Plaza Watch International - - Baselworld Roundup -

As tag-lines go, this one says a lot: “Real watches for real peo­ple”. That’s the ap­proach es­poused by Oris that some­what cuts against the idea that qual­ity me­chan­i­cal watches have to be hugely ex­pen­sive, of­ten in no small part due to siz­able mar­ket­ing bud­gets and celebrity endorsements. Nat­u­rally enough, this means Oris – which next year cel­e­brates its 110th year – is of­ten over­looked. And this de­spite the more re­cent years in its his­tory, since 1982, when a man­age­ment buy-out saw the com­pany be­come pri­vate­ly­owned by board mem­bers and man­age­ment, see­ing the devel­op­ment of con­sis­tently solid lines.

Most no­table among th­ese is its sig­na­ture retro Big Crown col­lec­tion, with its out­sized win­der (all the bet­ter to be han­dled wear­ing hefty fly­ing gloves) and Oris pointer date in­no­va­tion (dat­ing to 1938). But as CEO Ul­rich Her­zog has pointed out, mak­ing a watch that looks con­vinc­ingly from a by­gone era – given con­sumers’ de­mands for mod­ern per­for­mance – is of­ten harder than it is to make an en­tirely new model. Many have since tried.

It does mod­ern watches too, how­ever. Its new Blue Ea­gles limited edi­tion pi­lot’s watch – cel­e­brat­ing the 40th an­niver­sary of the he­li­copter dis­play team of the same name, which Oris spon­sors – is a case in point. With its 24-hour scale dis­play, DLC (Di­a­mond Like Car­bon) coat­ing, sec­ond time zone and, most strik­ingly, its dis­tinc­tive ver­ti­cal crown, this is a limited edi­tion one sus­pects Oris will have to qui­etly re­peat.

In­deed, de­spite its con­nec­tions too with div­ing and mo­tor-rac­ing (OK, so Oris’ idea of “real peo­ple” ac­tu­ally means “real peo­ple with rather un­real jobs”), the com­pany is carv­ing a strong case for it to be re­spected as a bone fide avi­a­tion watch brand. Not many, af­ter all, also spon­sor a team of vin­tage Hunter jets. Many of its lat­est limited edi­tion pieces are for fly-boys ac­tual and imag­i­nary, in­clud­ing its dark grey-dial Swiss Hunter Team PS, and one com­mem­o­rat­ing the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice, com­plete with not one, but two big crowns. JS

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