FIVE SCORE AND TEN
Ten years after celebrating its Century, Oris finally launches its first complete manufacture movement since 1981 to celebrate its 110th Anniversary.
Almost 40 years on since the last in-house movement was made, Oris launches its latest in-house Calibre 110 to
celebrate the occasion.
ORIS IS CELEBRATING its 110th Anniversary this year. Though considered only middle-aged in the horological world, the watch company has seen its fair share of innovations. The one constant factor that is now deeply and proudly entrenched in its DNA is this: it is one of the very few that can lay claim to having always been a moderately priced mechanical watch. It even survived the two decades of quartz movement, which was considered a death knell to most of the watch world. In today’s terms, Oris is one of the greats, as we now view mechanical as the ultimate watch to have. The tables have turned, and needless to say, Oris has returned with a vengeance.
The watch company was first established in 1904 by watchmakers by the name of Paul Cattin and Georges Christian in the town of Holstein in Switzerland. The name Oris comes from a brook near to where the two bought a closed watch factory. Their first watch was a gold pocket watch with a white enamel dial and Roman numerals transferred hour indexes. In the mid 1910s, they started manufacturing wristwatches, and by the ’20s and ’30s the company had prospered to seven factories to keep up with the demand.
A little stumbling block in the Swiss watchmaking industry occurred in the form of the ‘Watch Statute’ which was implemented in 1934 and prohibited watchmakers from introducing new technologies without permission. This naturally hindered a lot of progress in the industry and for still unknown reasons— though it is likely to have been due to the strained political climate leading up to WWII. Unperturbed, Oris carried on perfecting their existing technology. 1938 was a good year for Oris, as it introduced two firsts: A first pilot watch with a pointer calendar—which was also the first of its kind. As WWII went off around the world, Switzerland’s neutrality affected them economically as their trade diminished. To survive, Oris started making alarm clocks which eventually led to the creation of the 8-day power reserve which was launched in 1949. When the mid ’50s rolled along, Oris had become one of the largest and most advanced watch manufacturers in all of Switzerland, and they made nearly all the components in-house, except for the hands, hairsprings and jewels.
Oris launched their very first chronograph in 1970, the iconic Chronoris. Its design had moved on from the usual classics, in favour of a more modern tonneau-like shape, while maintaining the round dial with updated orange scale marking on a black dial, and it lived on to become one of the most successful models the company had ever produced.
We all know what happened in the mid-‘70s until early-‘90s, therefore no recount is required of the calamity that hit the Swiss watch industries. Oris was not spared in the catastrophe and had nearly died in the early 1980s, until two employees decided to grab the opportunity. Dr Rolf Portmann and Ulrich W. Herzog bought the company. They refocused on the mechanical watches, and by the 1990s they became completely mechanical and were a strong contributor to the revival of the mechanical watches. As the demand for mechanical in the early 90s was still relatively
low and the feasibility of producing small amount of mechanical movement was rather unsuitable, Oris relied on third party movements, which was the trend in the industry. It is only now that the table has turned in favour of mechanical movements that watchmakers are confident again in making their own movements. Now the trend for any decent watch makers is to become independent from third party movements as the demand for them is reaching its highest ever in watchmaking history.
To celebrate their independence and their 110th Anniversary, Oris decided to unveil a couple of stars. The first is its first in-house movement since the ’70s, the Calibre 110, which will be a popular timepiece with everyone as it has a 10-day power reserve from a large and powerful single barrel. The other star of the anniversary is the Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter, which boasts the world’s first automatic mechanical altimeter watch.
CULTURE COLLECTION: 110 YEARS LIMITED EDITION
Leading the pack is of course is the Oris 110 Years Limited Edition, the showcase of more than a century’s worth of experience in the art of watchmaking plus their latest technology. The watch took six years to develop and has an amazing 10-day power reserve—this power is harnessed and stored in a single large barrel which takes up a quarter of the movement on the back and it has a rotary-style power reserve indicator. The movement’s bridges are hand polished and edges beveled, while the bridges are left undecorated to give it an industrial feel (and of course, keep the cost down). You can view the movement through the sapphire case back
which also displays the non-linear power reserve indicator. This not-so-little marvel is housed in a stainless steel case or a gold case with white dial and Super-LumiNova hour and minute hands and a small seconds at nine o’clock, and a power reserve indicator at three o’clock.
AVIATION COLLECTION: BIG CROWN PROPILOT ALTIMETER
The aviation timepiece was the watchmaker’s first venture into the area of specialties. They launched their very first pilot watch in 1938, and the star of this anniversary is also the Aviation Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter. Almost 80 years of experience in making pilot watches has gone into this latest star addition. It boast the first automatic mechanical pilot watch with an altimeter. Normally the rarely seen altimeter on a mechanical watch is usually found in the hand-wound movements and with years of research and development, Oris has found it good enough to fit it into its automatic winding movement. The altimeter is an instrument that measures the changes in the atmospheric pressure, and calculates the altitude in feet or meters above sea level, and it is particularly useful to pilots. It’s always good to have a spare just in case. The black dial has three layers the base dial has the Super-LumiNova Arabic hour markers and hour indexes marked and an hour and minute hands coated with Super-LumiNova with a red tipped black second hand. The automatic mechanical movement is housed in a robust brushed stainless steel with fluted bezel.
DIVER COLLECTION: PRODIVER POINTER MOON
The second specialised area for Oris to venture into is the diving watch category. It didn’t really happen until 2009, when it introduced the ProDiver and BC4. A whole new market has opened up for diving watches, and with growing numbers of enthusiasts for all things mechanical, diving watches have become a craze. Pointer Moon is leading the pack in the ProDrive, with its chart (in the shape of ‘8’) mapping the lunar cycle, to help you monitor the tides resulting from the moon’s gravitational pull and also the moon phase around the outer flange of the black dial. The hour index markers decorating the dial are coated with Super-LumiNova and repeated on the hour, minute and second hands with the moon pointer in orange are powered by an automatic mechanical movement re-engineered from Sellita SW220. They are encased in titanium housing with ceramic bezel.
Above and left: 110 Years Limited Edition, Calibre 110.
Left and below: ProDiver Pointer Moon, side view.