New Cal 400 From Oris is a Worthy Workhorse

Oris has lauched a new in-house calibre movement recently. Why does this matter? Well it’s important because those of us who love watches are always keen to own something unique, that doesn’t share its engine with other watches. For example, you might think Tissot, Certina or a Hamilton were more interesting brands when they didn’t all share the Powermatic 80 movement. Then again, you may not care.

But an in-house calibre also ticks a box with the EU, which is important for the Swiss industry. The EU hates monopolies, except their own of course, and so companies cannot let ETA, or anyone else, dominate the supply of watch movements. There’s some background in the FT newspaper on the Swatch Group’s dispute with the EU here by the way. The edict on movement supply came down from the EU about 4 years ago and that’s partly why TAG, Oris, Breitling, Frederique Constant and others have been busy building movement factories or forging partnerships regarding parts supply, so they can essentially customise an existing ETA or Sellita template.

Now Oris have really gone above and beyond with the Cal 400 as it has five days of power reserve, two mainspring barrels and a new method of mounting the automatic rotor; rather than tiny ball bearings within a track. It’s also anti-magnetic, with a a silicon hairspring and pallet fork.

Rolex of course use a silicon hairspring and the benefit is that you need less power to move that crucial last link in the chain when it comes to transforming tension from the mainspring into actually make the watch tick. The gear train’s power reduction by the time it reaches the pallet fork is hefty, so any way that you can reduce the load required to tap the balance spring back and to, is a good thing. In essence, you extend the power reserve by reducing friction and tiny amounts of torque at the end of the cycle.

This movement also comes with a 10 year warranty, which is impressive. Watches, especially mechanical and automatic models, should have a long guarantee – I never get how some makers get away with just two years. One detail I noticed on the 400 movement is the spring clip fastener for the rotor, it just pushes on and off, no retaining screw. That is an indicator that this movement is built to a price, and designed for longevity in the same way modern car engines are, with 20K service intervals.

This looks like the workhorse of the Swiss watch world to me and will power the type of £1500-£4000 timepiece that never gets serviced in its 20 year lifespan with an owner, but is regarded as great value and relaiable when it comes to timekeeping. That’s another benefit of replacing metal parts with silicon, they don’t need regular oiling.

More here at Oris.


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