Hold on to your seats, people, because we’ve got quite the matchup for you today.
It’s a battle to find the classiest watches out there from two of the most refined watchmakers in the business. That’s right, it’s time for Oris vs. Baume & Mercier!
Now, we just want to preface this by saying it’s really hard to pick between these two, as they’re both at the top of their game when it comes to amazing Swiss luxury watches. You really can’t go wrong with either. So just keep in mind that this is a totally subjective battle and our incredibly well-thought-out insights won’t necessarily mirror your own.
With that out of the way, let’s get down to it!
Origins - While both brands are venerable and incredibly well-established, Baume & Mercier was actually founded nearly a century before Oris in 1830, the latter starting up in 1904.
The things we would do to be able to go back in time to either company’s earlier days and pick up a vintage timepiece…
Anyways, needless to say that both of these companies have a lot of experience under their belts, even if Baume & Mercier’s is a 19th century styled belt.
Charitable Pedigrees - One thing that’s interesting to note is that both companies are well-documented in their efforts to make the world a better place.
Baume & Mercier has always made it a point to keep a second hand on the pulse of the times, and perhaps there’s no better example of this than their embracing of women’s emancipation in the roaring 20s.
The decade kicked off with a victory for the women’s emancipation movement and the passage of the 19th Amendment. Baume & Mercier were vocal and present supporters of the movement, and remained a part of the cultural fallout that included the height of jazz music, flappers, and nightclubs full of dancing and booze.
Their image took on an aspect of free-spirited class, a Swiss luxury brand for the people who knew how to love life. To put it in their words, “The firm grasped the importance of women’s emancipation and came to regard their desires as an unquenchable source of inspiration.”
Oris, on the other hand, has taken a more naturalistic approach to their championed causes. Most notably, they’ve been partnered with the Reef Restoration Foundation in their efforts to restore the Great Barrier Reef.
Not only is it a great cause that shows the company’s commitment to creating a better world for all living things, but it’s led to some incredibly cool special edition watches with aquatic themes. Saving the planet while delivering fantastic luxury watches is our kind of charity.
But now it’s time to end the niceties and get down to it. Which brand is the classiest watchmaker? Let’s find out.
The Big Crown is Oris’s signature watch design. It was first introduced in the 1930s as a pilot’s watch, and the “Big Crown” moniker comes from the oversized crown that’s able to be manipulated while wearing traditional leather pilot’s gloves.
We picked this Big Crown ProPilot because the day/date window provides a more modern appeal. The traditional pointer date variation features a separate hand to show the date and certainly comes with a cool vintage look, but this model here is so sleek and sharp that we thought it would best represent the category.
The pure and simple gentlemanly class of the Clifton is hard to beat. Simple, no-frills design combined with immaculate craftsmanship give it an air of professionalism and seriousness.
We think this model is the purest form of the Clifton, and it does the best job of showing off the Baume & Mercier style.
Dial - The slightly reflective slate grey dial of the Oris Big Crown is simple, but effective in making an impression. The fact that it has both a day and date window adds functionality.
The Clifton, on the other hand, makes up for its lack of a day display with a beautifully minimal pattern that effectively quarters the pure white dial. The hour markers stretch from the bezel as if they’re reaching towards the center, and overall it’s a very effective design.
We’re giving this one to the Clifton.
Usability - Both of these watches are very classic in their designs. Neither really features a lot of bells and whistles, which is exactly how we want our dress watches.
The Oris Big Crown wins in terms of usability simply because its big crown is easier to use.
Classiness - This is where it gets really tough. Both watches are incredibly refined and feature unbeatable build quality. The dials are elegant, the cases are gleaming and polished, and the straps are leather and very, very classy.
However, in the end we have to give the win to the Baume & Mercier Clifton. Why? Well, the Clifton’s alligator leather strap is shiny, and the Big Crown’s calfskin leather strap is more of a matte color. What can we say, we like shiny things.
Winner - The Baume & Mercier Clifton
Or, if you think we made the wrong choice, get your Oris Big Crown ProPilot Day Date here and save 43%.
The Oris Aquis is a dive watch that’s as cool looking as it is functional. With an impressive 300m water resistance, beautiful dials across the line, and a very sturdy build quality, you’d be hard pressed to find a more complete dive watch anywhere.
If you’re a longtime reader, you know how much we love chronographs. Part of that love is because we like pressing buttons, part of it is we like having a watch that can do a lot of things.
The Baume & Mercier Capeland Chronograph checks off both of those boxes and then some. Packed with features while still retaining an elegant design, this is a watch that really gets us moving.
Dial - The Oris Aquis has a relatively simple dial, being made more for readability than for a complex aesthetic. The hands and markers are large and lined with luminous inlays so they’ll shine through even in the depths of the ocean.
However, it’s that brilliant emerald green color that’s got our mouths agape. It’s so piercing and powerful, like sunlight glaring through a thick canopy of trees. Absolutely beautiful.
The Baume & Mercier Capeland’s dial, on the other hand, is packed to the brim with all sorts of stuff. There are three sub dials, a date window, the standard hour, minute, and second hands, a telemeter AND a tachymeter. To be honest, it can take a while to find the information you’re actually looking for (hint: it’s probably not on the telemeter or tachymeter).
All that being said, it’s mighty impressive at a glance, and even more impressive when you take the time to study it.
In the end, though, we have to give this one to the Oris Aquis. That green is just too beautiful to pass up.
Functionality - The Aquis is simply designed to serve the particular purpose of telling time. The bezel is of the unidirectional rotating variety, so it is possible to use for some basic stopwatch-type things. But that’s about it. Don’t get us wrong, the wonderful water resistance makes this watch able to do those things under some extreme conditions.
The Capeland, on the other hand, is ALL function. It can do pretty much everything you’d ever want your watch to do, if not necessarily while deep sea diving.
Functionality goes to the Capeland.
Class - The Baume & Mercier Capeland is classy and powerful. It makes a statement to anybody who sees it on your wrist. It says “I am a complex person with a lot of things to be doing, and my attention is valuable.” It can be worn in almost any situation, whether you’re timing a race or you’re just going to lunch.
But we just can’t get over that stunning dial on the Oris Aquis. It’s shocking, but tasteful. We know we’ve already said it so many times, but it’s just beautiful.
The Aquis wins.
Winner - The Oris Aquis Aquispro Date Calibre 400 Green Dial
If you prefer the Baume & Mercier entry, save 60% when you buy your Capeland Chronograph from us today.
The open-hearted design on this watch is enough to capture the hearts and minds of all who look at it. Coupled with the classy silhouette of the Oris Artelier line, you have yourself what just might be the perfect women’s luxury watch.
This Classima is a women’s watch that looks like a cool breeze on a summer night. The blue on pearl color scheme is both refreshingly beautiful and light on the eyes. But is it classy enough to beat out the competition? That remains to be seen.
Dial - The Oris Artelier Skeleton’s dial is truly a thing to behold. The open design lets the wearer see into the secrets of the watch and observe the incredible inner workings of the powerful Oris Caliber 560 engine. The rose gold tone hands hover ever so slightly above that opening, starkly contrasted and easy to read. The outer perimeter is meticulously textured, making the diamond hour markers pop and glitter.
The Baume & Mercier Classima handles its diamond markers a little differently. They almost blend in with the soft white cloud-like mother of pearl backdrop. The mother of pearl itself adds an interesting and beautiful sense of motion to the dial, while the starry sky in the sub dial beautifully displays the moon phases as it rotates.
Ultimately, we have to give the win to the Artelier because the skeleton design is just too breathtaking.
Functionality - In the end, both of these watches are about level in functionality. The Baume & Mercier Classima does have a moon phase sub dial, which ultimately edges out the beautiful, but moon-phase-less, Oris Artelier.
This one goes to the Classima.
Class - This is probably the toughest decision out of the whole lot. Both of these watches are maximum classiness.
The Oris Artelier is going to draw “oohs” and “ahhs” from any crowd out there. If you wore it at a fashion show, there would be cameras getting closeups of it all night long. The rose gold tone hands are luxurious, and the mechanical display is mind boggling.
But then there are the jeweled skies of the Baume & Mercier Classima. It almost looks like a painting from a song, beautiful and elegant, soft, delicate as a daydream.
In the end, we have to give the win to the Classima. Of course, if you ask us again in a week that might change. It’s just very close.
Winner - The Baume & Mercier Classima Mother of Pearl Diamond Dial