ORIS Force Recon GMT
Oris Force Recon GMT Review
Review Of The ORIS Force Recon GMT
Jacques de Vos is qualified as a Commercial Diver, Recreational SCUBA Instructor and Freediving Instructor Trainer and works as a full time Professional Underwater Photographer & Cameraman.
Reviews for dive watches are carried out in my capacity as a diver where every dive watch is worn on a daily basis for a minimum of 10 days and put through its paces on actual dives under realistic and sometimes extreme conditions.
Watching an orca move underwater through the frigid cold northern Norwegian Sea less than 2 meters away from me, the striking features of this animal perfectly captures the essence of the timepiece on my arm – black, stealth, perfect design and the ability to adapt to its environment. The Oris Force Recon GMT embodies all these traits, so it was only fitting that it be the dive watch to accompany me during a two week expedition to film and study the magnificent orca pods in northern Norway.
Oris has been making mechanical watches in the village of Hölstein in the North-west of Switzerland since 1904. It is also one of the few watch companies which remain independent and privately owned and their range of timepieces are highly regarded for its quality and attention to detail. Through their timepieces and various programs and partnerships, the brand also has a strong standing in the world of Formula 1 racing, diving and aviation and their collection is divided into four main categories, namely; culture, diving, aviation and motorsport. Browsing their wesbite, its easy to see why the brand has established itself in the watch world.
Oris produces only mechanical movements and at the heart of each Oris timepiece, whether visible through a closed case or not, you will find the red rotor which is a patented symbol of Oris High-Mech. This rotor is the innovation that enabled the progression from hand winding to automatic movements.
ORIS Force Recon GMT
True to the Oris motto ‘Real Watches For Real People’, the Oris Force Recon GMT was developed in close partnership with the U.S Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance and was designed to meet Force Recon’s demanding equipment standards.
Oris has in fact worked with elite military units in the past, producing a high-spec, all terrain watch based on the Pro-Diver for Italy’s 9th Parachute Assault Regiment (also known as the Col Moschin Special Forces) in 2010 which is also available commercially as a limited edition piece .
United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance
The United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance, also known as Force Recon or FORECON perform both deep reconnaissance and direct action (DA) operations throughout the world.
FORECON is responsible for operating independently behind enemy lines performing unconventional special operations, in support of conventional warfare. The unit’s various methods of airborne, heliborne, submarine and waterborne insertions and extractions are similar to those of the US Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces, 75th Ranger Regiment and Air Force Combat Controllers, although Force Recon’s missions and tasks do differ slightly with a focus on primarily supporting Marine expeditionary and amphibious operations.
Two different mission types emerged during the Vietnam War, which are still implemented in the Force Reconnaissance motives today: Key Hole and Sting Ray. These practices subsequently became contemporary as “deep reconnaissance” (or green operations) and “direct action” (black operations) where operators basically “look for trouble.”
Key Hole patrols were designed purely around reconnaissance and surveillance; usually lightly equipped and armed with defensive weapons and evasive techniques were employed to break contact from the enemy should the need arise, avoiding contact with the enemy was paramount. Sting Ray operations were the exact opposite of Key Hole missions with goals more closely in line of offensive strikes, the FORECON operators were heavily armed and used artillery and/or naval gunfire support, if available.
However, what began as a ‘key hole’ patrol could become a ‘sting ray’ patrol with little warning. The versatility of FORECON is demonstrated when missions quickly turn, planned or not, from a deep reconnaissance patrol to a direct action engagement.
The Oris Force Recon GMT arrives in an army green, small double latch, waterproof presentation case similar to those previously seen in the Oris Pro Diver Range. A very nice addition to the case is also a disc stamped with the Force Recon emblem. Inside you will find the actual watch along with a beautiful 22 page booklet with great images outlining the history of Force Recon and the development of the watch.
The watch itself comes mounted with a black NATO fabric strap (as requested by Force Recon) and Oris have also included a black rubber strap with the Oris emblem which features Oris’s quick adjustment- sliding sledge folding clasp which allows the wearer to adjust the strap without needing to remove the watch. In order to switch between straps, the case also contains strap replacement tools in the form of screws, a screwdriver and a bit holder – a circular steel ‘weight’ to which one attaches the included bits as the watch pins need to be tighten/loosened from both ends.
Finally there is also a ‘tactical watch cover’ which is a neoprene mask with a retractable section (pulled sideways to expose the face of the watch) that wraps around the watch. Given its size, it seems to be suitable for use over a wetsuit as it is quite loose fitting on the wrist.
A quick overview of the listed features of the Oris Force Recon GMT:
– Oris 747 (28 Jewel), base SW 220-1 bi-directional Automatic Movement with second time zone and date display
– Multi-piece titanium case, DLC matt black coating, ceramic minutes scale top ring
– Engraved wave pattern on black dial
– Case Size: 49mm
– Screwed down crown with Oris logo
– Double Domed Sapphire Crystal with anti-reflective coating (inside).
– Rotation Safety System, 120 clicks unidirectional ceramic bezel with BGW9 lume applied to indexes
– Power Reserve: 38 Hours
– Water Resistance: 1000 meters
– Black rubber strap, plated titanium folding clasp black with extension
– Additional NATO bracelet with separate lug attachments.
– Hands coated with Super-Luminova BG W9 and C5
– Titanium Screwed Case Back with laser engraved USMC Force Recon logo.
– Recommended Retail Price: 4200 USD (3880 EUR)
In terms of a first hands on impression, I was genuinely excited by the presentation of the actual watch and the additional background information provided in the accompanying booklet really put the significance of this watch into perspective making it even more impressive once you lift it from its case.
Quick First Overview
Lifting the watch for the first time, you immediately become aware of its Titanium construction as it is remarkably light for its size which is 49mm across and sits at a height of 15mm. Having a smaller overall profile than its bigger cousin, the Oris ProDiver Chronograph, the Force Recon GMT does not feel overly big and sits quite comfortably on even an average sized wrist. The case is a beautiful matte black due to the tough DLC matt black coating which is designed to absorb light, a feature required to limited light reflection for FORCE RECON operators who have ‘gone dark’.
The crown is located at the 3 o’clock position and a subtle helium release valve sits on the opposite side at 9 o’clock.
The screw down case back is another ‘small’ work of art as it features a very highly detailed laser engraved USMC Force Recon logo. So detailed in fact, that the USMS motto ‘semper fidelis’, or ‘always faithful’, although barely legible with the naked eye, is clearly cut and can actually be read under magnification.
The bezel on the Oris Force Recon GMT features the Oris developed Rotation Safety System (RSS) to prevent accidental adjustment during a dive. This consists of a soft feel rubber top ring which can be turned independently of the ceramic timer scale inside. When the rubber top ring is in the start or locked position, the ceramic timer scale will not turn when the rubber ring is turned. To release the timer scale, simply lift the rubber top ring and now turning the top ring also turns the ceramic timer scale. When the timer scale has been set, push down the rubber ring and the timer scale is once again locked down. This is a very practical feature for those who do use dive watch bezels for timing, either underwater or on land as the possibility of bumping the bezel and shifting it can lead to annoying errors in timing.
The 5mm (9mm diameter) Oris Force Recon GMT crown is easily gripped and turned, requiring 3 and ¼ turns to move it from the locked to zero position. At zero position you can manually wind the watch by turning the crown clock wise, without hacking the movement (stopping it from running). Pulling it one ‘click’ out to the one position allows you to change the date by turning the crown clock wise and at the same position adjusts the GMT hand by turning it anti-clockwise. Here the movement is still not hacked which means making time adjustments while traveling can be done without affecting the overall timekeeping. Position two allows you to hack (by stopping the balance wheel of the escapement) the movement for synchronizing and then adjusting the minute hand, simultaneously adjusting local hours and the GMT hand.
The most striking feature of the watch is its high contrast black and white face and the beautiful black dial with engraved wave pattern – a detail seen in other ProDiver models and something I’ve always loved personally in dive watches, having earlier noticed it in watches like the discontinued 2535.80 Omega Seamaster Professional 300 Meter GMT.
In the Force Recon GMT there is however a beautiful break to the pattern in the form of a 24 hour scale (divided in 2 hours with a ‘dot’ break at the hour interval) around the dial which is the second time zone for the central hand of the GMT function. Each number and dot on this scale is a subtle Luminova green matching the GMT hour hand which is a clear Super-Luminova coated pointer.
Something you might notice immediately is the absence of a traditional second hand as this role has been replaced by the unique ‘small seconds’ at the 9 o’clock position. Under the dial is a disc printed with Super-Luminova lines at five second intervals and numerals at every ten seconds. The dial has three thin openings cut into it and one larger aperture displaying the numerals and the current second. Every five seconds the white lines align with the three smaller openings to create a ‘flash’ that shows the watch’s time keeping function is operational, another feature which has been designed to be functional for operatives who have gone dark during night time operations.
The Oris logo and AUTOMATIC designation is also recessed in a framed blank window just below 12 o’clock within the wave pattern of the dial creating another break along with a similarly framed GMT logo next to the date window at 3 o’clock. Finally there is the extremely detailed Force Recon emblem at 6 o’clock in a subtle gray colour and this along with the other three elements creates a very perfectly balanced look to the overall dial on what is a carefully calculated use of space without making it look too ‘busy’.
The lume on the Oris Force Recon GMT is by far some of the best I’ve seen in a watch. In real life tests where we had up to 19 hours of night in the north of Norway, the hands and markers were easily legible at all times even when the lume started running down later into the night.
As accuracy is always something of a vague matter with automatic watches, I try to be as upfront about my reviews in this area as possible. To put this into perspective, its important to understand that any automatic watch will gain or lose a few seconds over a period of time. This is due to small mechanical or electro-mechanical devices inside the watch that are counting out 86 400 seconds per day so even if a watch is 99.9% accurate, it will still be off by a minute and a half in only 24 hours. Therefore a wristwatch has to be well over 99.9% accurate to even begin to be useful on an on-going basis.
I wore the Oris Force Recon GMT as my daily watch and while still new, set the time using time.is which is synchronized with an atomic clock known to be the most accurate time source in the world. The displayed time on this website will normally have a precision of 0.02-0.10 seconds.
The watch was on my arm for between 16 and 18 hours a day while being active (diving, running around, performing general duties on-board a boat) and at night the watch was allowed to be stationary (no winders during testing) in a face down position.
On day 7 I checked the time and it had gained roughly 8.5 seconds a day which falls within the ‘Reasonable Accuracy Expectations’ for a non-certified modern mechanical watch. This being said, I have noticed with my own Oris Aquis date, that this time ‘settles’ after a few months to around 7 seconds after some use and although the movements differ, I expect the Force Recon will do the same.
70 Degrees North – Underwater: Real World Testing Of The Force Recon GMT
The testing grounds for this review ended up being as extreme as any watch can handle without being taken to crippling depths, which coincidentally the Oris Force Recon GMT as a member of the ProDiver series, handles impeccably with its 1000m depth rating. To put it into perspective, we were well within the Arctic Circle and further north than Iceland , most of Alaska and most of habitable Russia.
As part of a predominantly Swiss research expedition with a team consisting among others of the founder of First Element and his fellow adventurer / the founder of Swiss Advance, we were there to study the orca of Northen Norway and it was my job to get in the water with these magnificent animals to get footage of them in their natural environment.
The Oris Force Recon GMT was fitted with the NATO strap during the whole expedition and as previously stated was set on day one and used as my main watch during all daily activated.
The Oris Force Recon GMT is an extremely comfortable watch to wear, which might come as a surprise given its slightly larger than average profile. Having worn it under jackets, over wetsuits and at times under gloves, I was very rarely aware of its presence in a ‘its stuck on my sleeve’ kind of way.
As I was frequently in and out of the water, I chose to use the NATO style strap during the expedition and it proved to be a viable and durable ‘extra’ for frequent salt water use. Initially my only slight issue with this strap was that when the buckle was not closed, the nylon strap itself came undone from its two anchor points within the buckle quite easily as it is two opposing studs 10mm apart which push through the holes of the strap. Although this would not happen once the buckle was closed (when it matters most!), it did make me feel a bit uncomfortable when putting on, or removing the watch, but once again, after some use I quickly learned how to avoid this. The metal parts on both of the included straps are also coated with the same matt black DLC coating giving it a very stealthy looking and durable finish.
Due to the striking Luminova hands on the contrasting matt black dial of the Oris Force Recon GMT, the watch is extremely legible under all conditions. Both in and out of the water during day light, the watch was extremely easy to read with a quick glance and at night the lume provided ample light to see the time with a quick glance (more on this shortly).
The only point here worth mentioning is that it took some time for me to get used to the location of the second indicator as my eyes always did a quick scan from centre to left, but after two days I had already adjusted to this new placement. The second indicator although extremely easy to follow, is quite small and I would probably not rate it at the same legibility as a standard ‘traditional’ second hand. That being said, its not at all an issue and I wouldn’t change anything about the placement of hands or indicators on this watch.
A typical day of diving on this expedition meant sailing during the dark morning hours while first finding and then tracking pods of orca and monitoring their behaviour to ascertain if diving with them would be possible as it was paramount to avoid placing any stress on the animals. During this time (and later in the day when it got dark again) we had to ‘black out’ the entire cabin in order to maintain good night vision to be able to spot the orca in the pitch black water. It goes without saying that the Super-Luminova excelled here as it was always easy to keep an eye on the time without having to switch on any blinding lights.
As soon as daylight broke, we were suited up and diving operations commenced. Wearing the watch over a 7mm suits was no problem and as I was freediving, I quite often found myself in the water for between 3 and 4 hours at a time, towards the end often in falling snow. As the day time during winter is extremely short so far north, I often set my bezel to indicate the hour in which the sun would go down, giving a very clear ‘window of opportunity’.
With frequent jumps from boats and handling of large camera equipment, weight belts etc, the inevitable bumps did occur and at the end of two weeks of solid diving and boat related activities, the Oris Force Recon GMT still looked brand new thanks to the scratch resistant Sapphire Crystal and durable DLC coating.
It goes without saying is that this is a seriously good looking dive watch and it generates the interest it deserves. Even the very first images of the watch which surfaced during Baselworld 2015 showed it looking as fitting and classy worn with a white shirt and suit as it does over a thick layer of neoprene. At the same time it is built to be used and for this reason, for the first time ever with a watch in this price range, I never once felt like I had to be overly protective when going about my work in and out of the water.
I’m sure that the Oris Force Recon GMT is at the top of many guys Christmas wish list! At 4200 USD it will probably not end up on the arms of many servicemen looking to purchase a rugged timepiece. That being said, the Oris Force Recon GMT is significantly more affordable than comparable dive watches (considering functionality and quality) by other reputable watch companies. Given its great looks, extreme durability and exceptional quality, you can be sure that this is a watch that will last you a lifetime while never losing its appeal.
After all, as any diver, gentleman or Spec Op operator will tell you… you can’t go wrong with black.
For updates on the upcoming video of this expedition be sure to follow Jacques de Vos – Underwater Photography & Media on Facebook for the latest news and updates.
Also please take a moment to have a look at the important research and conservation work groups like OceanSounds are doing with whales and dolphins throughout the world which anyone can support or get involved in.