Hot off the Press: Oris Cal. 400 Aquis

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I will admit, I was excited to see what Oris North American CEO VJ Geronimo was hinting at on episode 23 of the Whiskey&Watches podcast. He had mentioned that if you are a fan of the ProPilot X, and the technology that comes with that piece, you would be excited to see what comes out later this year. While I am slightly disappointed that I am not writing about a 42mm Steel PPX with GMT bezel complication (listeners of the podcast will know what I am talking about), the Aquis Caliber 400 is a very compelling package in its own right and takes aim at two of the giants in the sub-$5000 luxury dive watch space. This is a HUGE step for Oris, one that will definitely please the enthusiasts. Let’s take a closer look at what makes this Aquis different from the standard fare.

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First and foremost, the new in-house caliber 400 is the main feature of this new Aquis. As we reviewed here, the technological advancements in this movement are a major achievement in their own right while also being practical. The increased power reserve will speak to enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike while the a-magnetic properties alleviate concerns of inadvertently magnetizing your watch throughout your normal day given the increasing number of magnetic fields we are surrounded by in our daily lives. The 10 year warranty and service interval sets the new high mark in the industry and really speaks to Oris’ value proposition of offering quality watches that pack a high value for their price point.

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The Aquis is the watch in Oris’ current catalogue that makes the most sense to be the first to sport the new engine they have created. Their most robust daily diver, the Aquis has long featured a ceramic bezel, beautiful dial variants, and robust bracelet and strap options. It is a modern dive watch which now has Oris’ most modern movement beating away inside (and visible through a sapphire case back). This Aquis has a stunning blue gradient dial, fading to almost black around the hour markers. The dial really shines in natural light, with a deep blue-green hue reminiscent of open water.

On the wrist, the Aquis wears smaller than its diameter would suggest. Measuring 43.5mm across, this seems like a large watch, but the short lug-to-lug profile means it wears much like a 41mm watch (see my hands on photos at the gallery below WITH size comparisons). The watch wears very comfortably on the wrist and the bracelet tapers from the lug down to the clasp, which is secure and offers a diver’s extension and micro-adjust. Adding to the package, a newly developed quick release strap changing system allows the wearer to easily switch from bracelet to a rubber strap. This system is very easy to use, requiring only a finger nail to remove the bracelet from each attachment point, and an excellent addition for those who like to vary the look of their watches, as many of us do. 

When initially reading the press material, I could only think one thing: the additions to the Aquis put two watches I own on notice, the Omega Seamaster Professional and the Tudor Heritage Black Bay. All of these watches share similar features, which, depending on the watch include 300m of water resistance, and in house movement with anti-magnetic properties and a sizeable power reserve, ceramic bezel, and steel bracelet with dive extension. Only the Aquis has ALL of these features, boasts the longest power reserve, and has the longest recommended service interval. It is able to achieve all of this, while still being the least expensive of the bunch at $3,500 (on the bracelet). Some might say that this new movement in an Aquis is an attempt to move up market. Let us not forget this is exactly what Tudor did several years ago with its own in-house movement in the Black Bay line. More recently, Omega put a Master Chronometer co-axial movement in the Seamaster Professional and made improvements to the clasp. Both of these moves resulted in a price increase. Neither were met with anything but applause from the enthusiast community.

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If one is considering a dive watch in the entry-level luxury price point, they would undoubtedly stumble across the usual suspects as I did several years ago. I ask myself, would I have made the same decision if this Aquis had been available? The changes to the Aquis line elevate an already excellent execution of a modern dive watch. The feature set has the potential to outpace the competition, offering an arguably more compelling package for the money than both Omega and Tudor. The Aquis Caliber 400 is the total package.

By: Michael

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Whiskey and Watches Episode #40: Horological Horrors

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Whiskey and Watches Episode #38: Zach Returns to Talk Nereus Watches