Oris Williams Valtteri Bottas Limited Edition
There are not too many brands who can boast a watch with a Formula 1 pedigree. In the 80s and 90s, the romantic era of Formula 1 when 1500 turbo engines were being replaced by naturally aspirated engines with 12, 10 and 8 cylinders, the world of horlogerie gradually gave up racing circuits to devote its energy to other sports instead. In the early 2000s, many brands disappeared from the paddock altogether. Oris, unlike its competitors, is among those brands that since the early 2000s – 2003 to be more precise - has believed in car-racing and has built an unbreakable tie with it. Today, many brands have decided to move back to the world of engines with animosity, some of them as official partners – I am referring to ROLEX – some of them side by side with Ferrari – I am talking about Hublot – but we need to give credit to Oris’s vision that made it to the top of the podium.
I grew up reading tons of Formula 1 magazines, waiting for Ferrari to make its big come-back and I decided to become an engineer to follow my passion for cars, those of you, who are like me, know perfectly well that carbon fiber represents the modern era of Formula 1, for some aspects, even more than engines themselves. The use of carbon fiber has migrated from the aerospace sector to that of Formula 1 and it has allowed engineers and designers to craft lighter and unbreakable single-seaters (although this aspect could affect the pilot when an accident occurs). The steady evolution of this material has spread its use to other engine types, then to production cars and, soon, as many believe, it will also be mass-produced. The union between Oris and Williams has been lasting for 13 years and 2016 witnessed the birth of the Oris Williams Valtteri Bottas Limited Edition with a carbon fiber case.
Valtteri Bottas is the latest heir of the famous Finnish racing school and the Oris Williams Valtteri Bottas Limited Edition is a chronograph with a case made from polymers of interwoven layers of carbon fiber – this is called “mat” in technical jargon – that are then manually applied one on top of the other to be eventually placed (twice) inside an oven and heated at a temperature of 130°C. This is a process that is not too dissimilar from the process that Alfa Romeo uses to craft the 4C’s body.
The final result is a 44mm-case that weighs slightly more than 7 grams – 7.2 grams to be more precise – and with a twisting rigidity than no other stainless-steel case, with the same design, could ever boast. The use of carbon fiber is limited to the central nucleus of the case and the dial; the other parts are metal-made.
The case-back is made of a titanium alloy that has been treated with a black DLC coating to which Oris has applied Valtteri’s race number (number 77), his name and the progressive number of the limited series; 770 samples in total will be released. The crown and the buttons are also titanium-made.
Apart from the case and the dial, this is actually a traditional chronograph. Many are the elements that make it a classic chronograph; the three-counter-layout – the counters are located at 3,6, and 9 o’clock respectively -, the extremely thin bezel, the engraved tachymetric scale, the ample dial and the blue hands that remind us of the colours of Martini, the sponsor of the English single-seater. The official logo of the team is engraved on a ring made of a titanium alloy and coupled with the central part made of carbon fiber. The white logo sports the same colour as the applied indices that have been filled with white SuperLuminova on the dial (they are actually applied only at 3 o’clock and at 9 o’clock). The chrono caliber is still the 647, a customized version of an ETA 7750, but this will soon change since Oris is soon becoming a complete manufacturing company.
The retail price of the Oris Williams Valtteri Bottas Limited Edition is 4,150 euro; this watch is the only feasible solution for those people who are looking for a sporty chronograph with a carbon-fiber-made-case. The case is entirely hand-made and the partnership between the manufacturer and the Formula 1 team is a sober one – almost implied – the Williams logo that appears on the ring coupled with the case and the bezel is extremely elegant and that’s exactly what an enthusiast is looking for. The fact that Oris has decided to join forces with one of the most romantic and innovative Formula 1 teams (the team founded by Frank was the first team to introduce active suspensions 20 years ago) make this timepiece extremely interesting for all those who love the Grand Prix and know everything about it. There are other interesting products made of carbon fiber within the same positioning sector, they might feature a comparable crafting but none of them can boast a partnership with the world of car racing and that makes them much less “believable” (image-wise) in the eyes of the fans of the genre.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Entropik)
Gaetano C @Horbiter