My first watch of this kind brought me to a realization - that bronze is as soft as a doting mother's opinion about their fat ugly kid.
When the world (me) first heard of Oris' second release in honour of the legendary Carl Brashear, it was most certainly with an excited anticipation.
The first watch was introduced when the world was in its bronze craze as one of the most affordable and wonderfully designed watches of the bronze era. Selling out completely in stores here, the watch has now seen appreciation of up to 50% its original market price.
And now here's a second one, and a chronograph no less. With no date.
The obvious answer was YES, and I approached my agent to have a look at the watch before I could make the decision to purchase. I was in for disappointment; Singapore was allocated 20 pieces, and they all sold via pre-order before any could reach. Tough luck.
So when I saw a set in Malaysia still shining and without the characteristic signs of oxidization, I jumped.
And now after a week on my wrist, I can give an amateur's take on the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition.
Coming off the success of the previous Carl Brashear is this beauty of a chronograph. The bronze case of the limited edition chronograph is nicely polished on the sides with a satin finish on the top side of the lugs that match the matte and polished combination on the rotating bezel (also bronze) to a tee.
Matching the warm tone of the case material is a nice dark blue dial with white and fauxtina printing complementing the color scheme.
What immediately comes off well for me is the choice to omit the date window, despite its tasteful execution at 6'O for the previous Carl Brashear diver. Also a nice touch is the combination of different intensity lume for the time telling hands and the dot hour markers.
Extra creds to Oris too, for applying lume on the sweeping seconds and the 30-minute register hand in the two sub-dials. Practicality aside it's really great to be able to run a chronograph and have the ability to read it in the dark.
The watch comes in a 43mm case, extending to a significant 51mm when you measure lug-to-lug. This would have gone south if not for the clever choice of a thin bezel and copious white space on the dial to take the attention away from the long lugs. Having these same lugs slope downwards helps to contour to your wrist and give the illusion of a smaller case size too.
As I've so eloquently expressed in my opening sentence, bronze is a bitch when it comes to the strap change. The watch comes with stainless steel spring bars that will scratch the nice bronze surface with every contact.
And if you're unlucky enough to have the taut spring bars come off the lugs without your removing them cleanly, you're going to be left with a small dink where it "flicked" off. Expect scratches and damage to the lugs immediately, unless you're super careful and change straps with a loupe.
I can imagine this being solved rather easily (bronze spring bars would be nice albeit useless) by having either drilled lug holes ala Seiko or quick change spring bars. I have to given them credit for including a 20mm strap with a 21mm lug-width though - this (hopefully) obvious move makes it a little easier to change the strap. Still expect scratches though.
Bronze is also not forgiving to oily hands, each fingerprint becoming a permanent fixture in your theater of dreams as you watch every romanticized impression of owning a novel material watch crash down from orbit. If you're OCD about stains and prints, this watch is not for you.
I also did a check on the first Carl Brashear before writing this statement - shouldn't a tribute to a diving legend be at least diver watch certified? 100m water resistance seems a bit weak when you're sporting a tagline at the case back that tells you never not to give up. And being a chronograph, I'm going to safely assume that I can't bathe with it (for the patina man... I don't some weird watch fetish).
Oh, and also - 21mm lug-width. WTF Oris I just ordered 20mm straps for this guy.
Despite its shortcomings the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition is a welcome edition to the dynamic bronze duo in the marque's hall of fame. Trooping the golden brick roads paved by the phenomenal Diver 65, this handsome chronograph could very well be one of the best looking bronze watches out there.
A reasonable size on the wrist, coupled with the splendid blue-bronze combination make the Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph a prize entry for the vintage-inspired genre. Now if they could please release another one so that I can see the value of my watch rise.
Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph Limited Edition
Ref. 01 771 7744 3185-Set LS
Oris 771 (base SW 510)
28,800vph, 48hrs reserve
100m water resistance
Centre hands for hours, minutes and chronograph 1/4 seconds, 2 subsidiary dials for continuous seconds and 30 minutes counter, fine timing device and stop-second
43mm bronze case
Engraved solid caseback
The watch retails at US$4,950 (if you can find one)