Oris celebrates its roots with the first in a series of limited edition pieces named in honour of the Swiss village of Hölstein where the company was founded more than a century ago – Oris Hölstein Edition 2020.
From Hölstein, with love
The Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 is a celebration of the independent Swiss watch company’s roots, but it’s also designed to make people smile
On 1 June 1904, Paul Cattin and Georges Christian signed a contract in the Swiss village of Hölstein that began a story that would span many generations. The contract gave the two watchmakers permission to set up and run their own watch company. They named it after a local creek: Oris.
More than a century later, Oris and Hölstein have become synonymous with one another. The village and the surrounding Waldenburg Valley have shaped Oris’s philosophy, just as Oris has shaped the area and its identity.
On June 15 this year, Oris begins a new chapter in the story, releasing the first in a series of limited-edition watches named in honour of this magical place.
The Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 celebrates the company’s roots and its proud association with the Swiss village of Hölstein.
To fully understand the story of Oris, you have to go back to that day in 1904. Cattin and Christian had come from the French-speaking Le Locle in the Jura mountains, the beating heart of the traditional Swiss watch industry. Hölstein represented a completely different proposition. It was in Switzerland’s German-speaking north, 25 km from Basel, an industrial town that was experiencing economic hardship. They saw an opportunity.
Their vision was to build a watch company that brought together the best of both worlds. Could a mechanical watch be made using industrial techniques that stayed true to the romantic values of traditional horology?
Could man and machine combine to deliver beautiful watches at prices that hard-working citizens could afford?
The answers to these questions might seem obvious now, but at the beginning of the 20th century and with society’s shape rapidly changing, such a concept was visionary.
It also worked.
By 1910, Oris was the biggest employer in the region, and in the coming decades it would continue to grow at pace. By the 1960s, it was one of the 10 biggest watch companies in the world, employing almost 1,000 people and producing more than one million watches a year that were exported to all corners of the globe.
In the 1970s, the double impact of the global financial crisis and the evolution of quartz watches killed off vast swathes of the Swiss watch industry. Oris survived and by the early 1980s had secured its independence and its future. At its heart was the vision of its founders – to produce beautiful watches that celebrated mechanical watchmaking, industrial manufacturing and hand-craftsmanship. Watches that made sense in the real world.
In 2020, that vision makes more sense than ever before. No one needs a wristwatch, some argue. But even given the myriad alternative ways of telling the time, that’s only true to a point. A mechanical watch is also a thing of beauty, which as the great poet John Keats wrote, ‘is a joy forever’.
In these challenging times created by the Coronavirus crisis, we need that joy. A celebration of mechanical watchmaking isn’t a first priority, but it is a welcome distraction, a high point when the world is laid low.
The Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 is cast in solid bronze, including the bracelet (a first in Swiss watchmaking), an industrial material with intriguing characteristics that we hope will charm everyone who comes into contact with it. On top of that, the case back is embossed with the Oris Bear, for one simple reason – to make people smile!
‘The Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 is a celebration of Oris’s roots and the values we carry through into today and tomorrow,’ says Rolf Studer, Oris Co-CEO. ‘But we also wanted to give Oris fans and all watch enthusiasts something to cheer, something to make them smile.’
Time to celebrate
The Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 is named after the Swiss village where Oris has been based since 1904
We are extremely proud of our roots. Hölstein is the Oris heartbeat. Our factory has been on the same site in the village since 1904. Today, this is where our watchmakers, engineers and designers create watches. It’s also where our test and quality control centres are, and our distribution centre.
To celebrate the inseparable relationship between Oris and this beautiful Swiss village, we’ve created the Oris Hölstein Edition 2020, a bronze version of the Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph.
It’s inspired by the funky, quirky designs of the 1960s, when Oris made its first diver’s watch and started a tradition that continues today. Its case, bezel, bezel insert, crown and pushers are all cast in solid bronze.
So too is the bracelet, which is made of solid bronze links, each of which will acquire a natural patina as the bronze oxidises. As with the bronze dial on the Oris Big Crown Bronze Pointer Date, this is a first not just for Oris, but also for Swiss watchmaking.
Achieving it wasn’t easy. Bronze is a soft, natural material, and proved insufficiently strong to be used for the pins that hold the links together, or for the folding clasp. These, together with the watch’s case back, are made of high-grade stainless steel.
The case back is embossed with the Oris Bear. In recent years, the bear has become a symbol of the Oris spirit – warm and honest. And it just makes you smile.
The Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 is the first in a series of watches that will pay tribute to this magical village we call home.
James Gruntz, Swiss musician, artist and friend of Oris has just composed a song for the brand
A few years ago, James Gruntz was playing at a Basel jazz festival when he caught the ear of company Co-CEO Rolf Studer. ‘When James came on, he was more than entertaining, he was art,’ says Rolf. ‘I met him afterwards and we formed a strong bond.’
In the time since, James has performed at a number of Oris events and he now has a collection of Oris watches.
To coincide with the launch of the Oris Hölstein Edition 2020, James has composed an original track called ‘1904’, inspired by the year the company was founded.
‘I love Oris’s joyful, independent spirit,’ says James. ‘There’s a maverick quality to the brand, which really resonated with me. I wanted the song to have this powerful, warm melody that embodies that spirit.’
Smiling from the front
Rolf Studer began working at Oris 14 years ago. Now the company’s Co-CEO, he explains the thinking behind the Oris Hölstein Edition 2020
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m Rolf and I’m the Co-CEO of Oris with Claudine Gertiser-Herzog. I joined Oris in 2006, and 14 years later, I can honestly say I’ve not had one boring day here. I’m very proud and honoured to serve the Oris brand – I think of it as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
What’s the idea behind the Oris Hölstein Edition 2020?
First, it’s a celebration of Hölstein and this company’s values. It’s also a tribute to people who love the Oris brand and who love mechanical watches. We really wanted to put a smile on people’s faces with this watch.
What exactly are those company values?
We make watches for the citoyen. I hope that doesn’t sound pretentious. We make serious mechanical watches for people who work hard for their money, who play their part in building strong communities, and who appreciate quality and beauty. That’s the rational side. The emotional side is that we want to bring people joy. That’s been Oris since day one.
How does this watch express that?
We thought about doing a special movement, or playing with new materials, or even doing something colourful. But in the end, we decided what connects us to this place and to watch enthusiasts around the world is joy. So we did something quirky, something unexpected – who else puts a bear on the back of a luxury watch made of solid bronze?
Bronze is a natural material and as it oxidises it patinates. Is this a problem?
I don’t think so. We’ve been working with bronze for years and our customers know what bronze is and will be aware that if they have a bronze watch, they may get oxidisation on their skin. But then you have a shower and its gone again. It’s part of the charm, and I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.
Why celebrate Hölstein?
Just as a person is defined by where they come from, it’s the same for a brand. We are from Hölstein, a remote place away from the centre of the watch industry. This part of Switzerland is more about rigour than romance. Being in Hölstein has defined us and made us the maverick that we are.
And why put a bear on a watch?
How can you be mad at a bear? He’s a canvas for any kind of emotion. All of us had a teddy bear when we were kids and it was a mirror for our emotions. People buy watches because they cheer us up. Our job is to give people a happy moment in their hectic day.
Oris Hölstein Edition 2020
This limited-edition version of the iconic Oris Divers Sixty-Five is cast in solid bronze and is the first Swiss Made watch with a solid bronze bracelet
Reference 01 771 7744 3182-Set
- Multi-piece bronze case, uni-directional rotating bronze bezel with bronze insert
- Size 43.00 mm, (1.693 inches)
- Gold-plated with black chronograph counters, rose gold-plated indices
- Luminous material Hands and indices with Super-LumiNova®
- Top glass Domed sapphire with anti-reflective coating inside
- Stainless steel, screwed, special engravings of the Oris Bear
- Bronze screw-in security crown and pushers
- Multi-piece bronze bracelet with folding clasp
- 10 bar (100 m)
- Oris 771
- Centre hands for hours, minutes and chronograph ¼ seconds,
- two subsidiary dials with continuous seconds at 9 o’clock and a chronograph 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock,
- fine timing device and stop-second
- 48 hours
- 250 pieces,
- available through Oris boutiques, the Oris e-Shop, and retailers with access to the Oris e-shop.
- Online tool to choose your limited edition number.
Swiss retail price CHF 4,800 / 4,600 €
Available June 2020