This is my review of the Oris Aquis. Over the last year, this watch has been my daily driver. Being a college student, I don't have the income (yet) to spend money on more than one luxury watch, so when I was in the market to replace my daily high-school watch (a Tag Heuer F1), I wanted something that would be extremely versatile, understated, but attractive, and the Aquis fit the bill perfectly. This is one of the least expensive watches in the Oris lineup, costing roughly $1700 retail (although I picked on up for about $1300 from eBay from a reputable dealer). Oris is widely known in our community for offering well-built watches for their price, and the Aquis is certainly no exception. Scroll down for high-quality images!
The Aquis' design is one of the most appealing aspects of the watch. It's unmistakably a divers watch, with its flat, untextured black face and matching coined ceramic bezel. The Aquis has a very robust appearance and feel, reminiscent of a tool-diver. Despite its obvious divers-watch design elements, no "regular" person would mistake an Aquis for a traditional diver. There are many distinguishable characteristics that clearly give this watch a unique look. The ceramic bezel is brushed, which gives the watch a surprisingly understated appearance when matched with the flat, untextured face. The rounded off, sword-esque hands are also fairly unique in this category, as are the slightly rounded hour indicies with chromework on both the left and right sides (but notably, not on the inside or outside-facing edges of the indicies). Lume is abundant on this watch, and very bright. I don't sleep with a bedside alarm-clock, so when I wake up in the middle of the night, I rely on my watch to tell the time. Thankfully, the Aquis lume is very bright even after 4 or 5 hours of darkness. Telling the time in the middle of the night is very easy. Every hour indice features this bright lume, even at the 6:00 position where the date complication sits. There is also a lume dot on the bezel at 12:00. Oh and speaking of the date complication, it has a very unique design element you don't normally see on watches: white text on a black background (matching the color scheme of the watch face). Compare this to popular divers at various price-points (from the Seiko Sumo to Tag Heuer Aquaracers, and even "minimalist" divers such as the beautiful Tudor Pelagos). Indeed, the face-matching date window is fairly rare (at least, for black-faced watches). This is a design aspect that should not be overlooked.
The beautiful, uncluttered face is mated with a heavy, resilient stainless-steel case. The crown guard is held in place with two oddly-shaped screws, which gives the watch a more robust appearance. That robust theme is further emphasized with the easily visible screw-in lugs and screw-in links on the bracelet. Last but not least is the clasp, which is surprisingly well designed. It features three micro-adjustments, a double-push locking mechanism, and a very nice folding design. The back of the clasp has a brushed finish, and features a large "ORIS" engraving as well. The clasp is incredibly comfortable, silent, and easy to take on/off. I whole-heartedly believe that this is the way all diver clasps should be designed. Well done Oris!
This watch might not be designed to everyones taste, but there is no denying that the Aquis not only brings a modern design to the table, but a surprisingly versatile one as well. Being a member of a fraternity, there are plenty of occasions where I need to be wearing a blazer and tie. The Aquis matches beautifully with this type of atire (but lets be honest, most divers can deliver this pretty easily). The relatively thin profile of the watch certainly helps in this regard. Given the relatively modern and simplistic design, the Aquis also works well on the "laid back" nights where I'm simply wearing a t-shirt and gym shorts. The Aquis is the type of watch that looks great with just about any outfit.
Build quality / materials
The Aquis is spectacularly built. The bezel has absolutely no wiggle, and gives a very affirmative click when turned. Furthermore, the bracelet is secured entirely using screw down pins and lugs. In fact, the only push-pin on the watch can be found where the clasp meets the upper half of the bracelet, used for the micro-adjustments. Everything else is screw-down.
The watch has a fairly hefty weight that definitely gives off a "robust" feel when on the wrist. This is due to the thick stainless-steel case, in addition to the chunky bracelet and generously-enforced clasp (and of course, the mechanical movement). Both windows on the Aquis are made of sapphire, which is really nice to see at this price point. As mentioned earlier, the bezel is made out of brushed ceramic.
The Aquis is built out of materials that will inarguably stand the test of time.
The movement, on the other hand...
Before I start discussing my incredibly mixed experiences with the movement, lets get the specifications out of the way. The Aquis runs on a Sellita SW-200 movement. People have torn opinions on this movement at the $1300 price-point. Some members whole-heartedly believe paying $1300 for a Sellita is too much, while others believe the Sellita movement is as good as the highly regarded movements made by ETA (in particular, the ETA 2824).
I'm not a movement nerd by any stretch of the imagination. I generally focus my attention on the design and usability of a watch, with the movement being a secondary concern. I love taking my watch off at random times and looking at the movement through the rear window, but generally speaking, I don't really care how things are running under the hood as long as it works as intended. The SW-200 has simultaneously had streaks of brilliance and moments of complete failure in the year I've owned the Aquis. Here we go...
I bought the watch brand new in mid-May, 2014. I noticed the watch was running fairly accurately (definitely within a usable range: +- 10 seconds a day). Then I moved to Florida to start college in late-June (around the 20th). I was switching time-zones, so I had to re-set the Aquis to reflect the correct eastern time. On September 11th, I made a post on this forum noting the incredible accuracy I was experiencing with the watch. You can read the details here. Long story short, the watch was pretty much on point with time.gov (the server which the watch was originally synchronized) after three months of daily wear. I was amazed! This accuracy continued until mid-November, when I noticed the watch was falling a few seconds (and eventually, minutes) behind the government time.
Fast forward to December 11th: I woke up to find the watch had stopped running during the night. The 40 hour power reserve combined with the slight movements I make during the night should easily be able to drive the watch for an 8 hour night. Something had failed. I tried hand-winding the watch, and was able to get a rotation or two of the crown, but doing so required an excessive amount of force I wasn't comfortable applying. I also noticed that the winding rotor wasn't turning unless I shook the watch.
I took the watch to a local (and trusted) family-owned watchmaking shop. After examination, their watchmaker determined that the watch needed to be lubricated. For $300 he got the watch back in perfect working order. As of writing this review (13th of June, 2015) the watch has been running without a hitch. The watch hand-winds quietly and smoothly, and the rotor freely rotates (as it should). I am pretty confident that the movement wont need to be touched for another 5 to 6 years, but I still have slight insecurities in the back of my mind. Its worth noting that WUS user Tourmalet experienced similar issues with the movement in his Aquis (in response to my thread on the issue) I'll keep this post updated if anything else comes up.
Now that everything is back in working order, the watch is running back to a normal range of -5 to -10 seconds a day.
I absolutely love my Aquis. It's incredibly durable, comfortable, and attractive. The monochromatic design is surprisingly unique in this segment, as is the face-matching date window. The design of the clasp is absolutely second-to-none for a diver, especially at this price point. Now that I've worked out the movement issues, the SW-200 consistently keeps time at -5 to -10 seconds/day, which is perfectly acceptable. Do I wish this watch came with a higher-end ETA movement? Yes. But given how the SW-200 is currently performing, I can't say I'm disappointed.
If you want to dip your toe into the higher end of diving watches, the Aquis is a great place to start. It doesn't try to be prestigious or flashy like an Omega or Rolex, and thats one of its biggest selling-points. The Aquis the watch for people who want a legitimately nice diver (or arguably a tool-diver), but don't necessarily want to pay for a high-end name (and everything that comes with the name). Just realize that, unlike any other aspect of this watch, the movement isn't exceedingly brilliant. The Sellita is more or less a workhouse movement that serves its purpose, and not much else.
Buy the Aquis with confidence! It's a fantastic watch.
Here are some I took of my Aquis after a year of daily wear. I believe its held up very well.