Three key concepts underlie the sustainable Swiss
watchmaking of
Oris, and one is “change for the better.” 

In 1904, talented watchmakers Paul Cattin and Georges Christian decided to go their own way. They left Le Locle, the city at the heart of the Swiss watchmaking industry, for the small village of Hölstein deep in the spectacularly beautiful Waldenburg Valley. There they purchased a recently closed hat factory and formed a new company they named for a nearby brook, Oris.

Since its founding, Oris has claimed “go your own way” as its guiding principle. Today that sentiment is one of three pillars that form the foundation of the company’s value system. The second is that “things must make sense.” This independent spirit, guided by a tradition of rationality, inspired Oris’s role in overturning in 1966 a watch statute that had impeded industry innovation. The idea guided the company through the quartz crisis of the 1970s and ’80s, galvanizing a successful management buyout and the subsequent decision to abandon the manufacture of quartz watches for mechanical ones only. In 2021, Oris was certified as a climate-neutral company by ClimatePartner underlining the third pillar, “change for the better.”

Oris, which for decades has worked with more than 20 groups in the world of sustainability, launched its Change for the Better initiative to raise funds for and bring awareness to a plethora of pioneering environmental protection and conservation organiza- tions. At the same time, the initiative has guided its own produc- tion decisions regarding sustainable design and materials sourcing while maintaining the brand’s high standards for craftsmanship, beauty and quality.

Two organizations championed by Oris in this endeavor are the Billion Oyster Project, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring New York Harbor’s lost oyster population, and Coulson Aviation, an independent, family-run company that sends pilots, planes and equipment to areas all over the world affected by wildfires.

To support the Billion Oyster Project and its mission to restore one billion oysters to New York Harbor by 2035, Oris has released the New York Harbor Limited Edition. Based on the Aquis diver’s watch, this 41.5mm wristwatch features a green mother-of-pearl dial and a matching rubber strap inspired by the color of the water and oyster shells in the harbor. With just 2,000 pieces made, this stainless-steel dive watch is water-resistant to 300 meters and features a caseback engraved with the words “New York Harbor Limited Edition,” the watch’s production number and a stunning rendering of the oysters.

Oris has commemorated its partnership with Coulson Aviation, the world’s leading aerial firefighting organization, by releasing the Coulson Limited Edition. Featuring a vibrant, gradient-orange dial reminiscent of fire and a case produced using a novel 3-D printing process that weaves together carbon fiber and a high- grade polymer called PEKK to create an ultra-lightweight, rigid material, this watch is based on the Oris Big Crown ProPilot. Its innovative multi-piece case with gray PVD-plated titanium fixed bezel measures 41mm and houses the highly anti-magnetic, five- day automatic caliber 400 movement. Limited to 1,000 pieces, the Coulson Limited Edition embodies the Coulson Aviation vision: to crush fires, assist firefighters on the ground and protect life and the environment.

Conservation and sustainability have also become cornerstones of Oris’s production, specifically in materials sourcing. Standard watch presentation boxes are now made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified or natural algae-based materials, and some of the limited-edition conservation watches are presented in boxes made from recycled plastics.

To celebrate its climate-neutral status and encourage people all over the world to take part in ocean cleanup days, Oris has launched the Aquis Date Upcycle, a version of its high-performance diver’s watch with a colorful dial made exclusively of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastics. Because the plastic recycling process produces random patterns, each dial is unique. Available in either a 41.5mm or a 36.5mm multi-piece stainless-steel case, the Upcycle is water- resistant to 300 meters and has a 38-hour power reserve.

For Oris, sustainability is a value that applies not only to the world at large, but also to home base in Hölstein.

The pristine beauty of the Waldenburg Valley has been a part of the Oris identity since
the company’s inception, and so it was only natural for the brand to partner with Cervo Volante, a young Swiss company that uses sustainable deer leather obtained from Switzerland’s necessary and highly regulated deer population management program and tanned with traditional methods to make luxury shoes and accessories.

The Oris x Cervo Volante collaboration has debuted three stainless-steel Big Crown Pointer Date watches with gray, blue or green gradient dials inspired by the colors of the Alpine landscape and straps made of dark brown, oak brown or cognac deer leather. Each is presented with a travel pouch and a card holder made
of the same material. Powered by a caliber 754 movement, these wristwatches feature center hands for hours, minutes and seconds as well as a date center hand.

Notably, the Aquis Date Upcycle and the Oris x Cervo Volante Big Crown Pointer Date are not part of limited production runs, but instead will remain included in Oris’s regular collection as symbols of the brand’s continuing commitment to inspire and create change for the better.

Christen Fisher
James Free Jewelers 2023/2024