With the launch of the calibre 400 last year we originally saw the movement housed in only the 43.5mm Aquis case but since Watches and Wonders, we have seen a slew of releases and variations involving the Cali”bear” 400. The all-black DLC Aquis Pro with its patented safety rotation system on the bezel. The Calibre 401 featured in the Carl Brashear 65 in which they removed the date wheel and added a sub-seconds. The more recent 403 in the new 250 piece Holstein Ltd edition by adding a date pointer for the reimagined big crown Date pointer, marking their 117th Birthday.
The Aquis cal 400 had been compared to the Black Bay 58 Blue at their time of release and why not. Both watches ask for a similar RRP with the Tudor only being £60 more. Both had a blue dial, both feature an in house movement. But the comparisons stop there because on paper the Calibre 400 beats out the 58. With a twin-barrel 5-day power reserve, anti-magnetic and the industry-leading 10-year Guarantee. All for under 3k! The downside for the Oris was the bigger 43.5mm case size and value retention which is the favourite argument for any Rolex and Tudor collector.
Well, now Oris has sort of fixed one of those things? The Oris Aquis Cal 400 now comes in a smaller case size bringing it more in line with the BB58 case size at 41.5mm. Okay so it’s 2.5mm bigger and I’m not going to try and convince you that the 2.5mm difference isn’t noticeable. What I will say though is that it is so much more wearable than its original. Oris have even been kind enough to give us two new colours: A green sunburst and a Grey sunburst that fades to black (I didn’t get a chance to see this one in the metal or get any photos). The new green dial feels like a darker Hangang Green that fades to a black on the outskirts of the dial. Almost Moser Pioneer”esc” with a dark green ceramic bezel. The new colourway is actually quite striking and possibly my new favourite green dial watch. If you loved the original blue dial that the Cal 400 came in but wanted the smaller case size, it’s okay Oris has you covered. With the introduction of these colours in the new case size, you might think the original 43.5mm might be getting some new colours too, but you’d be wrong the original is going to stay in blue for a little while longer it seems.
On the wrist, this watch feels amazing. It’s a great size, feeling very much like the Oris Diver 65 for all the Oris collectors that have always preferred the 65 over the Aquis, this could be the Aquis for you. Much like the 65, the bracelet tapers down making the watch feel light on the wrist and non-obstructive. In all honesty, a tapering bracelet has never been a deal-breaker for me. In fact, it was never even a consideration, until I saw a video by Adrian over at Bark and Jack where he lists it as one of the negatives of his Seamaster. It seemed pointless to me at first but then the idea was planted and now it’s something I find myself looking at when I consider a new watch. (Thanks for that Adrian).
The 40.5mm keeps the quick release bracelet making strap changes quicker and easier. Hopefully, we should expect to see a variety of colours for the straps coming through the next year from Oris. Failing that there are always aftermarket straps. I can imagine the green dial looking great against a distressed brown leather strap. Oris please make these, thanks in advance.
My final thoughts are that while I never found the original 43.5mm too big or unwearable because the lug to lug isn’t extreme and also due to the lugs being faceted straight down it has never felt over sized. With the smaller size it’s just far more versatile and practical. It’s a true desk diver that will fit under the cuff because let’s face it, probably 2% of us will actually ever dive with it. We might take it swimming though.