Oris is one of these rare watch brands that seem to be genuinely liked by almost everyone in the watch community. I have yet to meet a fellow watch lover and discuss Oris and not hear pretty much only positive comments. How have the brand from Hölstein acquired such rave positive reviews and accolades? What are they doing right?
Well as a owner of three of their watches, I have my opinions. However, before I summarize what I think makes Oris special, let’s take a closer look at some of the novelties for 2019 that caught my attention and that help reinforce my views on the brand and on their watches.
Big Crown Pointer Date
One watch has had a lasting impression on the Oris catalog over its 100+ years of history and it is the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date. It was originally conceived as a pilot watch with design cues (large crown, flutted bezel, and pointer date) to make is useful and wearable during the operation of airplanes. Such watch design was specially useful during the 1930s when the cabins were not pressurized (was very cold) and pilots had to dress heavily to fight the elements.
Today this watch is really a relic but one that has all the styling elements and emotions to help remind us of a glorious past and one where Oris played a small part. Three new watches in this collection were presented over the past year.
80th Anniversary Edition
First is a 40 mm all bronze anniversary edition with a gorgeous green dial. This is perhaps the watch most representative of this model and with the bronze case, of the era. As with all bronze watches it will develop a patina to make it unique to the owner. It comes with a dark brown strap to complete the vintage look. This model is not limited and comes with a price tag of CHF 1,900.
Second is the deep red dial model in stainless steel. This is perhaps the one with main stream appeal. Done in stainless steel and with a 40 mm case it includes this deep red dial that is closer to a darken cherry red. The rest of the dial marking are silver, matching the case, and the strap is a brown chamois deer leather that works well with the aesthetic of the vintage looking watch.
Finally, there is the blue dial Big Crown Pilot which is for the first time offered in a 36 mm case. It also includes some bronze highlights. The flutted bezel is in bronze along with matching colored indices and numerals and the hands. The overall look is quite attractive and as in the anniversary model will develop a unique patina with time. It is not limited and comes in at CHF 1,700.
The Oris Aquis line is the brand’s primary drive watch collection. It comprises smaller 36 mm models for ladies as well as a series for men ranging from 38 mm to 45 mm. The overall design is the same, a round case with crown protectors and (usually) ceramic bezel, encircling a dial with a common Roman numeral font. The hands for the Aquis have also stayed consistent while varying but always offering good Super-Luminova application.
Also, common across the range and one of my favorite parts of this line are the rubber strap options; typically in black but available in different colors. The Aquis straps are very comfortable, even for the larger models, and are easily adjustable with Oris’s deployant clasp which includes a micro-adjusting mechanism.
So what has Oris released this year in this line? Well a good set of updates that mainly adjust the color of the dials or create a new or continue an existing special collaboration.
New for 2019 is a GMT watch in the Oris Aquis collection. By adding an inner ring with 24 hours markers and a short hand pointing to the second timezone, Oris created a GMT watch out of its Aquis line. Additional change is the bezel which is now rotatable in both direction and includes 24 hours markers to allow the wearer to keep track of a third timezone.
The radial blue dial is maintained with this new Oris model as well as the blue rubber band that matches it. Included is also a brown leather strap that should make this watch perfect for all occasions: summer, winter, fall, and spring.
Date Green, Brown, and Mint
Adding more variations to an already successful line, Oris released a selection of Aquis divers with green, mint, and brown colored dials. Each include the line’s classic round case with crown protectors and and a date at 6 o’clock. The rotating bezel includes a matching ceramic bezel with minutes markers to help mark and control the time of immersion if you planned to use the watch for it’s intended purpose.
At 30 bar water resistance this is a watch that could easily accompany you to the deepest depth of any recreational dive. However, the shinning part of these watches are the beautiful radial colored dials. Especially the green dial with either stainless steel bracelet or black rubber and brown leather straps.
As part of its efforts to help conserve and repair the damage being caused to the world’s ocean and water supply, Oris partnered with expedition swimmer and Oris ambassador Ernst Bromeis to sponsor a series of activities intended to raise awareness of this global issue. The overarching intent is to help save our most precious commodity, something that we all need to survive on our blue planet: water.
The Aquis Date Relief is a variation of Oris’s famed diver watch with a grey slate dial and bezel with relief minutes markers. What works well with this watch are the hints of red on the seconds hand and the optional red rubber band you can mount it on. All variations go for under $2,000 and are not limited.
Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition III
Coming back for the third time is the Oris Great Barrier Reef limited edition III of 2000. This is a large Aquis watch (43.5 mm) with blue dial and a date ring in the middle of the dial and with a rotating yellow marker marking the date. But the cool part of this watch is what it stands for, helping revive and protect the largest reef system in the world.
Visible from outer space, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the largest concentrated mass of diverse life on the planet. Accounting for 2,900 reefs spanning 1,400 miles with 1000s of species of mollusk and aquatic plants and 1,500 species of fish, the reef is a keystone for the warming temperatures our planet is experiencing.
The science is clear. As the ocean warms, corrals bleach as they expel algae to deal with the new temperatures. Well, the Great Barrier Reef might become an ocean desert if global warming is not reversed or if we do not find ways to “plant” corrals or find ways to help them survive this drastic change.
Oris is working with scientist in Australia as well as in Florida’s Key Largo Marine Sanctuary to learn what can be done to help revive the corrals. The watch is meant as a representation of this commitment and partnership with the Reef Restoration Foundation, a non-profit social enterprise founded in 2016.
Clean Ocean Limited Edition
Perhaps my favorite model and cause from Oris’s many engaged timepieces for 2019 is the Oris Aquis Clean Ocean. Not only coming at a very wearable 39.5 mm with a beautiful blue dial that reminds us of what 3/4 of the the world’s surface is made of. The Oris Clean Ocean limited edition of 2000 pieces also has a specific purpose. And that is to raise funds and attention to the damage that plastic waste is doing to our oceans.
Every time we use plastic and discard it, we actually are creating waste that has a half-life of close to 800 to 1,000 years. This means that plastic created today, in order to disappear naturally, would have to have been discarded during the time of Jesus Christ.
The current situation of plastic in the ocean is abysmal. And without immediate action we might not have beaches to go to, nor fish to eat in the near future. An increasing number of caught seafood is found with plastic in their stomach. The consequences to fish life and for us are still being determined, but clearly it cannot be good.
Oris Clean Ocean initiative is one of many trying to clean the ocean of plastic waste. The watch not only reminds one of the ocean, as I mentioned, with its blue dial, but it also includes a brief reminder of that plastic being cleaned. On the back of the watch is a unique collage made from recovered ocean plastic. Oris is also working with Pacific Garbage Screening and other organizations to figure out innovative ways to collect that plastic and put it to new usage.
The last family of watches from Oris that had novelties this year, that I was able to see and handle, was the beloved Oris Diver SixtyFive. This is Oris’s original dive watches re-interpreted for modern tastes and new technology, while remaining true to the initial model released in 1965. For 2019 there are two main novelties.
The first model to mention from the SixtyFive collection is a two tone model or a watch with bi-metal configuration. Many brands offer some of their watches with gold and steel. And frequently the reception can be lukewarm since the common criticism of this approach is that buying such a watch can somehow imply that you could not afford the real deal, the all gold version.
However, regardless of what your opinion of bi-metal watches, Oris introducing a steel and bronze watch really takes a different and innovative approach here. The price for this model is set at CHF 2,200. The main reason why I think this might work is that as you know bronze will develop a patina. And having a watch that will be unique to you not only in it’s case evolution but also in the entire watch and bracelet should have a unique appeal.
It will be really cool to see how these steel and bronze watches evolve in a few months and as owners start posting photos on Instagram. My only concern is whether these watches with more surface area of bronze will also have increasing cases of irritation in customers with sensitive skin. In any case the months ahead for Oris aficionado will be a good one.
Green, Black, and Blue
The second set of SixtyFive watches are simple but also very well executed. Oris simply created the classic watch in different dial colors. The green model is my favorite. Since I own the RedBar limited edition, released last year, which includes a red dial, I was not surprise that Oris would create other dial colors. All models come in 42 mm case with bronze bezel insert (black and green models) and include a distress brown leather strap that complements the watch or a stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp. The price for each is set at just around CHF 2,000, with the black model with bronze going a bit over.
Thoughts on the 2019 Collection
Oris’s meetings at Baselworld is usually one of my favorite meetings over the years I have been attending the show. And this year was no different. While the novelties are many, they are concentrated around three families and have a consistent thought process behind them. With the Big Crown Pilot, Oris chose to continue the revival of this iconic model with some dial changes and also offering different sizes.
With their modern dive watch, the Aquis, Oris produced the most variations for 2019 but are easily understandable. There are two main traits weaving throughout. First, different color dials, much of these colors are pastel and soft. And second special limited editions for an ecological cause.
With the Great Barrier Reef III Oris is back at supporting one of the greatest ocean causes of our time, saving the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It’s a moon shot project but is so important since this large unique reef, like our planet, is sick and we need to save it.
With the Clean Ocean limited edition, Oris is again going their own way to help with another of the world’s ocean pressing problem: plastic! This is an issue that many different companies and organizations are trying to tackle, e.g., IWC. It’s a frighting sight when you see it yourself swimming in the ocean or visiting an offshore island or traveling by boat or via cruise ship.
The damage we are doing by using plastic is being felt in all corners of the world’s ocean. Working with Pacific Garbage Screening, Oris is not just trying to clean the ocean but find a way to harvest and recycle the common waste. The back of their Clean Ocean Aquis watch is a great example of that.
Finally, with the Diver’s SixtyFive Oris has found a family that allows them to re-explore their past with novel models that appeal to their current customers and allows them to maintain tradition. Unlike the Big Crown Pilot which looks like a re-issued older model, the SixtyFive could be passed for a contemporary model with an old soul. By using their easily aged bronze alloy, Oris is producing with their SixtyFive and the Carl Brashear limited editions, some of the most interesting retro dive watches on the market today.
I told you it’s hard not to like Oris. It’s not because they produce the finest timepieces in the world. They would never make such claims. I believe why I (and many others) like Oris is that they are the common man’s mechanical timepiece and they do it with humility, opinions, and sensitivity to common problems.
For me they are the prototype of what I want a luxury brand to be. Create high quality products, charge reasonable prices, and give back to causes that are important to us all. For these reasons it’s hard not to love Oris. oris.ch