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Oris Watches: What to know before you buy one

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When it comes to mechanical Swiss watches, Oris provides a considerable value-to-cost return. Oris watches are certainly not cheap — in either price or execution — but they cost significantly less than their competitors in the Swiss luxury mechanical watch market. Most Oris watches run between $1,000 to $3,000. Their most expensive pieces end where truly high-end Swiss pieces begin.

While serious watch aficionados have long loved Oris, the brand’s popularity has soared with their recent release of models with a more vintage look. These newer watches celebrate Oris’s rich history and resolute commitment to excellence in mechanical automation. The brand’s reputation is impeccable, and it is known to value both its clientele and its community, innovating in response to their needs.

The Oris History: A Century of Swiss Craftsmanship

Oris’s official timeline reveals a pattern: again and again, the company meets new challenges with spirit and ingenuity. The story begins in 1904 when Paul Cattin and Georges Christian founded Oris in Hölstein, naming their company after a local brook. From Hölstein, Oris expanded throughout Switzerland.

During the thirties and forties, Oris developed its first watches for the aviation industry, one of the realms to which it still caters today. However, when the Second World War hit, the company could only produce and sell a limited number of timepieces. In order to make it through these tough times, the company developed a line of alarm clocks with a landmark eight-day power reserve.

In the seventies and eighties, Oris’s survival was again in jeopardy. The Quartz Crisis threatened the Swiss watchmaking industry as Asian competitors began to produce quartz watches that used electronic oscillators to keep time. Quartz crystals regulated the oscillators, helping to create a signal with a precise frequency that kept more accurate time.

While Oris worked with quartz automation for a time, it decided to abandon it in the early 1990s,  redoubling its focus on the intricate engineering of mechanical watches. The slogan “high mech” was coined to advertise the sophistication and performance of Oris’s entirely mechanical catalogue. Accolade followed accolade as the company continually pushed the boundaries of mechanical automation.

Starting in the second half of the twentieth century, Oris began to partner with philanthropic foundations and barrier-crossing individuals on watches, campaigns, and community projects. Today, the company’s decision-makers and designers continue to draw inspiration from these high-level professionals — and the tools that they require.

The Oris Values: Intelligence, Innovation, and Community

Many of Oris’s values come in paradoxical pairs that somehow achieve harmony. For instance, the brand champions the “luxury of common sense.” It also prizes both independent industry and collective responsibility. Oris innovates, but it does so by using an older technology.

Thinking Forward

Oris has given birth to a great number of mechanical features and design elements. However, one of their greatest strokes of innovation may have been superficially regressive. Oris is one of a small number of Swiss watchmakers that exclusively focuses on mechanical automation.

While its watchworks are complex, the company never compromises functionality for pointless sophistication. According to the Oris credo, “things must make sense.” The brand stays on the cutting edge of its industry with intricate but practical designs.

Oris not only pushes its designs into the future — it also seeks to ensure our collective future, partnering with multiple philanthropic organizations to support environmental causes. Current initiatives include work with the following foundations:

  • Everwave
  • Korea Federation for Environmental Movements
  • Coral Restoration Foundation
  • Reef Restoration Foundation
  • Whale and Dolphin Conservation

Oris’s regular engagement with the diving community has deeply invested the company in the preservation of marine life and spaces. It remains committed to ocean health.

Thinking Together

Oris takes pride in its independence. The company responds to user concerns with the efficiency of a small, independent company and answers only to its own values. However, Oris also has a long history of collaboration, partnering with exceptional individuals on campaigns and limited edition timepieces.

Oris’s partners include nature photographers and extreme athletes among other notable personalities. It draws inspiration from the way these pioneers challenge traditional perspectives on the natural world.

Partnership with the Roberto Clemente Foundation

One representative example is the brand’s recent development of the Roberto Clemente watch — part of its Big Crown collection — in concert with the Roberto Clemente Foundation. The watch’s baseball-inspired look pays tribute to the hall-of-famer, a man known as much for his humanitarian work as his 3,000 hits in the Major League. Throughout the years, Oris has produced many other limited-edition timepieces to honor barrier-breaking athletes as well.

The Oris In-House Movements: Returning to the Fundamentals

All Oris watches are mechanical and meet the standards that go into the legally protected “Swiss-Made” designation. For most of its watches, Oris adapts high-quality Swiss movements using modular components while adding their own improvements.

However, in the past decade, Oris has developed more than one fully in-house movement built from the ground up. It designs these automatic movements independently and then produces them with the aid of Swiss specialists.

The Oris Calibre 110

Oris celebrated its 110th anniversary in 2014 with its first in-house movement in 35 years, a well-reviewed innovation. The movement’s major features include an impressive ten-day power reserve and a nonlinear power reserve indicator to show how much of the reserve is intact.

The Oris Calibre 110 provides the base architecture that goes into Calibres 111, 112, 113, 114, and 115. These models adapt the 110 to add different functions such as a second time zone or a business calendar.

The Oris Calibre 400

In late 2020, Oris debuted a second new movement designed to address many of the issues that often appear in watches over time. The watch has a still-impressive five-day reserve — as opposed to the 110’s ten-day reserve — and Oris has enough confidence in its longevity to offer a ten-year guarantee.

The 400 reduces wear and tear with a more stable rotor system and exceptionally high anti-magnetism. These new features have started to put pressure on Oris’s competitors.

Current Oris Collections

Oris positions each new collection or model in one of four “worlds”: Diving, Aviation, Motor Sport, and Culture.

Every watch features:

  • Sapphire crystals with anti-reflective coating
  • Easy-to-read hands and markers made of Super-LumiNova
  • A minimum 38-hour power reserve
  • The highest-quality mechanical automation
  • Options for customization

Beyond these core elements, designs range widely throughout Oris’s diverse offerings.

Diving Watches

Oris has plenty of fans in both the diving and the watch-loving communities — and for good reason. No matter the range, Oris watches are impressive pieces of machinery, and all of its diving watches feature:

  • Water resistance to at least 100m
  • Unidirectional rotating bezels that protect the diver from accidentally lengthening their dive time
  • Multiple potential configurations

Oris has even designed specialized clasp systems to help divers secure a perfect fit for their watch over a wetsuit. The Sliding Sledge Clasp can be adjusted easily and exactly, working even in hot and cold situations where wrists expand or shrink. The Safety Anchor ensures that a diver never loses their watch in the event of an accidental impact. Two hooks grab the rubber strap in the event of an unexpected release.

The Diver

The Diver is Oris’s standard diving watch. The range’s most popular model is the Diver Sixty-Five, which looks back to the company’s first diving watches produced in 1965. The surface design is fun and retro, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about the engineering.

You can purchase Divers in standard time-and-date or chronograph configurations.

Aquis

Oris’s Aquis watch is designed for someone who needs to go from the office to the deep sea. Its sleek appearance places it among the more elegant Oris watches for women, but the range contains equally popular Oris watches for men. Most importantly, the watch’s specifications ensure the wearer’s safety, no matter their gender. The Acquis is water-resistant all the way down to 300m.

The Aquis collection is both popular and varied. The watch comes in a variety of limited-edition models and can be configured with a dizzying assortment of complications depending on your diving needs.

For the ultimate Oris diving watch experience, the brand recommends the Aquis Date Calibre 400. It combines all the features of the Aquis Date Watch with the brand’s second in-house movement, the Calibre 400.

The ProDiver

The essential diver’s tool, the Oris Pro Diver is a heftier and more complicated timepiece with a bold, no-nonsense look. It features:

  • A lightweight titanium case
  • Oris’s patented bezel-locking system
  • An automatic helium escape valve
  • Water-resistance to an incredible 1000m

The ProDiver comes in a chronograph configuration as well as one with a second time zone — Greenwich Mean Time — for world-traveling divers.

Aviation Watches

Oris has been making pilot watches since the dawn of aviation. Even before producing its more common diving watches, the company was already known for its influence in the skies.

Big Crown

The Oris Big Crown debuted in 1938, and the current incarnation pays tribute to this history with a vintage aesthetic. Its most popular configuration, the Big Crown Pointer Date, includes a pointer that gives the date, slowly moving around the dial each month.

The watch comes with either a stainless steel case or a bronze one for a more vintage feel. A watch destined for the skies rather than the seas, the Big Crown is still water-resistant to 50m.

Big Crown ProPilot

The Big Crown ProPilot is to the Big Crown what the ProDiver is to the Diver Sixty-Five. The ultimate pilot’s watch, the ProPilot is an irreplaceable aviator’s assistant.

Water-resistant to 100m, the watch comes in a further range of configurations designed for today’s pilots. For example, the Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter is the world’s first mechanical watch to feature a mechanical altimeter.

Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115

Oris chose the Big Crown ProPilot as one of the ranges to feature its first in-house movement. The Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115 deserves special mention. According to the company, “Every watch Oris has ever made has led to the creation of the Big Crown ProPilot X Calibre 115, the most Oris watch we’ve ever made.”

The watch puts its caliber on display. The skeletonized movement puts the impressive engineering front and center, opening it up to reveal the workings of its ten-day power reserve and non-linear reserve indicator.

Motor Sport

In the seventies, Oris discovered the world of motor racing, a world in which every fraction of a second matters. Its racing ranges bring the flash and excitement of the track to each timepiece. When designing for fans of motor sport, Oris watches tend to gravitate toward the masculine aesthetic.

Chronoris

The Oris Chronoris debuted almost fifty years ago, and the current Chronoris still invokes that seventies funkiness without sacrificing class. The Chronoris Date has an inner rotating bezel, while the Chronoris Chronograph has inner dials and a tachymeter.

The Movember model was made in support of the men’s health charity with the same name. The iconic Movember facial hair — from no-shave November — pairs well with the range’s aesthetic.

Artix GT

The Artix GT is sleeker than the Chronoris. At the moment, the company has focused this collection on the Artix GT Skeleton, which has a skeleton case that displays the watch’s inner workings. The watch’s rubber edge allows a solid grip, enabling wearers to take accurate readings.

Culture

The culture world encompasses all of Oris’s designs that don’t quite fall into one of its three sporting worlds. For example, a few recent Artelier models honor yesterday’s jazz musicians.

Artelier

The Oris Artelier collection includes some of the brand’s most audacious feats of engineering — as well as its most whimsical. Different complications can point out anything from the current moon phase to the day of the year. Some Artelier models also use in-house movements.

Classic

The Oris Classic range is the brand’s simplest and most affordable design. It only comes in a standard three-hand and date configuration and is aimed at consumers who want the experience of a Swiss-Made luxury mechanical watch without any added frills or complications.

The Oris Watch for You

You now know a little about Oris’s history and collections, but there’s a lot more to this company than is possible to describe in a brief guide. Browse the Oris ranges for examples or ask for input from those you trust.

If you’re still unsure whether an Oris automatic watch is right for you — or you don’t know just which model you should get — contact the experts at Brinker’s Jewelers. Better yet, drop in to discuss the subject in person.

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