Oris first introduced the BC3 (Big Crown) collection back in 1999, and since that time it’s been a mainstay within Oris’ cataloge of sports replica watches. Though pilot inspired, the BC3 range has stood apart from other replica watches in the genre by offering something a bit more aesthetically different, namely the large, geometric case that has remained largely unchanged (give or take a few details) since its inception.
For 2016, Oris revisited the BC3 line with the release of the BC3 Advanced Day/Date in gunmetal grey, a finish that gives the replica watch a cool, aggressive look, but one that’s a bit more versatile than simple black PVD. And at $1,500, it’s relatively well priced for a Swiss-made replica watch produced by a respected and longstanding firm. The question remains, is it worth adding to your collection? Let’s take a closer look.
The case is the first thing that really pops with the BC3. It has significant presence, with a slab-sided cylindrical mid-case, angular crown guards, and protruding barreled lugs giving the replica watch its standout look. The “ORIS”-signed crown, true to name of the model, is big and easy to grasp and operate. Overall, the case geometry is far from subtle, but it is incredibly cool looking (especially on the wrist, but more on that later).
The BC3 case boasts some severe geometry throughout. Note the small red accent ring on the screw-in crown.
Equally arresting is the color of the plating. Oris calls it gunmetal grey, but I’d liken it to more of an aged pewter look, especially under warm light. It’s an incredibly attractive palette, and it plays well against the dial. Furthermore, Oris makes excellent use of the various case surfaces, most of which are lightly brushed. There is, however, a small polished lip on the bezel where it meets the mid-case, which makes for some nice contrast against the the rest of the case. If you’ve ever handled an Oris replica watch, then you know that the case finishing never disappoints.
Flip the replica watch over and you’re met with an open case back showcasing the Sellita SW 200-1 (which is in itself an ETA 2824 clone) with a custom red Oris rotor, a feature found on all Oris automatics. This is probably the weakest point on the replica watch. As a matter of preference, I’d much rather have a solid case back if a movement is left largely without decoration as it is here. That said, it’s not unattractive (the red rotor does add a bit more flair to the design), and I’m sure most customers would prefer to see the exposed movement, decorated or not.
The dial then is a matching gunmetal grey with a subtle sunburst finish. Sunburst dials, when done poorly, can really cheapen the look of a replica watch. That’s not what we have here, with the very fine dial finishing complementing the case brushing quite nicely. Together, the two elements come together to give the replica watch a bit of a tactical look.
As I wrote above, the dial has a lot flieger DNA, but it’s not derivative. There is a primary hours index with large Arabic numerals. A secondary index along the very outer edge of the dial represents the seconds/minutes, with heavier indices at every five-minute interval. Rather than have a triangle at 12, the indices double up. The hands then are stylized swords, featuring white-painted borders and lume-filled centers. The second hand is a long black needle with a white tip. The dial and hands feature tan-colored Super-LumiNova, what some might refer to as faux patina. The effort here feels less like an attempt to ape aged tritium, and more like an intentional match against the warmer tones of the case and dial.
Above six are two centrally aligned day/date windows. The discs have a black base with white printing, so they’re not an exact match to the dial. However, the slight contrast here works as the implementation of the two apertures at six maintains the overall symmetry of the design. Day/date complications often feel intrusive when placed at three, but the stacked approach at six feels well thought out. Furthermore, the day/date is balanced by the Oris logo and “AUTOMATIC” below 12.
The sample shown here came on a heavy-duty, two-piece nylon strap. It’s well made and rugged, and the olive coloring matches the warm tones of the case. The strap is a bit stiff at first, partly due to it being two layers of stacked nylon, but it breaks in quickly and eventually molds to the wrist. The strap also comes with matching hardware, and like the case, it is expertly machined and finished. Overall, the pairing works, but this replica watch would also have zero issue taking on a number of different leather straps should the occasion call for dressing the piece up a bit.
On the wrist, the BC3 has some major presence. I wrote above that this is not a subtle replica watch. It’s a solid chunk of metal and it wears as such. That said, given the dimensions–42mm by 51.5mm, and a thickness of just 11.5mm–it remains a perfectly balanced sports replica watch. The case design is what makes the BC3 feel like a larger replica watch (43mm or so), but it’s not unreasonable on the wrist. And as you can see below, it’s relatively easy to pair with an outfit of blues and browns.
Overall, I ended my trial run with the latest entry into the BC3 catalog highly impressed. As someone who has handled numerous replica watches from Oris, I knew I wouldn’t be let down with the fit and finish. I wasn’t. What was surprising, however, was just how unique the replica watch felt despite it being a riff on a familiar genre. And at a list price of $1,500, the Oris punches well above its weight class. If you’ve had your eye on this one, it won’t disappoint.