Annual calendar. Co-axial escapement. 60 hour power reserve. 100 meters water resistance. Sapphire crystal, case back, and case flanks. With all the aforementioned features and a secondary market price of around $5500, the Omega De Ville Hour Vision Annual Calendar has a ton of character and function for the money. While a number of variants are available, the reference 418.104.22.168.03.001 that I’m reviewing today is my personal favorite, with a steel case and striking blue dial. Read on for more information, high resolution photos and specs.
This watch sports sapphire case flanks in addition to a sapphire crystal and case back, both of which are quite common. That’s right – case flanks. Sapphire inserts on all four sides of the case provide viewports to the Caliber 8601 from both the sides and the back – hence the name “Hour Vision”. First introduced with a date-only complication back in 2007, the De Ville Hour Vision line is a bit of a trend-setter for sapphire-cased watches, preceding the likes of the Richard Mille RM 056 (introduced at SIHH 2012) and the Zenith Type 20 Grand Feu (introduced at Baselworld 2014).
The Hour Vision Annual Calendar is both practical and versatile. The annual calendar complication coupled with bidirectional automatic winding eliminate the need for manual winding and setting given that you wear the watch with some regularity. With a 60 hour power reserve, it’s a watch you can set down on Friday evening and still have running when you pick it up on Monday morning. The case, measured at 41 mm wide (excluding crown), 14.5 mm thick, 49.5 mm lug-to-lug and a lug width of 20 mm, is well-sized to fit a variety of wrists, facilitated by the generous curvature of the lugs. As you can see below, the watch wears well even on a wrist as small as mine – 6.5″ or 16.5 cm in circumference.
As I briefly mentioned before, this watch uses the Omega Caliber 8601, based on the Caliber 8500 with silicon amagnetic hairspring. Though technically not in-house, the movement is made by ETA exclusively for Omega and has not been featured in any other Swatch group brand. Once a month, you can appreciate the simultaneous and instantaneous switching of both the month and date at 12 o’clock, an impressive feat of engineering. The movement is also chronometer certified, and service papers from Omega for my example indicated that it is accurate to within just 1 second per day.
Of course, we also have to talk about the dial. Undoubtedly the watch’s most outstanding feature only after the sapphire case flanks, the blue dial on the Hour Vision has to be described as striking. Sunburst blue under bright light, but a rich and deep navy – almost black – in dimmer conditions, the dial is really what tipped the scales for me to pull the trigger on this watch. It also offers some texture and complexity with a slightly raised ring of four concentric circles spawning from the month and date window. The dark blue color also contrasts well with the 18k white gold hands and applied hour markers, making readability a non-issue. Especially when coupled with the matching strap, this is by far my favorite Hour Vision model.
I was also very impressed by the deployant clasp, which was just as well finished as the case and incredibly high quality. The lack of micro-adjustment was an issue, but I didn’t feel like Omega was cheaping out on the strap + clasp combination compared to the bracelet option. Although I have not handled very many watches at this price point, I definitely felt that this deployant clasp was better than any of the other ones I have tried (primarily from JLC), and noteworthy enough to point out in this review.
As close as it might be though, this watch does have some minor imperfections. The case is a bit thick especially for a dressier piece, although this is something that I can easily forgive given the price point and the complexity of the annual calendar complication. However, speaking of “Annual Calendar”, the placement of those two words on the dial is more difficult for me to overlook. I feel that it clutters the dial and interrupts the texture of the concentric circles. Personally, I would either place the words with the other writing, or even better, just get rid of them entirely. While an annual calendar is certainly worthy of note, I don’t feel that Omega needs to advertise this on the dial, especially when the words are also engraved on the edge of the case back.
All in all though, the pros easily outweigh the cons. This is an elegant watch that is also practical for everyday use. Although it retails for $10,600, it’s a great value for less than half of that on the secondary market. If you’re looking for a piece with some unique design characteristics and high complication, the Omega De Ville Hour Vision Annual Calendar should be on your shortlist.