With their new Carl Brashear Limited Edition dive watch, Oris pays tribute to the U.S Navy’s first African-American Master Diver, the thoroughly impressive Carl Brashear. With a classic and clean diver aesthetic rendered in bronze, this limited edition piece expands upon the success of the Oris Divers Sixty Five, which was announced at Basel last march. There is no shortage of tribute and themed limited edition watches out there, but it’s especially refreshing to see the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition watch in honor of an amazing man who might not be quite a household name.
In the event that Carl Brashear’s name doesn’t sound familiar, you might remember the silver screen adaptation of his story, “Men of Honor,” in which Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Carl Brashear. Brashear’s moto, “It’s not a sin to get knocked down, it’s a sin to stay down” (which is inscribed on the back of the watch) informed his actions as he managed not only the hardships of Navy salvage diving, but also racism and an accident that would leave him permanently disabled. During his 31-year Navy career, Brashear was the first African-American to graduate the Navy’s diving program. While recovering a lost atom bomb in 1966, an accident would claim his left leg below the knee, an injury that appeared to spell the end of his diving career.
Living up to his motto, Brashear wouldn’t stay down, and he embarked on a long and difficult rehabilitation, becoming the Navy’s first amputee diver in 1968 and, in 1970, the Navy’s first African-American Master Diver. Undoubtedly one of the hardest guys to ever sport a Mark V diving suit, Carl Brashear was a pioneer in any sense of the word.
A first for Oris, this limited edition diver is rendered in bronze to match the diving helmet worn in Brashear’s time. While the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition shares a case and bezel shape with the Sixty Five watch, the case size has been bumped up from 40mm to 42mm. Bronze, due to its high copper content, ages rapidly and will form a lovely patina as the metal reacts to moisture and carbon dioxide (seen above, left). Bronze watches have been increasing in popularity over the past few years, with many enthusiasts experimenting with methods of accelerating and controlling the patina process to yield specific results.
The warm and, at least initially, bright tones of the bronze case are matched by an inky dark blue dial with applied rose gold plated markers and hands. The combination, especially with the subtle magnification provided by the bubble-curved sapphire crystal, is wonderful. The charm is romantic but functional, and the proportions look to be perfect, aided by a long minute hand and symmetrical date position at six. While I prefer a watch without a date display, the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition handles the function nicely, not unlike Oris’ Divers Sixty Five.
Also like the Sixty Five, the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition is powered by Oris’ calibre 733, which is based on the Sellita SW200. With 38 hours of power reserve, 26 jewels, and a 4Hz heartbeat, the SW200 offers reliable time keeping and simple servicing from a Swiss manufacturer.