Shortly after the launch of the Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer, Oris is introducing another limited edition watch into its Big Crown family: The Big Crown D.26 286 HB-RAG Oris Limited Edition; a watch inspired by the historic Dewoitine D.26 aircraft, an iconic pre-war aircraft that was made in Switzerland and used to train pilots. Oris has always had a rich aviation history. The company’s links with flying go back to the dawn of flight in the early 1910s when it produced its first aviation-inspired watch. Oris’s first pilot’s wristwatch followed soon after and is celebrated a century later with this year’s 1917 Limited Edition. The Big Crown family was introduced in 1938 as war loomed, and proved an invaluable tool to pilots who needed a clearly legible timepiece with an oversized crown that made the watch easy to adjust while gloved during flight.
Dewoitine D.26 286 HB-RAG
The Dewoitine D.26 286 HB-RAG was put into service on August 20, 1931, one of 11 aircrafts commissioned by the Swiss government and built under licence by the Eidgenössische Konstruktionswerkstaette K+W (Federal construction workshop) in Thun, Switzerland. It remained in the Swiss Air Force until 1948 and was used to instruct trainee pilots. After it was decommissioned, it was used to tow glider aircraft into the air in Lausanne, Sion and Zurich. A long period of neglect followed, before it was restored and then exhibited in a museum in Dübendorf, near Zurich. In 2015, the Dewoitine D.26 286 HB-RAG was passed into the care of Hangar 31, who maintain it and regularly fly it, continuing its historic story. Today, it’s one of only two original D.26s still flying.
Alright, let’s get one thing straight. You don’t necessarily have to be a pilot to love this new release from Oris. Well at least that’s what we think. The Big Crown D.26 286 HB-RAG definitely has a certain kind of sensibility, that’s quite different to its peers; be it price, value or aesthetics.
Limited to 1,931 pieces, the year the Dewoitine D.26 286 HB-RAG was first put into service, the watch is offered in a 40mm multi-piece stainless steel case. It is based on the original Big Crown design and inherits its fluted bezel and central pointer date hand, now Oris’s signature complication. The watch’s case back is embossed with an image of the D.26 286 HB-RAG plane, and also carries an engraving of the limited edition number.
Its brown leather strap, green dial and special leather pouch (featuring an additional dark brown leather strap) are inspired by finishes and materials in the D.26’s cockpit. Beating inside is an automatic mechanical movement: Oris’ Calibre 754, based on Sellita SW 200-1, with a pointer date function.
Behind the watch is a new partnership between Oris and ‘Hangar 31’, a group of volunteer enthusiasts who preserve and fly the historic Dewoitine D.26 aircraft from their base in the Swiss town of Grenchen, in the foothills of the Jura Mountains. Hangar 31’s motto is ‘Conservare et volare’, conserve and fly.
‘We’re delighted to support Hangar 31’s work preserving the Dewoitine D.26 and to be perpetuating the story of this historically significant aircraft,’ said Oris Chairman Ulrich W. Herzog. ‘Oris is a historic watchmaker with very close ties to the world of aviation, and it’s part of our vision to continue supporting the work of organisations such as Hangar 31 – without them so much of our shared heritage would simply disappear.’
‘Oris’s support is vital to the future of both the D.26 and our organisation,’ said Peter Brotschi of Hangar 31. ‘We’re extremely grateful for the company’s commitment to our work and delighted by the Big Crown D.26 286 HB-RAG Oris Limited Edition, a fitting tribute to a remarkable watchmaking story and a remarkable aircraft.’
Price in Australian Dollars
RRP: AUD $2,600