- 38mm x 12.5mm
- Stainless Steel
- 50m water resistance
- Caliber 473 manually-wound, time and pointer-date, 5-day power reserve
- Date of release: – 2023
- Price upon release – $4400 USA
- Serial Production
This watch is exactly like the Oris Pointer Date Caliber 403 of 2021, with two differences: the dial color and the movement. Let’s focus on those two elements, as they distinguish this model from its brethren in the 38mm sport-dress platform from Oris, which is growing nicely as Oris gradually rolls out new models.
Robin’s Egg or Tiffany Blue?
I didn’t think of Tiffany blue when I first saw this watch. I got this idea when I glossed over a hands-on review of the watch that told me it was Tiffany blue. But why, among the myriad watches following the Patek Philippe 5711 swan-song with Tiffany blue dial—the same watch worn all over every sporting event and concert by the Brat Pack of Generation X, the watch from which no enthusiast could seem to escape for like six months after its release—didn’t I see the Oris Caliber 473 as Tiffany blue?
Because it’s not Tiffany blue.
You don’t have to be Audrey Hepburn to see it, and even I—a motorcycle-riding dude who couldn’t give less of a shit about Tiffany—knew it wasn’t Tiffany blue without even looking. I wish my colleagues didn’t so glibly attach to trends like that, as doing so appears to cause them to miss what would have been obvious if they’d bothered to look.
In fact, the blue on this Oris 473 is vastly different from Tiffany blue. And it’s a lot nicer than Tiffany blue. It’s not branded out the wazoo, for one thing, and it’s much less saturated and much less yellow than Tiffany blue. That saturation and greenish hue of Tiffany blue is loud and obnoxious like Kodak Yellow or Cartier Red. Tiffany blue is a brand color, loaded with predictable glitz I’d rather not be flashing like some Brat. The Oris blue here is not a brand color, but just a lovely shade of light blue that goes surprisingly well with all kinds of outfits. It’s mellow, understated, and unique.
If you’re browsing hands-on reviews and considering this watch, I hope you’ll side with me in declaring this Oris 473 as decidedly not following a trend, but Going It’s Own Way, as the Oris creed dictates.
Tiffany blue…really? Anyways…
We’ve done a bunch of work around the release of Caliber 400 from Oris, including a whole podcast episode about it with CEO VJ Geronimo. This is Oris’ bid in the down-market in-house movement category, which puts them into competition most distinctly with Tudor, who acquired Kenissi and began to make “in-house” movements for Breitling and others as well.
I’ve broken the in-house/third-party dichotomy into five levels, and Kenissi is a non-proprietary movement from a sister company, where as Oris is a proprietary movement made in exclusive collaboration with a team of movement designers and technicians, as a brand representative told me last year. So, if you care to use my hierarchy of in-house-ness, this Oris and other Cal 4XX models sit atop all Tudors.
But I’ve concluded that none of that in-house chatter really matters, and you can hear about why in a recent podcast here. What I end up saying, in short, is that a movement being in-house or not isn’t important. What’s important is whether it is of high quality, and specifically whether it possesses qualities that you care about given the watch it’s in.
For me, a watch like this—which has 50m of water resistance with a screw-down crown, a sapphire crystal, a rugged elegance making it a great every-day watch—I want a movement that is durable, has a great power reserve, and a kick-ass warranty. On those three counts: check check check. The movement suits the watch. Beat it up, and know it’s guaranteed for a full decade. Bravo.
What I also want from a movement I’m going to see through a sapphire case back is for it to be beautiful. Now, I collect vintage Vacheron Constantin, so my idea of beauty in a movement is kind of nuts—these are hand-polished wonders with elaborate engraving and Geneva Seals and so on with what are really the best movements from the 20th century’s best decades. I’m spoiled, snobby, and uninterested in most modern movements that aren’t complicated Mosers and up. You might expect that I don’t find the Oris Caliber 473 up to my standards.
But—but—this is a brand new $4400 watch. That’s what it’d cost to service many of the movements I’m into—no exaggeration. So we have to ask not whether the Caliber 473 is any good on some absolute bonkers standard of horological beauty, but whether Oris is offering a great looking movement for the money. And on that count I say yes, yes they are offering a great looking movement for the money.
The bridges are kind of huge. These are sometimes known as ¾ bridges, though that term almost never makes sense to me, and is likely misused a lot. I’ll try not to misuse it. What we really have here is two large bridges: one holds the power reserve gauge, and beneath it is the bridge that holds the dual barrels which provide the 120-hour power reserve. It’s harder to see what goes where in the manually wound 473, so the image with it next to the more exposed Caliber 400 (see above) should make it easier to see what goes where.
What’s most elegant in the Caliber 473 is the channel which runs between these two main bridges. You’ll notice that the channel wraps itself around the ruby-loaded mounts for the two barrels, hinting at the “bear’s ears” which Oris likes to point out in the Caliber 400 as looking like their playful mascot, plainly known as The Oris Bear.
I find it interesting that the power reserve gauge—which, by the way, is useful for a hand-wound movement, but placed around back where power reserve gauges belong—transverses that channel, pointing to its full and empty status on the center bridge. There’s a symmetry with the way the exposed rubies are laid out around the power reserve gauge, as well, and the whole thing looks really thoughtfully laid out to my eye. I like looking at it.
Below the two big bridges is the large pit into which the balance cock dangles the escapement, which is where the action happens. The unobscured view of that section makes it worth having a look around back.
With a loupe magnifier, I am genuinely impressed with the level of finishing of the Caliber 473. The beveled edges are much better than I’d expect from a watch costing $4400, and this is a testament that smart design, a lack of greedy MSRP mark-ups, and thoughtful use of modern computerized bridge-making machinery adds up to what 21st century horology can become more broadly. In this regard, Oris is trail blazing. A company like Oris can “democratize” horology, as the kids like to say about the more affordable luxury items they feel guilty about owning as The Apocalypse engulfs our species. I don’t mean to be glib, but that’s kind of what goes on when you don’t send your $4400 to Greta Thunberg instead. I’m guilty myself, and I’m in middle age and collect Vacherons, so….whatever. Apply irony as needed.
The brushing of the plates on Caliber 473 is clean and understated. It’s not some fancy finishing, and I’d rather have great brushing than so-so snail engraving or lackluster Geneva stripes. But there’s more to the brushing than keeping costs down; the brushing also suits the Oris brand. This is a company that everyone I’ve spoken to who works there continually emphasizes the idea of “what makes sense.”
What Makes Sense?
Don’t think this phrase “what makes sense” is some kind of weirdo corporate speak or just some common phrase that happens to crop up naturally. “What makes sense,” I learned at 2:00 AM while snorting snuff with Swiss CEO Rolf Studer in a loud bar with live music after a day of getting my ass kicked on the ski slopes with the guy, is that he is a student of Enlightenment philosophies. He’s Swiss, so that kind of makes sense. These philosophies emphasized Rationality as the cornerstone of democracy and freedom. These concepts were alive and well in Studer’s mind, and as I coaxed them out of him in the bar I began to see a larger philosophy at work inside the Oris company. I know a philosopher when I see one, and the guy is a real thinking man.
So as I gaze on this movement, and consider the price-point, and think about the brushing on the bridges, I see not a lesser-than engraving pattern but rather an intentional denial of the decorative arts which is itself an assertion of modesty that Thomas Jefferson himself believed befitted a functional democracy which relied on not overemphasizing class differences. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m kind of ashamed to be an American biker dude who collects superfluously decorated Vacheron movements, which were so clearly informed by the stodgy bullshit of uptight Victorians. Not so with Oris, which has consistently offered down-to-Earth mechanical Swiss watches you can actually afford.
If you think I’m reading too much into the Caliber 473, I can point you to another review that fails to distinguish between two massively different blues, but if you’re still with me perhaps you can appreciate that, indeed, mechanical watches at this point in history (but also throughout history) have been cultural objects—that is: symbols imbued not with meaning, but certainly with qualities which we can read our own meaning into. Movements included.
Tiffany blue? Not even close! In a way this dial is as far from Tiffany blue as you can get while still being pale blue, both in actuality but also symbolically. This is a watch with democratic principles built into it, and that right there is just about the rarest quality I’ve ever found in a Swiss mechanical watch. It’s downright defiant, in fact, and I’m super into it.