 7720 3185 reinforces his positive image of the Swiss watch company and adds another name to the list of timepieces he admires.
This detailed review of the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition includes live images, specification details and pricing.
A few years ago, Officine Panerai unveiled the ‘Bronzo’, a visually striking watch presented in a bronze case. The distinctive appearance of the timepiece led to legions of watch lovers swearing undying love and its name now graces many wish lists, with high pre-owned values reflecting this fact.
Following Panerai’s success with its Bronzo, other watch brands released bronze timepieces, including U-Boat and IWC. At Baselworld 2016, both Tudor and Oris joined the fray with their first bronze cased models. Recently, I had the opportunity to wear the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition for a few days and evaluate its unusual mien at close quarters.
Oris’s inaugural bronze watch commemorates the life of Carl Brashear, the U.S. Navy’s first African American master diver. Brashear was evidently a remarkable individual. During his career, he suffered a catastrophic accident whilst on a diving mission, leading to the loss of the lower part of his left leg. Despite this setback and following arduous rehabilitation, Brashear returned to his duties, making him the U.S. Navy’s first amputee diver in 1968. Brashear then became a Master Diver two years later, in 1970.
When Brashear graduated as a Naval Diver in 1954 his underwater workwear included a substantial bronze diving helmet, hence the connection with the case material of this Oris.
Over the last few years, blue watch dials have become increasingly popular. Indeed, I am a huge fan of blue dials. However, the blue shade employed on this Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition is unlike any other I have seen. The tone is incredibly dark, reminiscent of the deepest ocean viewed at dusk. A casual glance may fool the wearer into thinking this is a black dial, however, it is most definitely blue with a gloriously beguiling appearance. Quite simply, I adore the dial colour of this watch.
The hour markers mainly consist of circular indices, save for a few exceptions. At 3 and 9 o’clock torpedo-shaped batons feature. At noon, a triangular index resides, whilst at 6 o’clock a small dot-like marker defers to the date display in terms of importance. Each index, with the exception of 6 o’clock, is outlined with rose gold plating. Every hour marker is lined with Super-LumiNova®, bestowing a green emission in restricted light.
The gold-plated hour, minute and central seconds hands gleam, appearing formal and pristine and conferring an interesting juxtaposition to the slightly distressed appearance of the bronze case. Each hand features luminescent material, matching the shade of the hour markers.
Beige-yellow strokes grace the chapter ring. Oris describe the dial as ‘curved’. The central area appears flat, whilst near the edge of the dial it seems to suddenly fall away. The ‘bubble-curved’ sapphire crystal intensifies the curved appearance of the dial still further. By adopting both of these curved characteristics, the dial can appear distorted when viewed from the side, however, this does not diminish the appeal of the watch and when viewed directly from the front, it is perfectly simple to read.
Unlike some watches which reference diving, the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition is comparatively modest in scale, measuring an agreeable 42mm in diameter. Indeed, the scale of this watch, in my opinion, is an attribute, suiting a broad cross section of the watch buying public.
Whilst this watch makes reference to diving with its unidirectional bezel and the depiction of Brashear’s helmet on the case back, the maximum water resistance of 100 metres would preclude it from being used as a professional diver’s watch. However, I would liken divers’ watches to 4×4 vehicles, most owners seldom venture off urban roads and, likewise, few purchasers of divers’ watches will ever test the maximum water resistance of their timepiece. The fact is, most would-be buyers of divers’ watches, similar to purchasers of 4×4 vehicles, are motivated by aesthetics and, in my opinion, I see little wrong in this.
By sidestepping the technical requirements necessary to achieve 1000 metres water resistance or more, the height of this watch is much less than many hard core divers’ watches. The perception of slenderness is heightened by the shallow case band, which nestles between the bezel and the dome-like case back. In reality, once the height of each component is aggregated, the Carl Brashear Limited Edition is thicker than it first appears. One secret to this perception of slenderness is the way the domed case back nuzzles the wrist, sitting neatly upon the arm without unduly protruding and delivering superb levels of comfort.
Bronze cases vary in terms of shade with some appearing almost golden. The Oris exhibits a coppery hue which I find particularly charming. With time though, the case material will react with carbon dioxide, water and even the perspiration of the wearer, resulting in a patination. My press-loan was factory-fresh, free of patination, so it is difficult to envisage exactly how the Carl Brashear Limited Edition will look in the future. Moreover, the degree of patination will be individual to the wearer and their lifestyle, hence no two watches will ever look the same, a characteristic many would-be buyers will adore.
On the case back of the watch, an inscription proclaims ‘It’s not a sin to get knocked down, it’s a sin to stay down’, a sentiment expressed by Brashear during his life and sound advice relevant to everyone. The stainless steel case back is also engraved with the unique limited edition number from the series of 2000 pieces being produced.
The Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition contains the Oris 733 automatic movement, based on the Sellita SW 200-1. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz). The movement contains 26 jewels and has a power reserve of 38 hours.
Owing to the solid case back, it is not possible to view the naked movement, appraise its finishing and comment further on the Oris 733.
I have always been an admirer of Oris watches. The long established watch company from Hölstein, Switzerland has produced some very interesting models in recent years and, to be honest, I have developed a soft spot for its timepieces.
Last year, one of my favourite watches was the Big Crown Propilot Altimeter and after evaluating the watch over a number of weeks, I was very sad to return the watch. Now, having had a taste of wearing the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition over the last few days, I confess, once again, I am totally smitten and parting company will prove difficult.
The unusual blue curved dial, the rose gold-plated hands and hour markers and curved sapphire crystal bestow a stylish appearance.
The watch resides neatly on the wrist and, unlike some cumbersome divers’ watches, the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition, owing to its modest dimensions, doesn’t inhibit free movement of the arm.
After wearing this bronze watch for a few days, I have grown to appreciate the matt, almost distressed, appearance of this material and can understand its growing popularity. We are now living in a horological bronze age. Where the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition particularly stands out in the marketplace is that it features this interesting case material at a very competitive price, £1900.00 (RRP as at 6.6.2016).
- Model: Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition
- Reference: 733 7720 3185
- Case: Bronze; diameter 42mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid case back.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds and date.
- Movement: Oris Calibre 733; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800vph (4Hz); 26 jewels; power reserve 38 hours
- Strap: Dark brown leather strap presented on a bronze pin buckle
- Price: £1,900 (RRP as at 6.6.2016)
- Limited Edition: 2000 pieces
- All images bearing the ESCAPEMENT logo by © Euan Davies 2016