When Oris released its first reissue of the Divers Sixty-Five, my amygdala sent out shockwaves. It was important that I be nowhere near credit cards. Since then, I have learned to live through each new iteration and colourway with therapy and strong medication. Then, in 2019, Oris did a bad thing, and released the manually wound Limited Edition for Hodinkee. I attribute my strength in that moment only to an even greater corresponding fear of my wife’s response to yet another watch purchase.
And now this. The Oris Divers Sixty-Five 12-Hour Calibre 400. Honestly, what’s a man to do?
To begin, I have enormous respect for Oris as a brand. That it remains fiercely independent in an age of watch conglomerates is both courageous and fascinating. Fascinating, because the brand isn’t just surviving. It’s thriving. Pushing the envelope and going its own way. At the same time, unlike many of the microbrands which are making waves, Oris has a long-standing heritage in Swiss watchmaking that gives the brand access to a treasure trove in its own back catalogue. The Oris Divers Sixty-Five 12-Hour Calibre 400 is the perfect example of this. It’s quintessential Oris.
On the surface, the Divers Sixty-Five 12-Hour does not appear to have struck out in any new directions. It abides by the winning formula Oris developed in the 1960s and returned to in 2015. The classic skindiver case is 40mm in diameter here—well within the model’s modern wheelhouse of 36-43mm iterations. Though I might say 40mm is certainly a sweet spot for me. The lug to lug of 48mm is restrained, without sacrificing the aesthetic. However, the spec sheet will have you doing a double take at the watch’s thickness. At officially 12.8mm, the Divers Sixty-Five 12-Hour will strike you as a bit of an optical illusion. I can attest that it wears much closer to a watch of 10 or 11mm, as well. I attribute this disparity between reality and perception to the height of that wonderful double-domed sapphire crystal and the display case back which lends some hidden depth to the case.
The Divers Sixty-Five 12-Hour is milled from 316L stainless steel and is a mix of brushed and polished surfaces. Like its brethren, the watch oozes 60s charm, although here it is more discreet. The design is straightforward. Long gone are the stylized block Arabic numerals. The dial is a subdued matte black with polar white applied plot markers edged in polished steel to match the simple pencil handset. Both features have also been treated in a tantalizing icy blue Super-LumiNova. Textual elements are restricted to the brand name, water resistance rating of 100m, and the one sly bit of bragging rights, “5 Days” indicated just above the date window at six.
Small changes in the 120-click bezel (by way of its 12-Hour insert) allow for dual time zone functionality, but ultimately, the watch is a classic Divers Sixty-Five in every way—except one. That sly bit of dial text lets us know that something is afoot here. And that something is the Calibre 400.
First released in 2020, the Calibre 400 was a statement of intent by the brand. You might argue that the Aquis which housed it was another statement. Either way, Oris was clear. It was not about to watch the game from the sidelines. The Calibre 400 is the company’s first in-house movement and it may have just set the standard for future movements.
That bit of sly text on the Divers Sixty-Five dial alludes to the calibre’s massive 120-hour power reserve, provided by its dual barrels. In addition to this technical achievement, it contains at least 30 anti-magnetic components, like a silicon escape wheel—and it runs within COSC standards. Clearly, Oris feels confident in the creation, because it is backed with a 10-year warranty.
Unlike other Divers Sixty-Five references, the 12-Hour sports a display case back for the express purpose of showcasing the calibre. While not exactly decorated, the Calibre 400 is certainly nicely finished with a symmetrical layout, wide, subtly brushed bridges and a razor-thin rotor. In a word: modern. Some may say this is at odds with the overall vintage aesthetic, but I have to disagree.
Oris are doing for watches what British-based Charge Cars did the 1967 Mustang Fastback, when the carmaker released its 499—a hand-built, period correct Mustang with an electric engine capable of 0-60 in 3.9 secs. In a time of mass (some might say disposable) production, vintage aesthetics harken back to an era we associate with quality and care. But under the hood we still wish to reap the rewards of modern technology. This is the Divers Sixty-Five 12-Hour in a nutshell.
The reference featured here comes standard on a vintage-styled leather band with a stainless steel clasp and pin. However, the Divers Sixty-Five 12-Hour is also available on a three-link rivet bracelet which suits the overall design.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
48mm Lug to Lug
Display Case Back and Screw Crown
100m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Double-Domed Sapphire Crystal|
Date @ Six
|Movement||Oris Calibre 400|
120-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Leather Strap /w Stainles Steel Hardware|
or Rivet Bracelet
Oris Divers Sixty-Five 12-Hour Calibre 400
Traditionally, the Oris ambit has revolved around the $2000 enthusiast space. And they have done well by it. With the Divers Sixty-Five 12-Hour, Oris have entered wittingly, or otherwise, into the Tudor sphere. The Black Bay 58, for example, retails for only a few hundred dollars more. One could argue that the proximity of the 12-Hour pricing to both the Black Bay Pro and Pelagos 39 is enough to cause pause, as well. And while the Seamaster is still swimming a ways upstream, it too might bring the decision to spend $3700 on the Divers Sixty-Five 12-Hour into question.
My thinking here is that Oris doesn’t care. Movements like this suggest confidence in the brand’s offerings and a willingness to go head-to-head with the largest houses. And frankly, my money’s on Oris in the long run.
If you didn’t catch on yet, I like this watch. And I actually don’t have a quibble. Well, not about the watch anyway. My quibble is with the enthusiast sphere, including reviewers and journalists, who constantly lament that the Oris Divers 65 is not a true dive watch, because it is rated to only to 100m of water resistance.
Hold my beer.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. When watchmakers such as Rolex release novelty timepieces like the Deepsea Challenge, our ideas of diving become skewed. Don’t get me wrong. The technical acumen behind 13 900m of water resistance, or even 1000m of water resistance for that matter, is no small achievement—particularly when those watches remain comfortable and wearable on dry land in everyday situations. However, we must remember that fewer than .1% of the world dives. And of those divers, approximately 96% are recreational divers, who do not dive beyond 40m (130ft). And many of those recreational divers do not actually dive beyond their Open Water Certification of 18m (60ft). So, in reality, the percentage of the world’s population, for whom the Divers 65 would be insufficient to their needs, could fit into the city of Toledo, Ohio and still invite friends over. Just sayin’.
When Oris released its new line of Pro Pilots in April of 2022, I thought it was among the highlights of Watches and Wonders. After trying one, I am confirmed in my belief. But in some ways the Pro Pilot is the antithesis of the Divers Sixty-Five 12-Hour. It is singularly modern, with nary an eye cast backward. But that speaks only to the strength and breadth of the brand. That these two watches, at opposite ends, can exist in the same stable and still be recognizably Oris, is a remarkable feat. These watches, along with the introduction of the Calibre 400, demonstrate that Oris have one foot firmly planted in its heritage, and another long leg striding into the future. Such a beast casts quite a shadow. And it makes a good watch, too.
The Oris Divers Sixty-Five 12-Hour Calibre 400 retails for $3500USD on leather and $3700USD on bracelet. For more information, please visit the brand website.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
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