Today, Oris celebrates its 119th birthday. With the occasion, the brand launched a 250-limited edition in the Aquis Collection inspired by the Oris community, the Hölstein Edition 2023. Rolf Studer, Oris Co-CEO, shares some words with the brand’s fans and collectors.
Rolf, this is the fourth Hölstein Edition. Tell us why you make these characterful watches…
It started a few years back when we were thinking about how we could make special watches for our boutique customers, but in such a way that the watches felt inclusive. There’s something exclusive about the term “boutique edition” that we didn’t like. It’s not who we are. So we came up with this idea of creating a shortrun edition, a watch that we wouldn’t otherwise have made and releasing it on 1 June, which is the anniversary of our founding date.
Would you say the idea has been a success?
Yes, absolutely. Clearly, the Hölstein Editions aren’t conventionally commercial. They’re more conceptual, left-field pieces that Oris fans and collectors are likely to be interested in. These watches are for everyone, but experience tells us they’re more likely to be enjoyed by people who really love Oris, who know and appreciate our story and who are inspired by our values. Honestly, in a business sense, these watches don’t move the needle. But that’s fine. We only make 250 of them and in a way, they’re our gift to our fans. These watches won’t be repeated.
You say conceptual: this year’s Hölstein Edition is a steel Aquis, a familiar, simple design and not really a concept. Is that fair?
Yes, that’s fair – and very deliberate! The first three Hölstein Editions were all quite highconcept, especially last year’s which was based on the Full Steel of the late 1990s. That was a passion project for us because it recalled a special chapter in recent history, the last preconnected decade, and one that has become fashionable again. By comparison, yes, the Hölstein Edition 2023 is a simpler execution of the idea, and places the focus more squarely on the passions and desires of the Oris community.
How does this reflect the Oris community?
We’re fortunate to have a very active global community. You can see that from the interaction we get on social, and even more so from the thriving Oris Social Club network. We have more than 30 OSC chapters around the world now, each run by local Oris fans. They talk to us and tell us what they think of our watches and our collaborations. They also ask good questions. Why have we not done a no-date Aquis? When are we going to do a purple-dialled watch? These inspired the Hölstein Edition 2023, which is what makes it a watch for our community.
Concepts and one-off designs often point to things to come. Should we expect to see a non-limited no-date Aquis or purple dials in the core collection soon?
The Hölstein Editions aren’t meant to signal our future direction, although yes, our Calibre 403 debuted in the 2021 edition. They’re a celebration, created to bring joy, make people smile and give something back to the community that gives the Oris story so much oxygen. A nodate Aquis? Why not? But that’s not how we think about these watches. We haven’t released a core collection Full Steel, for example.
So what should we take from it?
I don’t want to overthink this, because we’re trying to make products that are lighter than heavier. There’s plenty that weighs today. A Swiss Made mechanical watch is a light, joyful thing. But I guess you could say the Hölstein Edition 2023 is a symbol of inclusive luxury. Inclusive luxury is about not creating negative emotions, such as envy, but about positive emotions, focusing on what we’ve got and sharing good moments with others. I don’t want to sound too serious. We take watchmaking seriously and we’re proud to do great work that people love, but we wear it lightly. Have fun. Enjoy life. That’s who we are. And that’s the Hölstein Edition 2023.