Hands-On Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400

The Skinny

  • 39mm
  • Titanium case and bracelet
  • 100m water resistance
  • Oris in-house calbire 400
  • 3900 CHF (~$4,170)

A New Category for Oris

With the ProPilot X Calibre 400, Oris has entered the crowded and competitive arena of the Swiss luxury sports watch. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas, and the Patek Philippe Nautilus helped form this sometimes contentious category in the 1970s, and those watches have dominated it ever since. Today you can’t get any of those three at retail, and the Swiss luxury sports watch is as hot as its ever been. Enter: Oris.

L-R: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Vacheron Constantin Overseas, Patek Philippe Nautilus, Oris ProPilot X Calbire 400

Many luxury sports watches are made of steel and include an integrated bracelet, meaning that there is a bracelet link built into the case. The Oris Pro Pilot X Calibre 400 is fully titanium and attaches its bracelet via end-links to traditional lugs, a configuration you’ll find on every Rolex sport watch bearing a bracelet. In terms of vibe, style, and purpose, however, the Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 could very easily sit in for a Royal Oak, an Overseas or a Nautilus, where no Rolex ever could.

Why is that?

Effectively it comes down to three things: (a) the futuristic shapes of the ProPilot X, (b) the bracelet being quite brilliantly aesthetically integrated into the design, and (c) the use of forward-thinking materials and technology.

The Beauty of Inorganic Forms

Starting with the shapes, the ProPilot X Caliber 400 brings the spirit of retro-futurism, playful brutalism, and what I call techno-romanticism. If you know the sets of Stanley Kuberick films, then you have a sense of how creative minds of the late 20th century imagined the look of the 21st century. Straight lines and repetitive shapes create inorganic forms characteristic of a man-made, industrialized environment consisting of novel materials and devoid of historical reference points. The aforementioned luxury sports watches of the 1970s asserted these qualities, and the Oris ProPilot X Calbire 400 does the same.

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The lack of curvature on the ProPilot X Calibre 400 departs from the traditionalism of the Oris Pointer Date and The Divers 65. Yes, the larger skeletonized BigCrown ProPilot X came first, but that larger watch was, until now, the only truly non-traditional watch in the Oris catalog, a kind of odd-ball off to the side. Oris is now putting this edgy, retro-futuristic X-aesthetic right up the middle of its catalog with a versatile 39mm watch you could wear every day. As such, the ProPilot X Calibre 400 represents an expansion into the luxury sports watch market for Oris. This is a categorical move for the brand.

When A Bracelet Steals The Show

You know you’re playing in the all-metal luxury sports watch category when the bracelet is as important as the watch head itself. Clever (and thus expensive) bracelets are a prominent feature of this category, and in order to bring luxury to the wrist, these bracelets have to be not just comfortable, but sensually satisfying – like jewelry. A friend once told me that a Blancpain bracelet was “like sex on the wrist,” and I’ve had genuinely positive sensual reactions to, say, the Moser Streamliner bracelet, which is a pretty good comparison point for the Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 bracelet. These brushed metal bracelets wear like metal reptiles, wrapping around the wrist with unexpected grace, going beyond comfort into luxuriousness.

For a $4000 watch, the ProPilot X’s bracelet in titanium really is an impressive offering that’s on par with some of the very best from Switzerland. I truly wasn’t expecting it to feel so good. Maybe the “Lift” buckle threw me off. This feature is a rather playful nod to a fighter jet’s seatbelt, and I wonder if Oris might set that buckle aside on later iterations in favor of something perhaps less sporty and more elegant. This watch could totally lean in that direction.

Though the ProPilot X’s bracelet is not physically integrated into the case, the perfectly matched angles of the end links and lugs produce the same level of “integration” as one gets when links are built into the case. The gentle tapering of the bracelet takes place over the first four links, and the brushed titanium feels good against the skin and looks surprisingly understated, which is refreshing for this often blingy category.

By contending that the bracelet steals the show, I don’t mean to diminish the dial, though one has to accept that this is a printed dial, lacking the applied markers that normally adorn luxury sports watches. With that said, it is a lovely dial in warm gray that compliments the titanium and – in this colorway at least – allows the exceptional titanium case and bracelet to dominate. The restraint of the dial very much suits the watch.

Advanced Materials and Technology

Being fully titanium, the ProPilot X Calibre 400 is surprisingly light. I’ve said elsewhere that titanium mechanical watches don’t feel high-tech like G-Shocks or Apple Watches, but titanium watches do feel cutting-edge. The titanium on this watch really makes it feel as retro-futuristic as it looks, and the use of novel materials aligns with that ethos.

Oris’ choice to use all brushed titanium is in keeping with other inclinations that the brand has had, such as creating all bronze watches (the first company to do so) and to more broadly “go their own way,” as the brand’s slogan insists. Not only does the titanium make a lot of sense for an all-metal watch due to its mellow color and its lightness, but also because most luxury sports watches are steel. Titanium here distinguishes Oris in this category without really breaking any hard-and-fast rules.

We’ve gone into depth with VJ Geronimo regarding the Oris Calibre 400 in-house movement, which was warmly received in the watch community upon its release in 2020. In brief: this movement runs within COSC certification specs of -3/+5 seconds/day, holds 5-days of power in dual barrels, is highly anti-magnetic, and has a recommended service interval of 10 years (which David Flett and I discuss in this episode of the podcast). Without the Calibre 400, the ProPilot X really wouldn’t be a significant player in the all-metal luxury sports watch category, but with it, Oris has put some heavy hitting competition on notice, including Girard Perregaux with its Laureato and Breitling with its Chronomat. I’d readily recommend anyone considering either of those watches to also consider the ProPilot X Calibre 400.

It’s Totally An Oris

Rolf Studer, Oris’ Swiss CEO, clarified for me the notion of inclusive luxury (a buzz term these days) when he told me that, “inclusive luxury is all about sharing your watches; it’s about having access and sharing it.” Oris has consistently embraced this philosophy and put it into action more than any other Swiss watch brand, even as they elevate their offerings.

As Oris moves slightly up-market with in-house movements, watches breaching the five-figure mark, and now a true luxury sports watch, it’s a relief to find that the brand is sticking to its core values, that Oris isn’t leaving mid-budget enthusiasts like me behind but, rather, is warmly welcoming us into these elevated experiences with the same great value we’ve always turned to Oris for. In this sense perhaps the ProPilot X Calibre 400 is nothing new for Oris, but in all other regards this watch opens up a whole new chapter.