Oris takes the plunge with a very special limited edition dive watch. Exclusive to Watches Of Switzerland, the Oris Aquis Diver Exclusive offers a high-spec diver’s watch, without the need for deep pockets.
I was in Switzerland recently for the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the annual industry prize-giving often labelled the ‘Oscars of watchmaking’, a suggestion that becomes more reasonable with each passing year.
I was a member of the jury, a 30-strong body invited to judge a long list of categories and an even longer list of watches, many of which now escape me, owing to what I hope will be a temporary bout of watch blindness.
I do however recall that among those categories there was no space for one devoted to sports watches, which to me seemed an omission, given the ubiquity of the style and its continued importance to the market.
It was put to me the reason for this was that between the men’s and diver’s watch categories, sports watches were covered, the implication being that all such designs are in some way generic and therefore not interesting enough to be worthy of individual judgement.
I don’t agree. While a men’s watch could be just about anything – not least if we’re pushing the gender neutral watch design theory – and a sports watch has a sort of everyday insouciance about it, a diver’s watch is a very specific thing indeed, and not really a sports watch at all.
The point here isn’t really to ask that sports watches be recognised by the GPHG, but to identify the distinct charms of a diver’s watch, and on this occasion of the Oris Aquis Diver Exclusive, a limited-edition version of the Swiss watch company’s Aquis Date made only for The Watches of Switzerland Group and its associated outlets.
We’ll come to those charms, but first a word on Oris. Quietly for a time, and then recently with a little more gusto, Oris has been stealing into the hearts and minds of those interested in watches.
Independent in every sense of the word, it is an outlier by Swiss standards, based in the country’s industrial north-east, a long way from the maisons of Geneva and the French-speaking Swiss Jura. Indeed, the two schools don’t even speak the same language. Oris’s mother tongue is Swiss-German.
Its mantra, although I don’t imagine it saying so in such a way, would be something like ‘very good watches at very good prices’. A clunky definition, yes, but then being reasonably priced is a hard thing to credit a luxury brand for. Hopefully, you get the point.
The Oris Aquis Diver Exclusive becomes a good case study. Top-line specs include a 41.5mm stainless steel case coated in black DLC; a black dial with high-contrast, lume-filled hands and hour markers; a uni-directional rotating bezel with a ceramic inlay for securely measuring dive times; and water resistance to 300 meters.
It also has a bullet-proof mechanical movement: not a high-flying complication, but a tried-and-tested version of Sellita’s SW 200 automatic, one of the industry’s most dependable power units. So far, so solid.
Then it’s about elevation by detail. The crown is screw-in, and there are protectors either side of it in the event it takes a knock. The rubber strap is fitted with a superbly engineered folding clasp that can be adjusted to fit over a wetsuit. And you’ll barely notice it, but the male end of the strap has two slots cut into it at one end that hook over pins that stop the watch coming off, even if the clasp fails. That’s not at all an industry norm. But it is rather Oris.
Anything else? Well, there’s a date window if you need it, and this model has The Watches of Switzerland Group logo engraved into the case back, as well as notification of its limitation – in this case, one from 100.
And for this numbered iteration of a high-spec diver’s watch? Oris asks £1,850. As I said. A very good watch at a very good price.