Vintage-inspired dive watches have flooded the market over the last decade. Many of these modern day retro divers are from newly-founded microbrands looking to capitalize on the trend. Oris, however, is no new kid on the block.
Operating as an independent Swiss manufacturer since 1904, Oris has a rich history from which to seek internal inspiration.
When they decided to enter the neovintage dive watch segment in 2015, Oris pulled aesthetic cues from a watch they originally produced in 1965 and used that same design language to launch the Divers Sixty-Five–a model range they’ve since expanded to over 50 unique watches.
In this review we’ll take a closer look at the stainless steel 40mm blue dial variant (Oris Reference 01 733 7707 4055-07 8 20 18).
We’ll explore the positive and negative points of the lineup, try to pinpoint what has made the Oris Divers Sixty-Five such a hit for Oris and ultimately determine whether or not this is the right watch for you.
The Oris Divers Sixty-Five’s most compelling (and perhaps most polarizing) feature is its vintage “charm.” At a glance, this looks like a vintage watch. In hand, this feels like a vintage watch. Sure, it’s a modern watch built to [mostly] modern standards, but there’s a certain lo-fi quirkiness present which many will find endearing (and others will no doubt find off-putting).
My initial impressions were quite mixed on this particular watch, and we’ll see why as we dive deeper into the details. Immediately clear, however, was how comfortable this 40mm Oris Divers Sixty-Five wore on my 6.75” wrist. With 36mm and 42mm sizes also available, it should be a piece of cake for anyone to find a Divers Sixty-Five that fits well regardless of personal preference and wrist size.
The Divers Sixty-Five’s case is one area in which this piece really shines. While the design and finishing of the case is rather simple on the surface, Oris did an outstanding job with proportions that yield real world comfort.
In a world of overly thick and bulky dive watches, Oris deserves high praise for such a low-slung profile.
The midcase gently arcs downward from its midpoint toward each lug tip, allowing the watch to conform nicely to the natural curvature of most wrists. Furthermore, the midcase is remarkably thin for a dive watch, resulting in a piece that wears very flat to the wrist. The crown is unimpeded by crown guards and exceptionally easy to manipulate while setting the time and date. Not only is the crown highly functional but it looks great too, complete with signed ORIS text. In stark contrast to the understated case and crown, which go about their business in an unassuming way, the massively domed sapphire crystal shouts its merits from the rooftops. The height and shape of the domed crystal is like nothing I’ve ever seen before with sapphire glass. It truly looks like a vintage domed acrylic crystal, which is quite a feat on Oris’s part. These elements combine with the dynamic dial color to make for a watch I often find myself staring at while rotating my wrist around–playing with distortions and colors and light–all while completely forgetting to check the time.
The stainless steel bezel with black aluminum insert is fairly standard if not unremarkable. The grip offered by the bezel teeth is adequate even when wet and the unidirectional 120-click action is relatively positive with marginal backplay. While the bezel action, materials and design aren’t going to win any awards, they get the job done.
At the Oris Divers Sixty-Five ’s price point I’ve experienced several bezels that are markedly worse and fewer still that are markedly better. I can’t heap praise on anything about this bezel but it is par for the course and I’d rate it as sufficient overall.
Typically the dial and hands are where most watches establish a large portion of their identity, but this particular variant of the Divers Sixty-Five lineup is fairly straightforward and non-descript.
Especially in comparison to the original 2015 Oris Divers Sixty-Five release which featured large, retro-funky 12-3-6-9 block outlined numerals on the dial). What this particular watch lacks in a strong stylistic statement, it makes up for in visual interest thanks to the incredibly dynamic blue hue of the dial. In low light the dial can appear completely black. In bright light there’s a glossy navy depth that is mesmerizing. In overcast light, or when viewed from harsh angles, the dial can read as charcoal grey. The color-shifting illusion of this dial finish is easily one of my favorite features of this watch. Lume is present, if not a wholly disappointing. So often, vintage-inspired “aged radium” luminova doesn’t glow with the same intensity or duration as untinted lume and the Divers Sixty-Five is no exception.
Furthermore, the luminous plots on the dial are several shades darker than the hands and bezel pip.
Not only does this mismatched lume application glow at different intensities (with the dial markings never getting as bright or lasting as long as the hands and bezel pip), the lume is clearly different shades even in broad daylight.
I personally couldn’t get past this visual dissonance. It really bothered me. Poorly serviced vintage watches are often seen with this same mismatched look after sloppy watchmakers slap new replacement hands and bezel inserts onto older watches.
I get that same vibe here with the Oris Divers Sixty-Five . Not exactly the feeling you want your $2,000 Swiss timepiece to evoke as you admire it.
Oris should have matched the lume application across the entire watch or they should have stuck to pure white lume throughout. Either route would improve the watch considerably. Moving on, the date window situated at 6 o’clock is positioned well for visual symmetry and features a black base with white numerals. At this price point I’d like to see the date wheel matched to the dial color, but the date window implementation is useful overall (if not otherwise routine).
The Divers Sixty-Five’s caseback is solid stainless steel and features the watch’s basic specifications around the perimeter with the Oris logo etched prominently in the middle. A common critique of the Divers Sixty-Five line is the notated 100 meters of water resistance, however this is not a problem in my eyes. This watch features a screwdown crown and is rated to depths 2-3x deeper than most recreational divers will ever go. Unless you’re the 1% of the 1% of the population that saturation dives, this watch will confidently handle splashing around in any local body of water.
Under the solid caseback is Oris caliber 733, which is Oris’s name for the ubiquitous Sellita SW-200 automatic movement fitted with the hallmark Oris red winding rotor. Standard in many watches in the $300-3,000 price range, this base movement is a favorite among a myriad of brands for good reason.
Owners can expect relatively accurate timekeeping and reliable operation on a day to day basis. It’s also easy and cheap to service for any competent watchmaker, and replacement parts are readily accessible to ensure long term serviceability.
A well-made watch with this movement should last any owner a lifetime. At the price point of the Divers-Sixty, it could be argued that the higher grade Sellita SW-300 movement should have been used, but Oris can hardly be faulted for their movement choice here. The brushed stainless steel bracelet’s signature features are the heavy taper and vintage-inspired faux rivets. Bracelet sizing is 20mm at the endlinks and steps down dramatically to 14mm at the clasp. This taper serves to keep weight and bulk low while keeping comfort high.
Very few bracelets feature such a dramatic taper, and it took me a while to get accustomed to visually. The taper was almost too dramastic to the point of looking nearly diminutive at the clasp, but for a watch leaning so heavily on vintage styling, the Divers Sixty-Five manages to pull off the look. The clasp is standard for the price and well made. Etched ORIS, the clasp released with very nice twin triggers and the swing arms are milled out of the same 316L stainless steel used throughout. Sizing the bracelet is done with pins and collars, which is quite frankly disappointing for a watch at this price point. Screwed links should be a given for any modern watch above $500 in my personal opinion, and this cost-cutting measure cheapens the ownership experience of this watch considerably. It’s worth noting that there is no diver’s extension present, so if you do intend to use this watch for diving, you’ll need to consider swapping out the bracelet for a different strap with more reach.
My favorite thing about the Divers Sixty-Five is the wearing experience thanks to the brilliant case sizing and proportions. Few dive watches rival the comfort of this Oris on the wrist. I also thoroughly enjoy how the dynamic dial color and domed sapphire crystal play with varying light–together they combine for a mesmerizing viewing experience.
For me, the most disappointing design element of this watch has to be the mismatched lume between the dial markers, hands and bezel pip.
The Divers Sixty-Five feels amazing on wrist, the dial and crystal look incredible in shifting life, but when I actually engage with the watch for time-telling purposes I can’t see anything other than haphazard lume that leaves me with the unsettling impression of a carelessly serviced vintage watch. I love vintage-inspired watches, but there is a certain level of quality and attention to detail that I expect out of a modern timepiece. Brand heritage alone isn’t enough to justify a price premium in my eyes.
In fact, while writing this review, I found myself searching out synonyms for “unremarkable” as I ran out of different ways to say that the overall execution left me wanting.
The lume issue notwithstanding, the Divers Sixty-Five’s bezel, case finishing, bracelet construction, clasp construction, dial design, hand design and movement are all sufficient. “Sufficient” is a tough pill to swallow at the $2,000 price point when “remarkable” is available.