Chronicles of the Oris Watch

March 20, 2021

An Oris watch is an element created which will last and offers a life of pleasure. Manufacturing industrial watches have been in the Oris’s bones, and craftsmanship has been in Oris souls since 1904. Mechanical watches often match the creed of Oris: “Things must make sense.” The quality of the work that the company puts into its watches still lives on. Defining their own path is what Oris often believes, rather than following others.

A mechanical timepiece is something of magnificence that has been composed for generations and will continue for the foreseeable future. Oris wristwatches are Swiss Made and performance operated all throughout the production process to the greatest degree. Oris strives continually to generate good watches, offering lovely, innovative features and specialized standards of achievement. It is an independent company that guarantees its values. Here in this article is the history of the Oris watch.

Inception and Expansion

The story of Oris watch began when Oris was formed in the Swiss town of Hölstein by Paul Cattin and Georges Christian where they bought the Lohner & Co watch factory that was recently closed. The two men made an agreement with the local mayor on 1 June 1904. After a nearby brook, they named Oris, which was their new watch company, and started producing pocket watches. Oris hired 67 people in its foundational year.


In the nearby town of Holderbank, the company established the assembly plant and the second facility in 1906. In 1908, there was another production facility in Como. Oris with over 300 employees, became one of the biggest employers in Hölstein by 1911. It built homes and apartments for its staff to attract more watchmakers. In 1916, it has an expanded factory in Courtenay, while another was added in the municipalities of Herbetswil and Ziefen in 1925.

Principal Oris Watch

After establishing a factory in Ziefen and an electroplating plant in Herbetswill, Oris starts fitting strap buckles on its pocket watches, turning them into complete wristwatches. Co-founder Georges Christian died in 1927 and Jacques-David LeCoultre became the Board of Directors President. LeCoultre was the grandson of Antoine LeCoultre, the man who formed Jaeger-LeCoultre by integrating with Edmond Jaeger in 1937. After Christian’s death one year earlier, Oscar Herzog, the brother-in-law of Christian, assumed as general manager for 43 years.

Signature Pilot’s Watch

Oris established its very own dial factory in Biel/Bienne in 1936. At that time, nearly all its watch and clock products were in-house manufactured by the company. In 1938, Oris presented the so-called Big Crown, which is the signature pilot’s watch of the company. The name of the collection is derived from the over-dimensional crown of the watch, used to help pilots who modify their timepieces with gloves made of leather.

Principal Alarm Clocks

The distribution network of Oris outside Switzerland was significantly reduced during the Second World War. They began producing alarm clocks to keep business afloat. The company expanded further with the end of the war.

Swiss Watch Statute

The aspirations of Oscar Herzog for better quality products in his company are being hampered when, on 12 March 1934, the Government of Switzerland launched the so-called “Watch Statute”, a special law intended to protect and enforce regulations, preventing the development of new technologies without approval by watch companies. Until then, it had taken pin-lever pendulum motion (Roskopf escapement), which was told to be less precise than the lever escapements being used by some Oris competitors.

In 1952, Oris introduced its first automatic watch with an indicator power reserve powered by the very precise caliber 601 of Oris. Oscar Herzog hired Dr. Rolf Portmann, a young lawyer, in 1956. Rolf has invested his first 10 years voting to alter the so-called ‘watch statute’ preventing Oris’s watch movements from using lever escapements. He succeeded in 1966 and has earned his place in the history of Swiss watches. The Watch Statute was liberalized gradually until its abolishment in 1971.

Quartz Crisis

A total of 44% of all watches sold worldwide were from Switzerland by the end of the 1960s. In Hölstein and beyond, Oris hired 800 people, producing 1.2 million watches and clocks a year, making it one of the top ten watch companies in the world. The company even had their apprenticeship scheme run training 40 professionals and watchmakers each year and had their own equipment and machine.

But the turning point came then. Quartz watches from Asia gained an enormous share of the market in the 1970s and early 1980s. The Quartz Crisis meant closure for approximately 900 Swiss watch companies and unemployment for two-thirds of watchmaking employees. The market share of Swiss manufacturers fell to 13% globally.

Oris abandoned its sovereignty in 1970 and then became part of the Swatch Group’s former leader Allgemeine Schweizer Uhren Industrie AG (ASUAG). The brand also started producing quartz watches, but this didn’t reestablish success. Oris had only a few dozen employees in the early 1980s. In 1981, its own movements were discontinued.

New Beginnings

Oris was on the brink of the shutdown like many Swiss watchmakers in the early 1980s. The rest of the company was taken over in 1982 by Dr. Rolf Portmann and Ulrich W. Herzog, Head of Marketing, in an executive buy-out. Shortly after, the recently created and free Oris SA abolished quartz and produced mid-priced mechanical watches. In the early 1990s, Oris made its last quartz watch.

Latest Developments

Oris has been focusing on the motorsport, diving, aviation, and culture world since the turn of the millennium. The Red Rotor has been the trademark and distinctive feature of Oris since 2002. The Quick-Lock Crown system was established in 2004. Oris exposed a Rotation Safety System in 2009, enabling the installation of an accidental adjustable unidirectional rotating bezel of the diving watch. In 2013, Oris patented its first mechanical depth indicator, the Oris Aquis Depth Gauge. In 2014, with its first home-grown caliber for 35 years, Oris celebrated 110 years of watch production. Caliber 110 was a manual movement with a patented non-linear power reserve indicator and a power reserve of up to 10 days.

Takeaway

Despite the trials Oris has faced in the early days, it is just so motivational to see them achieving a lot of success now that can be seen on their authentic and promising watches.


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