Oris began its partnership with the Williams Formula 1 racing team in 2003 and has released several Williams-branded timepieces in the years since. The latest, introduced at Baselworld 2016, is perhaps the purest expression of the collaboration between Swiss watch brand and motorsports icon. The Oris Williams Chronograph Carbon Fibre Extreme features a carbon fiber case made from a patented process that Oris developed using technical know-how provided by the Williams team.
In modern Formula 1 racing, carbon fiber polymers are the go-to material for parts requiring a high strength-to-weight ratio, such as a racing car’s monocoque or its steering wheel. Oris uses this material, which is five times lighter than (and twice as stable as) stainless steel, for the case middle of the Williams Chronograph Carbon Fibre Extreme, pairing it with a bezel, crown, chronograph pushers and screw-down caseback made of black-DLC-coated titanium, a metal also prized for its robustness and lightness. The brand has patented the manufacturing process through which it obtains this special breed of carbon fiber, a technique that achieves the material’s high level of rigidity and water-resistance without adding extra metal reinforcements or “containers,” as is the case with most carbon fiber watch cases, and also eliminates the need for expensive, labor-intensive post-production processing after the carbon fiber has already been molded and hardened.
To make this high-performance carbon-fiber composite, sheets of woven carbon fiber-reinforced polymer are layered manually in individual molds in two steps and then hardened twice under 50 meters of pressure at 130°C in special ovens. The use of fiber “waves” rather than the usual “shreds” ensures that the finished material is solid, with no hollow spaces, and the process yields a completed case middle shape onto which the titanium caseback and sapphire crystal can be directly mounted — no need for further machining, special gaskets, or “containers.” The only steps left afterward are shaving off redundant material and milling the holes for the crown, pushers, and bracelet. Each of these case middles — which weigh only 7.2 grams — is individually made by hand.
The Oris Williams Chronograph Carbon Fibre Extreme contains Oris Caliber 674, a modified ETA 7750 chronograph movement enhanced with the brand’s signature red winding rotor, which is on display through the mineral crystal caseback. The 44-mm multi-part case is water-resistant to 100 meters; the black dial has applied white numerals, while the black hour and minute hands are coated with white Super-LumiNova. The chronograph hands (including the center-mounted, white-tipped seconds counter and the hands on the speedometer-inspired hours and minute chronograph subdials) are in “Williams blue.” The date appears in a window at 6 o’clock and a racing-style tachymeter scale adorns the bezel. The watch comes on a black rubber strap with a DLC-coated titanium folding clasp and is priced at $4,500.