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Oris and Aviation: More Than 75 Years of The Big Crown Pilot Watch

Oris and Aviation: More Than 75 Years of The Big Crown Pilot Watch

Authored By Carolyn DePaula


It was the year 1938. Aviation was booming around the world--Spain alone commanded a fleet of 500 aircraft--and pocket watches were not practical for pilots. Prior to the Aviation Age in the twentieth century, wristwatches were seen as feminine and only used by women. Men vastly preferred pocket watches. 

It is not until more pilots needed watches in their cabins that the practicality of wristwatches became evident. Wristwatches were styled in a masculine way to move away from the feminine stereotype of wristwatches. 

The Big Crown

Wristwatches became the norm for pilots, but the watch company Oris went a step further and developed its first Big Crown watch for pilots in 1938. The big crowns suited a pilot's gloved hands much better. The Big Crown also featured a Pointer Calendar function. 

The Second World War was the golden age of aviator watches, a time when cockpit computers and other more sophisticated in-panel instruments hadn't been invented yet, and the pilot had to depend more on his watch.

A reputation

By the end of the Second World War, the Oris aviation watches developed a reputation as one of the best. The Oris Flight Timer 1945 was one of the favorites of The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators. 

The Oris and aviation legacy continues with the BC3 (1999) and BC4 (2008). The BC4 won the Red Dot Design in 2009.

The Big Crown ProPilot

Oris recently launched its Big Crown ProPilot Date, which features a clean, retro case with a gray back and white numbers. The date of the month is unobtrusive, which adds to the already clean, understated elegance of this well-made timepiece. This is a watch which is equally at home in a cockpit as in a boardroom.

The aviator elements are evident: the 41.00 mm, 1.614 in.-case, the large crown, brushed surfaces on the dial, and a bezel subtly reminiscent of a jet-engine turbine.

The movement is the trademark bi-directionally rotating red rotor, Oris Cal. 751.

DePaula Jewelers is pleased to offer the Oris ProPilot Date with stainless steel band in-store and online at



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