This independent company is well known for their robust sport watches and distinctive red rotors. Practical additional functions such as altimeters and depth gauges characterize this brand, but they offer more classic, traditional watches as well.
Oris offers exclusively mechanical watches with useful extra functions at affordable prices. The success of this independent Swiss manufacturer from Hölstein rests on their four main watch collections: the Culture, Diving, Aviation, and Motor Sport series. Models from the Aviation series, like the Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter
, are impressive thanks to extra features such as a mechanical altimeter. The pilot watch internally reacts to air pressure without allowing moisture to get in the case. The diving watch Aquis Depth Gauge from the Aquis
series sports a depth gauge based on a simple gas law, Boyle's Law. Boyle's Law states that the pressure of a gas and its volume are inversely proportional. Thus, air's volume decreases by half when the air pressure doubles. Oris made a channel in the glass of the watch where water enters, and the depth is then displayed by the water itself, as it's visible on a scale. The watches from the Motor Sport collection are sporty and most have a chronograph function, allowing wearers to time periods and determine speeds. A tachymetric scale makes it easy to read the calculated speeds.
Watches from the Culture collection are rather classic and traditional, such as those from the Artelier
series. The manufacturer enhances base movements from ETA and Sellita with independently developed modules. These modules enable complications such as moon phase indicators and weekday and month displays. Furthermore, all automatic watches possess the brand's trademark: a red rotor inscribed with the words "High Mech." The automatic caliber's rotor is visible in most models thanks to sapphire glass case backs. However, the diving watches with a screw-down case back do not have visible rotors. In 2014, Oris presented their first movement developed in-house since 1981: the manual Caliber 110, featuring an impressive 10-day power reserve.
Oris In-House Calibers: 110 and 111
For their 110th anniversary, Oris presented the Calibre 110, an in-house caliber which powers the timeless, elegant 110 Years Limited Edition wristwatch. The manual movement runs for 10 days, impressively drawing its power from only one barrel. The non-linear power reserve indication at the three o'clock position displays the days in segments, with the first segments closer together and the later segments further apart. Oris is the first manufacturer to combine such a long-lasting power reserve with this sort of display, and they have since patented this innovation. The trick to the display is this: Two snailed power reserve gears turn against each other towards the left above the balance wheel, thereby causing the power reserve indication hand to move as the days pass. After being fully wound, it moves slowly, but after about six days, it speeds up. Oris developed this movement over a period of 10 years together with the L’École Téchnique Le Locle in Switzerland.
The movement consists of 177 parts, 40 jewel bearings, and vibrates at a frequency of 3 Hz (21,600 A/h). It features a stop-seconds mechanism for the subsidiary seconds at nine o'clock as well as a fine timing device. The large barrel immediately catches your eye when watching the caliber working through the watch's sapphire glass case back. The barrel contains an impressively long 1.8 m mainspring which stores the energy to power the watch for 10 days. A rather small detail is the star-shaped screw in the center of the barrel, reminiscent of the logo of German car manufacturer Mercedes. The balance wheel, the heart of the watch, is located lower down on the caliber with a precision index adjuster resembling a rake. The Calibre 111 expands on the 110 by adding a practical date display at nine o'clock. Its date corrector makes it an easy watch to set. This caliber powers the Oris Calibre 111 wristwatch, available in stainless steel or 18-karat rose gold.
The Most Popular Oris Series
The Culture, Diving, Aviation, and Motor Sport series are Oris' most successful series worldwide. The classic watch collections Artelier, Classic, Artix, and Rectangular from the Culture series are especially popular in Asia. These watches include models named after famous jazz musicians, such as the Thelonious Monk Limited Edition.
However, the three-hand diving watch Aquis Date is most popular in Europe. This sturdy sport watch isn't just beloved amongst divers - it's also enjoyed by so-called "city divers" - men between the ages of 25 and 40 who prefer high-quality, durable diving watches, but don't ever take them underwater. Since the end of the 1990s, they have become Oris' target group: sporty, youthful men who have a taste for quality on their wrists. The brand's ambassadors, such as the Venezuelan Carlos Coste, also fit this image: According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Coste was considered one of the best freedivers in the world. Freediving is the oldest form of diving in the world. The diver holds their breath for the duration of the dive instead of relying on tanks of extra air. The watches in the Aquis collection are waterproof to 300 or 500 m, depending on the watch, which emphasizes their use for professional divers. The Prodiver models can be taken even deeper: These professional timepieces can withstand pressure up to 1,000 m (100 bar).
Oris is also active in auto racing. The watches in the Williams series were the result of cooperation with the Formula 1 racing team of the same name. The watches and chronographs were, like the Audi Sport and Calobra models, inspired by car racing. Tachymetric scales allow the wearer to calculate speeds. Leather bands with holes are typical for racing watches and available from Oris as well. These chronographs have designs reminiscent of the Carrera series from the Swiss manufacturer TAG Heuer
The Big Crown models from the Aviation collection have the classic style of the earlier Oris designs. The watch resembles most typical pilot watches, and useful complications such as a GMT function, altimeter, or chronograph increase its practicality.
From Outsider to Brand Name
Paul Cattin and Georges Christian founded the Oris watch factory in 1904 in Hölstein and named their company after a small stream near the town. The two men took over the watch company Lohner & Co., which had recently closed. With more than 300 employees by 1911, Oris quickly rose to be one of the largest employers in the region and subsidiaries and factory branches popped up as well. During the 1960s, Oris was one of the ten largest watch manufacturers in Switzerland with around 800 employees.
After the end of the Second World War, Oris had to battle with a problem unique to Switzerland: the 1934 Watch Statute. This statute was meant to protect the Swiss watch industry by strictly regulating which businesses could introduce watchmaking innovations. Therefore, Oris was not allowed to introduce their anchor escapement until 1966. The company used this seemingly unfortunate disadvantage to take the time to perfect their pin-pallet escapement. Between 1945 and 1953, the company received more than 240 certificates for "especially good results" from the Bureaux Officiels de Contrôle de la Marche des Montres. In 1966, the statute was done away with thanks to pressure from a later owner of the company, Dr. Rolf Portmann. Alarm clocks made by Oris in 1942 are still coveted pieces today and considered to be quite robust.
The company became a part of the Allgemeine Gesellschaft der Schweizerischen Uhrenindustrie (ASUAG) in 1970, which, along with the concern Société Suisse pour l'Industrie Horlogère (SSIH), was a precursor to the Swatch Group. The Quartz Crisis hit Oris hard - so hard in fact, that they almost went out of business. In 1982, Dr. Portmann and Ulrich W. Herzog took control of the company and implemented a management buyout. Since then, Oris has remained one of the few independent Swiss manufacturers.
Mechanical Watches at an Affordable Price
The watch manufacturer Oris offers exclusively sporty and masculine mechanical watches with sophisticated functionality. The chronographs, diving, and pilot watches are perfect for professional use or to add a stylish flair to your suit at the office. Classic, timeless watches are also available from Oris, all with the brand's logo, a red rotor with the words "High Mech." True to their motto, "Real watches for real people," Oris is making real watches for down-to-earth people.