Do you love hiking or are you a pilot? We often struggle to find the right companion on our wrists when it comes to these activities. But worry not, as Oris is here to save the day! Oris introduced the world’s first watch with a combined automatic mechanical movement and mechanical altimeter in 2014. The innovative ProPilot Altimeter has returned this year at Watches And Wonders 2023, enhanced with a smaller and lighter design, a thinner altimeter, and a higher resolution display.

The Oris Altimeter Mechanical Watch, 2014
The Oris Altimeter Mechanical Watch, 2014

Since its founding in 1904, Oris has been dedicated to creating high-quality timepieces with practical applications. In that time, they have created over 280 different calibers and countless watches, many of which feature innovative, useful, and user-friendly complications.

That custom was carried on by the ProPilot Altimeter, which, like its predecessors, used a single dial to accurately display the time, air pressure, and altitude. Pilots, mountaineers, hikers, and self-proclaimed “watch nerds” alike admired its cutting-edge design and functionality. Having worked on it for three years, they have now improved upon it. The new ProPilot Altimeter’s altimeter module is an upgrade, allowing for indication of altitude up to 19,700 feet or 6,000 meters (as before, there are two configurations available).

Not only are they the only watchmaker to combine an automatic movement and a mechanical altimeter, but they also hold the distinction of being the only watchmaker to do so. Other mechanical watches can measure altitude, but they require manual winding because the movement must be directly connected to the pressure box and the dial on top. Oris took a different approach by separating the altimeter from the mechanical automatic movement by way of a second dial located beneath the main one.

They partnered with 9T Labs (see page 10), a spin-off of the prestigious ETH Zurich university (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), to create the lightweight carbon fiber case of the new watch. The case is 1mm thinner than the original and contains the automatic movement Calibre 793, which has a power reserve of 56 hours. With these enhancements, the new ProPilot Altimeter is one of the most advanced watches of its kind.

What’s new about this watch?

Oris product development engineer Richard Siegrist says, “We wanted to evolve the existing model by increasing the altitude range from 4,500 meters to 6,000 meters, while also making the case slimmer and lighter. It took three years to develop, and it was complex! The solution was an updated pressure box that can show the range within 1.5 rotations of the indicator hand. We also introduced a thinner automatic movement with a 56-hour power reserve, Oris Calibre 793, and housed it in a unique carbon-fiber composite material case with a titanium bezel and case back. The carbon composite is two-thirds lighter than titanium. The result is a watch with improved performance that’s also 1mm slimmer than the previous model and 70 grams lighter. At 47 mm, it’s still a substantial watch, but we’ve created a beautifully balanced tool that works even on a smaller wrist. Of course, there are electronic altimeters out there, but this is all about the joy of mechanics!”

What is so unique about the case material?

The carbon fiber and PEKK polymer composite are extremely durable and resistant to heat, chemicals, and mechanical stress. By combining them, you get a material that is as lightweight as plastic but as strong as metal. The result is a lightweight material with impressive stiffness and strength.

How does it function?

The ProPilot Altimeter is an advanced wristwatch that is packed with cutting-edge technology. However, it is also a useful tool that has been made for ease of use.

1. Neutral mode
(Root node zero) When the crowns are fully tightened, the ProPilot Altimeter acts just like a conventional automatic wristwatch. The watch is water-resistant up to 10 bar/100 m and has a central dial with hands that show the time and can be adjusted using the crown at 2 o’clock.

2. Activating the altimeter
(Crown position 1) Unscrew the crown at 4 o’clock and turn it to position 1 to activate the altimeter. Once the red circle has appeared, the altimeter is used.

3. Setting the altimeter
(Crown position 2) Altimeters are calibrated by pulling out the crown to position 2, then turning it until the red triangle at 6 o’clock on the central dial coincides with the reference air pressure (which can be obtained from an airport control tower, for example). Current altitude is displayed in the watch’s yellow indicator, and absolute air pressure is displayed in the red indicator. A PTFE vapor barrier within the patented Oris altimeter-adjustment and venting crown prevents moisture from the surrounding air from entering the watch while it is in use.

4. Measuring altitude
(Crown position 1) Once you’re satisfied with the altimeter’s reading, return the crown to position 1. The outer dial ring is yellow to indicate changes in altitude, and the scale can range from 0 to 19,700 feet or 0 to 6,000 meters (the watch can be ordered with either feet or meters scales). The lightweight altimeter hand is made from laminated carbon fiber. Turning the crown back to zero deactivates the altimeter. The watch is resealed and can now withstand pressures up to 10 bars (100 meters).

In terms of technology, the ProPilot Altimeter is unparalleled. Priced at CHF 6200, this watch is now available to purchase!

The Oris Altimeter Mechanical Watch, 2014
The Oris Altimeter Mechanical Watch, 2014

Technical Specifications:

Case: Single-piece carbon fibre case, grey
PVD-plated titanium bezel and case back
Size: 47.00 mm (1.85 inches)
Dial: Black with altitude scale on dial ring in either feet or metres
Luminous: material Indices, numbers and hands printed with Super-LumiNova®
Top glass: Sapphire, domed on both sides, anti-reflective coating on both sides
Case back: Grey PVD-plated titanium,screwed, feet-to-metre conversion chart engravings
Operating devices: Grey PVD-plated titanium screw-in security crown at 2 o’clock, grey PVD-plated titanium screw-in altimeter crown at 4 o’clock
Strap: Green textile strap with brown leather lining, grey PVD-plated titanium folding clasp with fine adjustment system
Water resistance: 10 bar (100 metres)
Number:Oris 793
Functions: Hours, minutes and central sweep seconds hands, date with quick setting, stop second device, date window at 3 o’clock
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 56 hours


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *