"It's not a sin to get knocked down. It's a sin to stay down."
Such are the words immortalized by U.S. Navy Diver Carl Brashear, now etched into the minds of watch collectors, thanks to the runaway success of Oris' Carl Brashear Bronze Diver two years ago. Oris is revisiting the success of that sold-out 2016 limited edition with a new commemorative edition: the Carl Brashear Bronze Chronograph, which replicates the winning beautiful bronze-on-blue formula, but in a classic twin-register chronograph.
2016's runaway smash hit for Oris: the now long sold-out original Carl Brashear Bronze Diver
That winning formula paved the way for the highlight of my Baselworld attendance in 2016, as I got the chance to meet and interview Philip Brashear, the son of the man after whom the watch is named. A quick historical refresher on Carl Brashear, he was essentially the "Jackie Robinson of the US Navy," breaking significant color barriers around the middle of the century in many of the same ways as the famed professional ballplayer. Not only was Brashear the first African American to enroll in and graduate from the U.S. Navy Diving & Salvage School in 1954, his military career would be punctuated with many incredible accomplishments, including becoming the U.S. Navy's first amputee diver after losing the lower part of his left leg after a hydrogen bomb salvage mission went wrong. He would later become the first African American certified as a Master Diver, amongst many other naval and civilian commendations. His son Philip is also incredibly accomplished in his own right and is a CH-47 Chinook helicopter pilot. Listening to Philip talk about the many ways his father overcame adversity was, and continues to be incredibly inspiring.
Oris is sure to duplicate the success of the original Brashear Bronze Diver, by expanding on the design in the form of a chronograph in a slightly upsized 43mm case. While we have yet to handle one in person, chronograph fans should be pleased to note that it appears to still maintain the thin silhouette - a hallmark of the Diver 65 series. What that series hasn't yet seen though, is a chronograph, which is why we suspect we're now looking at an early preview of what else Oris has in store for the collection, as many of the same design codes from the immensely popular Diver 65 collection persist here, including the rotating 60-minute bronze bezel, applied bronze-colored indices and the long stick handset. Vintage-inspired pump pushers, the two timing registers, and a needle-thin chronograph hand are the new flourishes that round out this wonderfully classic dive watch chronograph package.
Inside, Oris has deployed the cal. 771 (a Sellita SW-510 base) - a newly designated chronograph movement for the brand, which skips the date aperture and keeps things simple with a 30-minute counter, and a running seconds hand at 9:00. This is the second time Oris has omitted the date with the Diver 65 series - the first was our very own Divers 65 Topper Edition from 2016. As before, the Carl Brashear Chronograph is water resistant to 100 meters, and ships in a beautiful wooden box with a commemorative coin. Of course the watch is cast in bronze, though it does have a stainless steel caseback, upon which Brashear's now iconic motto is etched: "It's not a sin to get knocked down. It's a sin to stay down."
The Oris Carl Brashear Bronze on the wrist of our friend @watchmax, generating a warm, cheerful patina
And now that we've had a full two years to see them in the wild, we've seen some beautifully patinated bronze on the wrist of friends and colleagues - like this well-worn example on the wrist of our friend Max (follow him on Instagram: @watchmax). Naturally, the Bronze Chronograph will also develop the same rich character, which will vary entirely on the habits and lifestyles of its wearer.
This Brashear Diver belonging to another friend of Topper has lived a different life, as reflected in the darker hues
As was its predecessor, the Carl Brashear Bronze Chronograph is limited to 2000 pieces, and if the disappearance of the 3-handed version was any indication, these are again bound to move quick. If you are interested in learning more or would like to reserve one for yourself, we'd welcome you to inquire by calling Topper Jewelers at 888-730-2221 or emailing [email protected]. The retail price of this watch is $4,950.