Oris just announced its all-new in-house 400 automatic movement, and it’s a radical new design for the Swiss company. This isn’t a new version of the brand’s existing extended-PR hand wound movements, nor is it yet another ETA 2824 clone, but rather it’s a unique design with a lot of interesting advantages. Photos of the new movement are pretty scarce today, so I’ve decided to do this movement preview a little differently than usual and break it down into a series of short sections illuminating interesting or impressive aspects of the Cal. 400.
1: 10-Year Service Interval
Perhaps the most remarkable element of today’s announcement is that Oris has adopted a 10-year service interval for the Cal. 400. Likewise, the movement (and I assume the watches that have the movement, but that’s not totally certain right now) is warrantied for 10 years, so Oris is really committed to this rating. Oris claims that this was possible through a series of efficiency improvements throughout the Cal. 400, and I’ll get to those in greater detail in their respective sections.
2: Five-Day Power Reserve
Oris has been doing extended-PR movements for years now, so this part isn’t really a surprise (impressive though it may be), but what is new is the move to dual mainsprings instead of a single enormous one, which is what they’ve historically used. Double-barrel designs are more popular than ever these days, in part because, compared to a single giant barrel, there is more freedom in the overall design and sizing of a movement, which is what might have allowed Oris to keep the size of their new movement reasonable so that it could fit a wide variety of future watches.
Oris has chosen silicon components for the escapement and non-ferrous materials almost everywhere else, so the movement should be very resistant to magnetism. Oris claims a roughly 90% improvement in anti-magnetic performance compared to an ordinary Swiss watch (which they seem to use as shorthand for the ISO 764 standard). The benefit of this design, as opposed to the more common soft iron core, is that the resulting watch can be thinner, lighter, and have a display back.
For the Cal. 400, Oris made efficiency a priority. Oris claims to have refined a number of areas. For instance, Oris says that the efficiency of energy transmission from the mainspring has been increased to 85%, up from 70%. They also say that they’ve substantially reduced the torque from the mainspring which reduces wear, improving longevity to reach that 10-year service interval.
5: Unidirectional Winding
Most modern movements use bidirectional winding mechanisms, which just means that the mainspring is wound regardless of whether the rotor rotates clockwise or counterclockwise, but there has been a growing trend to move to unidirectional winding mechanisms over the last 15 or 20 years. The motivation for Oris, apparently, was a significant decrease in wear in the unidirectional system. Even more interesting is the switch away from the use of ceramic ball bearings, which have for some time now been considered to be the de facto solution for premium automatic winding systems. Oris instead is using some form of slide bearing, which is a simpler approach, and Oris claims more durable.
The Cal. 400
I’m very impressed with this new Oris movement. One of the things that’s always irritated me is that many watch brands will come up with their own movement simply to establish their in-house credentials without actually doing anything interesting or beneficial with it. The Cal. 400, conversely, seems to offer the Oris fan a great deal of unique features and advantages, and will probably make a really convenient automatic movement that neither needs frequent winding or maintenance. If Oris can keep the prices reasonable on the watches that use this movement (none of which have been announced yet) this will be an extremely competitive offering and enhance the mechanical-centric identity of Oris as a brand. I’ll revisit the Cal. 400 when I get a watch with it to review, ideally with a display back, so I can break the movement down in much greater depth than I can here based simply on a press release.