Oris Watches: The Beginning
Oris watches, the company, was founded in in 1904 by Paul Cattin and Georges Christian, and the brand quickly found success. Within just a few short years, they became a powerful business in the town of Holstein, Switzerland and an influential force in the watch industry. By 1911, they had grown to employ over 300 workers. They also expanded beyond their factory to an entire campus that offered housing and other amenities for their employees.
As the business continued to grow, ultimately opening four more factories in surrounding cities, so did their offerings. In 1925, they debuted their first wristwatch, marking the global shift from pocket watches to wristwatches following WWI. The dawn of the wristwatch brought about the introduction of one of Oris’s most iconic models: the Big Crown.
The first Big Crown hit the market in 1938. As the name indicates, the model featured a distinct oversized crown. Its design was for pilots, to help them seamlessly adjust their watch while wearing leather flying gloves. Another important feature of the Big Crown was the unique Pointer Calendar function, showcasing a center hand with an arrow pointing to the date along the outside periphery of the dial.
The 1940’s and the onset of WWII marked a period of transition for Oris and the watch industry as a whole. However, Oris persisted and continued to produce and innovate. Their slow and steady efforts paid off, and in 1952, they debuted their first automatic movement, the Caliber 601.
Oris Watches: The 1960’s
By the 1960’s, Oris and the watch industry had bounced back from the uncertain times during periods of war. For Oris, these were the golden years. They rose to the top of the industry, becoming one of the ten largest watch companies in the world, employing over 800 workers, and producing around 1.2 million watches and clocks per year.
The thriving period of the 1960’s was short lived and sharply contrasted by the dawn of the Quartz Crisis in the 1970’s. The whole industry saw an impact, including Oris. The brand became part of ASUAG, now known as the Swatch Group. Even with the restructuring, Oris’s production plummeted, reducing their staff to only a few dozen.
Oris persevered through these challenging times and was able to regain their independent status in 1982 following a management buyout. This was a turning point for Oris and allowed them to reclaim their position as one of the top brands in the industry. In the decades to follow, the brand would create some of its most well-known collections.
Just before the turn of the century in 1999, Oris added the automatic BC3 to its collection of pilot’s watches. The model represented a new era for the company with a distinctly modern design featuring a highly legible dial and utilitarian case equipped with satin finished stainless steel that absorbs rather than deflects light.
Oris Watches: The 2000’s
In the new millennium, Oris unveiled the first model in the TT1 collection in 2001. This model pays homage to the brand’s history with motorsports, featuring a uniquely designed rubber strap that draws inspiration from the tread pattern of a Formula 1 tire.
Just two years later in 2003, Oris added the Artelier collection to its catalog. This series of sophisticated and timeless watches showcase some of the brand’s most innovative and highly developed calibers. That same year, Oris secured a partnership with the Williams Formula 1 racing team and launched its first series of Williams F1 watches. Later, in 2015, the Williams collection became a permanent fixture in the brand’s offerings.
In 2009, Oris landed another partnership, this time with commercial diver Roman Freischknecht to develop an all-new diver’s watch. Their collaboration resulted in the Prodiver. One of the most notable features of the collection is the brand’s patented Rotation Safety System. This allows divers to lock the unidirectional rotating bezel into place to prevent mistakes underwater.
In more recent years, Oris has continually expanded the models in their collections. They also shifted their focus to developing their own movements. They debuted their first in-house caliber in 2014 in conjunction with the brand’s 110th anniversary, aptly named the Caliber 110. This hand-wound movement boasts a unique pairing of complications: a ten day power reserve and a non-linear power reserve indicator. Now, the Caliber 110 is just one of the brand’s growing collection of in-house movements.