Oris Modern Classic Review by a Newbie


Posted by Ed Hahn on September 25,
1998 at 10:19:26:

Bulletin Board Post Number: 112

Posted from Host: gatekeeper-w.mitre.org (

Oris Modern Classic

Ref. No. 640 7476

List Price $1095 steel bracelet / $975 leather strap

First off, let me say that I am a newcomer to the high-end watch arena, but
have been fascinated by the tight-knit community that TimeZone has. I must also
say that its great having all of this information available at one’s fingertips.

In an attempt to live up to the above spirit, I humbly submit the following
as my first attempt at a watch review. Most of the background was obtained
through their “High Mech Book” – their watch catalog – and through
other posts here and elsewhere.

Physical Characteristics / Background

The watch that has opened up a door to a new hobby for me is the Oris Modern
Classic (Style 7476), housing a caliber 640 movement. This particular example is
white face with stainless case and bracelet. The caliber 640 is an Oris
modification of an ETA 2836-2 movement. In addition to a small seconds at 9
o’clock, the Oris also features a pointer calendar rather than a date window –
which is one of the more common features of their line. The styling evokes a
“retro” feel, but is definitely a contemporary product. It also
features a mineral glass back for viewing the movement, and is rated water
resistant to 30m. Paris1925 has a good image of this watch at www.paris1925.com.

The case measures 37mm in width (not including a 3mm high crown), and is
approximately 9.5mm thick. This is a big change for me, having moved from two
rather bulky Seiko analog quartz chronometers (including the Flight Computer
watch). The width between case lugs is 20mm, and this example comes equipped
with a rather substantial and high-quality-feel stainless bracelet. Leather
straps are also available. Oris is a company based in the German-speaking region
of Switzerland, in Holstein near the city of Basel. They were founded in 1904,
and were originally restricted by Swiss law in the production of pin-lever (as
opposed to jeweled-lever) movements. Sometime in the middle of the century
(1940’s?) they joined a consortium which allowed them to at last start using
jeweled-lever movements. Guy Fisk from alt.horology contributed the following:

“Oris originally joined with Longines and Rado to form General Watch,
but when that group mutated into the SMH group, Oris packed their bags and left
the group. Watch manufacturer known for their independence and high quality.
They have made many innovative watches and they refuse to automatically slap a 5
figure price tag on their watches because of it.”

I appreciate Oris because they are upfront about their movements – they state
very clearly that they source their base movements from ETA, and make in-house
modifications to them.

The Oris line is completely mechanical, and is oriented toward
low-to-mid-priced watches. They only have one COSC certified movement (also
based on an ETA 2836-2, but with a Glucydur balance wheel), but offer many
different styles including a series of regulator-style watches and a worldtimer
with pushbutton setting of a second timezone. The fact that the worldtimer’s
movement is patented, as it allows for changing of the date display
automatically as part of setting the timezone, reflects on the company’s
“innovative” philosophy.

Movement & Accuracy

The fact that Oris feels confident enough to equip the watch with a
see-through back is reflected in the appearance of the movement. The plate,
which is silver-colored, is not decorated, but still has a good workman-like
matte finish. Contrasting in color are the various wheels of the movement which
are polished brass colored, except for one of the winding train gears (polished
stainless or nickel) and the balance wheel itself (silver). The winding rotor is
made of brass, and (if I’m interpreting Jack Freedman’s article on the subject
correctly) has an attractive Guilloche finish, with the words “ORIS 640 27
JEWELS SWISS MADE” engraved on it.

Oh – about those 27 jewels. Aside from the obvious one supporting the balance
wheel, the other visible jewels primarily support the winding mechanism click
wheels, with one other large one supporting something located behind the 7
o’clock marking on the dial. As for their usefulness, I don’t know. After all,
many Valijoux 7750 *chronograph* movements do fine with less than 20! Certainly
the winding efficiency of the automatic mechanism is fine – it will give the
full 38 hour reserve with only a couple hours on the wrist.

Most of the visible screws appear to be polished, with only the two bridge
plate screws being blued. All appear to be well-finished.

The movement beats at 28,800 A/hr, and is equipped with an Incabloc shock
absorber system. The balance wheel is a smooth-rimmed monolithic design without
means to adjust the wheel’s moment of inertia.

After several months of wearing the watch, the daily rate appears to be -5
sec/day. Off the wrist, the movement will gain 1-2 seconds per day if left in
the face up or face down position, but will lose about the same if oriented
vertically in several directions. When I feel motivated to get the rate
adjusted, I will do so, but haven’t been all that bothered.

Case, Crystal, and Bracelet

The case on this watch is polished stainless, and is absolutely beautiful.
All of the edges have a consistent appearance (i.e. no variation in being sharp
or rounded off). Once gets the impression that this case will be bullet-proof.

The crown on this watch is about 5mm in diameter, and has a raised “ORIS”
embossed on it. (This watch is *not* part of the “Big Crown” line –
which allowed pilots to wind the watch with gloves on.) The crown does not have
protective lugs, nor does it screw down.

The crystal is flat sapphire, and protrudes about 0.5mm above the bezel
surface. It does not have any anti-reflective coatings applied, but glare does
not affect readability of the dial.

The bracelet is also polished stainless, with a brushed clasp and polished
fliplock. The fliplock has Oris engraved into it. As I mentioned above, the
bracelet on this watch feels substantial and high-quality. The links are cast or
forged pieces, not crimped sheet metal like my previous Seikos. The hinges
contain bushings, and thus will not catch arm hair in between them.
Unfortunately, that also prevents me from adjusting the length easily myself.

Dial and Hands

The dial of this watch is what attracted me to the line in the first place.
My wife and I had decided to buy each other watches for birthday presents. After
purchasing a Movado quartz for her, we cast about for alternatives. Being an
engineer and gadgety-kind-of-guy, I was originally looking at a Seiko Kinetic or
Citizen Ecodrive. However, at one specialty watch shop, I was attracted to the
look of that white-faced dial with the retro styling, combined with the
automatic movement. My father had a couple of automatic Seikos prior to the
quartz era, and I always liked the heft of the watch and the feel of the winding
mechanism (which was, I believe, oscillatory rather than rotational in its

The dial is a matte white-silver color, and has a fine web-like embossed
decoration on the inner part of both the main and small seconds dials. Around
the outer perimeter are two rows of embossed “X” patterns, with the
calendar date arranged between them. The embossings are absolutely flawless, and
clearly represent someone’s careful work on the dial dies.

The hour hand is large and triangular, with the inner part skeletonized. The
minute hand is a straight index shape; both hands are blued with inner luminescent
paint marks. Only the 12 o’clock position has a numeral – 3 and 6 are truncated
wedge shapes, and the remaining hours markers are lozenge shaped. All have blued
perimeters and are filled with luminous paint. At night, the markers do not glow
all that brightly, so I do not know whether the markers contain tritium or are
simply phosphorescent. No “T” or “T<25″ markings are
present, either. The second hand is a very thin pointer (“alpha”
shaped) and is red colored, as is the crescent at the tip of the pointer
calendar hand.

and calendar dates) printed on the dial. The entire dial appears to have a very
light lacquer or other protective coating applied.


All in all, I feel that I made a good (and lucky!) decision in purchasing
this watch. I admit that I knew very little about mechanical movements and
watchmaking in general at the time of purchase. However, through the Oris
booklet as well as TimeZone, I feel that I’ve learned a lot about the subject,
and look forward to learning even more. Now my only problem is figuring out a
way to convince my wife that I “need” a Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Duo
and a Breitling Cosmonaute…

Ed Hahn