No matter what everyone likes a rebel, a person or entity that fights the status quo. In the watch world that entity is Oris. Oris is interesting as luxury watches go, and can be at times tricky to nail down. They are often confused for a newer brand but that is very far from the case. In 1904 Paul Cattin and Georges Christian entered into a deal with the local mayor of Hölstein to purchase a closed watch factory and thus Oris was born named after a nearby brook. If the owners at the time could look and see where their beloved brand is at and what it has overcome they would be shook. Many of Oris’ Key collections like the Big Dial, Full Steel and Artlier owe their existence to this exact moment in history. Places like Lancaster, York, and Reading PA may be oceans away from Hölstein, but the origins of this amazing brand are just as accessible to us thanks to Paul and Georges and the path that they forged in June of 1904.
A period of explosive growth was soon at hand for the growing brand. They quickly built new production plants and by the end of the 1960’s they were the 10th largest watch manufacturer in the world. In this period of time there were many achievements but also several hurdles that were overcome through dedication and perseverance. This also led to a changing of the guard of the leadership that saw Oris through its most vital crisis that has led to Oris being recognized as the brand they are today.
Like a looming shadow the Quartz Crisis of the 1970’s-1980’s nearly delivered the deathblow to Oris. During this time Oris was owned by the Swatch Group who had decided they were going to gut the company and basically sell it for scrap. Dr Rolf Portmann and Ulrich W. Herzog navigated this near disaster and negotiated a complete buyback of the company. Oris was now free to do as it pleased and its first decision was considered absolute madness. They decided they would only make mechanical watches, at this time that was complete madness. Quartz was considered more accurate and it was absolutely cheaper but Oris held to its principle and it has paid off hugely for them.
The Oris we have now is a company honed by fierce independence. Today the goal for any watch company is to become part of a group and that works well for many of them, but Oris knows its strength lies in its freedom. They believe in and encourage their customers to “Go your own way”. They are also very focused on protecting the natural world and have adopted many stances in production that in many ways are the opposite of many luxury brands. The global conservation moments they are involved in are varied but some of the largest ones involve restoring the Great Barrier Reef and the “Billion Oyster Project” which is focused on returning the native Oyster population of New York to the way it was hundreds of years ago by 2035.
Oris has and will always be synonyms with certain lifestyles like aviation and motorsports and the current collections they offer still reflect that heritage. One such Collection is the “Big Crown” so named because of its overly large crown. This watch has been on the wrists of pilots since the golden age of aviation innovation and progress, and this heritage pairs perfectly with Oris’ dedication to the environment. Just this year they created a watch that was a limited run by the name of Coulson, this was in partnership with Coulson Aviation who is the leading aviation company that fights forest fires by plane.
Another of their key collections, the Auqis, is the result of several decades of design and has seen many upgrades and redesings. Whenever Oris is making a special edition piece that is focused on oceanic conservation the Aquis is the collection they use. When they were pushing focus for the “Billion Oyster Project” they designed a special Aquis called The New York Harbor. The piece was designed to draw attention to the project and was almost immediately sold out.
It is understandably difficult to put a brand like Oris in one box. They are worn by people of all walks of life and they are involved and passionate about so many things. If you are able to go to “Watches and Wonders” you will immediately see what sets Oris apart from other Swiss luxury brands. Instead of a closed off alcove like most all of the other brands Oris instead has created an Agora, a marketplace of ideas. That’s what really sets them apart, they value their freedom so dearly and in doing so they inspire and encourage everyone to do so as well. If you would like to learn more or see these amazing pieces in person please feel free to visit Laura Z Tai Fine Jewelry and Watches in Lancaster PA.