On 1 June 1904, entrepreneurial duo Paul Cattin and Georges Christian signed a contract that would give the two watchmakers permission to run their own company. Taking inspiration from their local surrounds, they would name it after a creek in their region: Oris. While both Cattin and Christian hailed from the watchmaking heartland of Le Locle in the Jura Mountains, they instead set up shop in Hölstein – an industrial town in northern Switzerland that at the time was suffering economic hardship. By 1910, Oris was the largest employer in the region, and its growth continued for the following decades. In the 1960s, it was one of the 10 biggest watch companies in the world, employing 1,000 people and producing more than a million watches per year.
The watchmaker is paying tribute to its roots with a timepiece that combines serious timekeeping with a healthy dose of fun. The Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 is a bold new take on its Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph, presented in dazzling bronze, using the more unusual materials as a nod to its industrial past.
The case, bezel, crown and pushers, as well as each link of the bracelet, are all cast in solid bronze. As time passes, the bronze will acquire a natural patina as it oxidises, lending a unique and personal look to each timepiece. Crafting the watch was a tricky process due to the soft properties of the material, and with this in mind the pins that hold the links together, along with the folding clasp, are made of high-grade stainless steel.
In a playful twist, flip the watch over to reveal a beaming bear on the case back that can’t help but make you smile. Why? Simply because it can bring a flash of joy in times of chaos. ‘How can you be mad at a bear? He’s a canvas for any kind of emotion,’ explains Rolf Studer, Co-CEO of Oris. ‘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.’