GENESIS

1904

Oris is founded by Paul Cattin and Georges Christian in the Swiss town of Hölstein. They buy the recently closed Lohner & Co watch factory, and on June 1, 1904 the two men enter into a contract with the local mayor. They name their new watch company Oris, after a nearby brook.

EARLY GROWTH 

1906

The firm opens an assembly plant and second factory in the nearby town of Holderbank.

A PERIOD OF EXPANSION

1911

By 1911, Oris has become the largest employer in Hölstein, with over 300 workers. To entice more watchmakers, it builds houses and apartments for its staff. Oris’s success continues, and it expands so that by 1929 it has factories in Hölstein (1904), Holderbank (1906), Como (1908), Courgenay (1916), Herbetswil (1925) and Ziefen (1925).

THE FIRST ORIS WRISTWATCHES

1925

Oris expands further still, opening a factory in Ziefen and its own electroplating factory in Herbetswil. The company begins to fit bracelet buckles to its pocket watches, thereby transforming them into fully-fledged wristwatches.

THE END OF AN ERA

1927

Company co-founder Georges Christian dies and Jacques-David LeCoultre becomes President of the Board of Directors. Jacques-David LeCoultre was Antoine LeCoultre’s grandson and the man who merged with Edmond Jaeger to form Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1937.

THE NEXT GENERATION

1928

Oscar Herzog

Following the death of Georges Christian a year earlier, Oscar Herzog, Christian’s brother-in-law, takes over as General Manager, a position he will hold for 43 years. From 1928 to 1971 Herzog steers Oris through the many watchmaking highs and lows of the 20th century.

THE SWISS WATCH STATUTE

1934

Oscar Herzog’s ambitions to improve the quality of his company’s products run into trouble when, on March 12, 1934, the Swiss government introduces the so-called ‘Watch Statute’, a peculiar law designed to protect and regulate the industry that prevents watch companies from introducing new technologies without permission. Until that point, Oris had been using pin-lever escapement (Roskopf escapement) movements, which were claimed to be less accurate than the lever escapements used by some of Oris’s competitors, who had adopted such technology before the law was passed.

THE EXPANSION CONTINUES

1936


Oris opens its own dial factory in Biel/Bienne

THE FIRST ORIS ESCAPEMENTS

1938

As an integrated manufacturer Oris produces its own watch escapements. The company employs many highly skilled watchmakers, becoming one of the first employers to offer equal opportunities to both men and women

THE BIRTH OF THE BIG CROWN

1938


Oris introduces its first watch for pilots, which has a distinguishing big crown and a Pointer Calendar function. The collection takes its name from the watch’s oversized crown, employed as an aid to pilots who adjust their watches while wearing leather gloves. In time, aviation becomes one of the four ‘Oris Worlds’.

ALARM CLOCKS

1940

During the Second World War, Oris’s distribution network beyond Switzerland is reduced significantly. To keep business alive, the company starts manufacturing alarm clocks. The famous eight-day power reserve model is launched in 1949.

AWARDS FOR ACCURACY

1945

Oris is awarded the first of over 200 distinctions for a pin-lever movement from the Bureau Officiel de Contrôle de la Marche des Montres in Le Locle, proving that a pin-lever movement is as accurate as a lever escapement.

ORIS’S INFLUENCE SPREADS

1946

During the post-war expansion, Oris runs a fleet of buses shuttling employees to its company headquarters in Hölstein from towns as far as 25 km away.

THE 8-DAY CLOCK

1949

During the Second World War, the company’s output is limited to around 200,000 pieces a year. Oris keeps business alive by manufacturing alarm clocks, which leads to the landmark eight-day power reserve model launched at the end of the 1940s.

THE FIRST ORIS AUTOMATIC MOVEMENT

1952

Oris launches its first automatic watch with a power reserve indicator. It’s powered by Oris’s highly accurate Calibre 601.

FREE AT LAST

1956

The company’s General Manager Oscar Herzog hires a young lawyer by the name of Dr Rolf Portmann. Rolf spends his first 10 years at the company campaigning to reverse the so-called ‘Watch Statue’ that prevents Oris from using lever escapements in its watch movements. In 1966, he succeeds, earning his place in Swiss watch history.

A LEGEND COMES TO LIFE

1965

Oris launches a state-of-the-art diver’s watch with a unidirectional rotating bezel with timer scale, bold, luminescent numerals, and water resistance to 100m. The watch will be re-released 50 years later, becoming one of the company’s most successful launches.

THE FIRST ORIS CHRONOMETER

1968

The Swiss ‘Watch Statute’ introduced in 1934 prevents Oris introducing new technology for more than 30 years, but in 1966, the statute is reversed. Just two years later, the company unveils Oris Calibre 652 (which uses a superior lever escapement). It is awarded full chronometer certification – the highest distinction for accuracy – by the Observatoire Astronomique et Chronométrique.

THE GOLDEN YEARS

1969

By the end of the 1960s, Oris is one of the 10 largest watch companies in the world. It employs 800 people across a network of factories in Hölstein and beyond, and produces 1.2 million watches and clocks a year. The company develops its own tools and machinery, and even runs an apprenticeship scheme, training 40 engineers and watchmakers every year.

GROUP MENTALITY

1970

In 1970, Oris becomes part of ASUAG, which will one day become Swatch Group. The timing couldn’t be worse as the Quartz Crisis grips the Swiss Watch Industry. Oris, no longer independent, endures a difficult decade during which production plummets and staff numbers dip from 900 to only a few dozen. Its future will later be secured by a management buy-out that returns Oris’s independent status.

CHRONORIS

1970

Oris launches the Chronoris, the company’s first and now iconic chronograph. It’s also the first watch in Oris’s Motor Sport collection. The Chronoris is relaunched 35 years later in 2005.

A CHANGE IN FORTUNES

1984

With Oris in decline because of the Quartz Crisis of the 1970s and early 1980s, Dr Rolf Portmann and Ulrich W. Herzog lead a management buyout. Soon after, the newly formed Oris SA bravely elects to abandon quartz and produce solely mechanical timepieces.

A REVIVED VISION

1984

During the mid-1980s, Ulrich W. Herzog, now the company’s chairman, travels regularly to Japan, where he observes a newfound passion for mechanical watches. Recognising the influence the Japanese have over global trends, he introduces a new business vision: Oris aims to become the global leader in mechanical watches with special movements at competitive prices. In 1984, he reintroduces the Pointer Calendar first seen in the Big Crown watches of the late 1930s. In time, the distinctive function will become Oris’s signature complication.

THE SOUND OF THINGS TO COME

1988

Oris’s reawakening is marked by the launch of its first mechanical alarm wristwatch.

HIGH-MECH

1990

The company coins its High-Mech slogan to communicate the quality and integrity of its Swiss Made mechanical movements. In the same year, it releases The Players Watch, a football-inspired piece with four independent counters.

COMPLICATING MATTERS

1991

Oris’s decision to produce only mechanical watches is vindicated in 1991 with the launch of the highly successful Calibre 581. At the time, it becomes the company’s most complicated calibre, with a moon-phase module developed by an in-house team of watchmakers.

ORIS TUNES INTO JAZZ

1996

The Oris London Jazz Festival becomes the company’s first major partnership and marks the beginning of a strong emotional connection between Oris and jazz. The company celebrates with the launch of its first jazz watch, a piece named after British saxophonist Andy Sheppard.

A WORLD FIRST

1997

Oris launches its pioneering Worldtimer, a watch housing a patented function that means local time can be adjusted forwards or backwards in one-hour jumps via buttons on either side of the case. If local time is adjusted forwards or backwards over midnight, the date is updated accordingly.

BUILT FOR PILOTS

1999


Oris adds the automatic BC3 to its collection of pilot’s watches. The BC3 marks a new design direction for the company. Its clear, legible dial is complemented by a utilitarian case shape to create a fresh, modern look that takes the world of aviation watches by storm. Among its key characteristics are a satin-finished stainless steel case that absorbs rather than deflects light, and a flush-fit bracelet or rubber strap.

THINKING BIG

2000

Oris is at the forefront of the developing trend for larger watches, introducing the Oris XXL, an oversized line of casual sports watches. As significant is that it becomes the first Oris collection to be available in three sizes and with three different movement options, offering customers more choice without having to compromise on style or quality.

BIRTH OF COOL

2001

Oris’s close ties to jazz are brought to life with a collection of watches named in honour of Miles Davis, one of the 20th century’s most influential musicians. The elegant rectangular shape of the case demonstrates Oris’s passion for both form and function. The line is extended with a tonneau-shaped model and a diamond-set ladies’ model.

A GOOD SPORT

2001

With the Oris TT1, the company adds new momentum to its collection of performance watches. The new watch has a black rubber bezel and a stainless steel case, fused with a sporty rubber strap that mirrors the longitudinal tread pattern of a Formula 1 tyre.

THE RED ROTOR

2002

In 2002, the Red Rotor becomes Oris’s registered trademark. It symbolises Oris’s philosophy: to produce high-quality, Swiss Made mechanical watches with real-world functions at accessible prices.

A TIMELESS CLASSIC

2003

Oris introduces the Artelier collection, a series of classic, elegant timepieces, many of which carry innovative, high-functioning calibres developed by the company’s in-house watchmakers.

MOVING UP THE GRID

2003

In 2003, Oris signs a deal with the Williams Formula 1 team and launches its first Williams F1 Team watches, beginning a fruitful partnership that spawns numerous timepieces and innovations. In 2015, the Oris Williams collection is launched, the first range of watches dedicated to the F1 icon.

100 YEARS

2004

For its centenary, Oris launches the Oris Centennial Set 1904 Limited Edition. It includes an Artelier Worldtimer in stainless steel and an eight-day clock, one of the company’s most iconic historic designs. It is limited to 1904 timepieces, all individually numbered.

THE QUICK-LOCK CROWN

2004

Oris develops its pioneering Quick Lock Crown system, which differs from the traditional screw-in crown in that it only requires a single clockwise turn of 120 degrees to secure it in place.

RACING AHEAD

2006

Oris introduces a limited edition watch to celebrate the emergence of the talented young Williams F1 Team driver Nico Rosberg. The watch has a precision-engineered titanium case that mirrors the precision, quality and excitement of Grand Prix racing.

GOING DEEPER

2006

Oris signs a partnership with record-breaking freediver Carlos Coste in the same year he breaks the world record in the variable weight category, descending to a depth of 140 metres and returning to the surface on a single breath. In 2010, the Venezuelan establishes a new free-diving Guinness World Record by completing a 150-metre underwater swim on a single breath through Dos Ojos, a colossal cenote (a natural underground reservoir) that twists for 40 miles under Yucatan, Mexico. For his swim, Coste is armed with only a torch and a monofin. Oris honours his death-defying dive by creating a special Carlos Coste Limited Edition Cenote Series watch.

THE VERTICAL CROWN

2008

Oris unveils the innovative BC4 Flight Timer, a watch that displays three time zones, one of which is adjusted using the vertical crown at 2 o’clock. In 2009, the watch wins a Red Dot Award for ‘Best of the Best’.

THE ROTATION SAFETY SYSTEM

2009

Oris works with ambassador and commercial diver Roman Frischknecht to develop the ProDiver, a diver’s watch that features the patented Rotation Safety System, a unidirectional rotating bezel that can be locked into place, preventing mistakes under water.

FLYING HIGH

2009

Oris backs the Swiss Hunter Team, an independent aerial display team operated by the Fliegermuseum based in the Swiss town of Altenrhein. The partnership will spawn a series of special edition watches.

THE SLIDING SLEDGE CLASP

2010

Oris develops a unique safety clasp that stops a watch from falling off, even if it comes undone. The clasp also features a clever quick-adjust system that can be operated without taking the watch off.

SAVING THE REEF

2010

In 2010, Oris partners with the Australian Marine Conservation Society to help protect and preserve the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest reef system. Oris launches a limited edition diver’s watch, called the Oris Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition, to raise awareness for one of the world’s most respected and effective marine conservation charities. A second piece is announced in 2015, continuing the partnership.

ORIS GETS REAL

2010

Oris unveils its new company slogan ‘real watches for real people’ via a new partnership with Chinese artist Liu Bolin. Known as the ‘Invisible Man’, Liu paints himself into his pictures, including a piece commissioned by Oris to introduce the new slogan. His work is designed to explore the spirit of time and look at how we, as individuals, fit into the world we have created. The resulting images are published all over the globe.

BREAKING BARRIERS

2011

Oris launches the Big Crown X1 Calculator, a pilot’s watch named after the Bell X1 supersonic rocket-powered plane, with a circular slide rule on the bezel. The watch is also water-resistant to 3 bar (30 m) – a rare feat for a watch with this function that took Oris’s engineers 2 years to perfect.

NEED FOR SPEED

2012

The Oris Artix GT Chronograph features the Oris-developed retrograde small seconds counter. Inspired by the rev counter on a modern race car, it fills with red over the course of 60 seconds.

THE WATCH WITH A HOLE

2013

Oris’s patented Aquis Depth Gauge solves the challenge of getting a depth gauge into a mechanical watch. It allows water into a channel via a small hole at 12 o’clock – water enters under pressure, creating a watermark that corresponds to a depth gauge.

CHANGING THE TIDES

2013

The Oris ProDiver Pointer Moon becomes the world’s first mechanical watch to indicate both the lunar cycle and the tidal range. The function is developed with commercial diver Roman Frischknecht and powered by the new Oris Calibre 761.

REVIVING A MOVEMENT

2014

Oris celebrates 110 years of watchmaking with its first in-house-developed calibre for 35 years. Calibre 110 is a hand-wound movement with a unique pairing of complications – a 10-day power reserve and a non-linear power reserve indicator. The movement is produced using highly efficient industrial manufacturing techniques.

AIR TIME

2014

More than 75 years after Oris made its first pilot’s watch, it announces the launch of the most innovative pilot’s watch in its history – the Oris Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter, the world’s first automatic mechanical watch with a mechanical altimeter.

START YOUR ENGINES

2015

Forty-five years after Oris first entered the world of motor sport the company introduces a range of watches named in honour of its long-standing partner Williams, one of the most iconic names in Formula 1.

THE MOVEMENT CONTINUES

2015

In 2015, Oris introduces Calibre 111. In addition to the functions featured in Calibre 110, it also has a date function, creating another unique grouping of complications. Like Calibre 110, Calibre 111 is finished using a combination of industrial and hand-applied techniques. The bridges have hand-polished and bevelled edges, while the surfaces are untouched, giving them a deliberately utilitarian look. This also helps keep costs down so that watches powered by the movement fall in line with Oris’s ‘real’ watches philosophy.

source: www.oris.ch

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