More Bang for your Buck
The American tycoon Warren Buffet once said, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” This ethos has been embraced by Oris, a brand that since inception has sought to make exceptional watches at competitive prices. Brand President Ulrich Herzog tal
Oris is one of those rare watch brands that leave you wondering why the products of many of its rivals are so expensive. There are no quartz movements in the range, and the finish and design of Oris pieces are invariably of a quality that seems to exceed their price.
Part of the reason for the Oris offering being such good value is that, unlike makers which pride themselves on their low volumes, the house has positioned itself as a producer of watches on an industrial scale ever since it was founded in Holstein in 1904 by Paul Cattin and Georges Christian.
Within six years, the company was employing 300 people and, by 1936, it had manufacturing bases in Holderbank, Como, Courgenay, Ziefen, Herbertswil and Bienne. It even built homes for its workers and laid on a private bus service to get them to and from the factories.
By the time of WWII, Oris – then in the hands of Antoine LeCoultre's grandson, JacquesDavid – was churning out an impressive 200,000 watches and clocks every year, a figure that had risen to 1.2 million by the early 1970s.
A certain degree of 'regrouping' entailed as a result of the quartz crisis and Oris, which had been acquired by what later became the Swatch Group, was bought-out in 1982 by its General Manager, Dr Rolf Portmann, and marketing head, Ulrich Herzog.
Today, Herzog is the brand's President and remains as enthusiastic as ever that Oris should offer high quality, value for money products – which is why the firm has somewhat thrown the cat among the pigeons at this year's Baselworld by marking its 110th anniversary with a new watch featuring an in-house movement with 10day power reserve at an unmatched starting price of just CHF 5,500 in steel.
"We introduced our patented Depth Gauge dive watch at Baselworld in 2013, and it has become our ambition to have a new patent each year, " Herzog told Plaza Watch.
“This is the first mechanical movement Oris has developed from the ground up for more than 35 years, and it combines a 10-day power reserve with a patented, non-linear power reserve indication – two complications which have never before come together. The result is something of a milestone in mechanical watch making, with each movement being hand assembled in our Holstein factory.
"We've managed to develop the movement so that it operates with a single mainspring barrel – quite unusual in a watch with such a long power reserve – because that enabled us to keep the calibre to a relatively small size.
“The non-linear power reserve is also very special, too, because the notches representing the days of power remaining are closer together at the top of the scale than they are at the bottom – so, as the hand progresses clockwise around the scale, it begins to move more quickly as the watch runs down.”
Herzog admits that the low price of the watch – which will be made in an edition of 110 in steel and 110 in red gold costing CHF 14,800 – is surprisingly affordable for a piece with such impressive technical credentials, but is confident that the value for money aspect will be maintained as further power reserve models with additional complications are subsequently added to the range.
“Value for money is very, very important for us,” says Herzog.
“We have always had the ability to think and work in an industrial way, and bigger numbers inevitably make a watch more accessible to a greater audience. That has been the Oris philosophy for more than a century, and that's how we intend to keep it.”
“Value for money is very, very important for us”