The history of aviation, aeronautical discoveries and the fascination with the sky world constantly accompany numerous watch brands in the creation and design of pilot watches. Some might be tempted to say that if it weren't for aviation, the Swiss watch industry wouldn't exist at all, or it would take several more years to get it off the ground. How has one of the world's leading Swiss-made manufacturers, Oris, made its mark in the aviation world?
The beginning of the 20th century is the moment in history when pocket watches started to fail during work duties. Although each pilot had a pocket watch (it used to be their important basic equipment), their operation seemed to be too cumbersome when flying planes.
It was then that a young and rapidly growing Oris company from the town of Hölstein came to the rescue of pilots. The brand began producing the first watches for aviation pioneers as early as in 1910. They were supposed to be functional, reliable and ultra-precise. To this day, the archives of the Swiss brand preserve catalogues from that time presenting pocket watches with cases decorated with aircraft in the Blériot style.
Owing to the company's renowned designers and highly skilled watchmakers, the intended result was finally achieved. In 1917, after many years of hard work, Oris developed the first wristwatch for pilots. Less than 20 years later, the brand also released the first innovative model from its flagship Big Crown line - a watch with an enlarged crown designed to be operated with flight gloves. Just in time, you might say, as the outbreak of World War II increased the demand for practical, comfortable and extremely precise watches for pilots.
For over 100 years, the independent company from Hölstein has constantly strived to create better, more reliable and more technologically advanced watches. Oris watches are created out of love, not only for the traditional art of watchmaking, but also for the world of air navigation. Strictly connected to the development of aviation and the heritage of Switzerland, Oris watches impress with above-average performance of their Swiss made movements. Their operating standards are comparable to COSC-certified chronographs.
Over the decades, millions of people, world-leading organisations, including those from the aviation industry, as well as military units have put their trust in the Swiss manufacturer. Thanks to these partnerships, it has been possible for the Oris brand to create perfect watches for pilots, rescuers and other uniformed services. The brand has introduced such innovations for pilots as the altimeter and the Worldtimer with buttons that move the hour hand forward and backward in one-hour increments.
Imagine that you want to do something more in life, help people and support those who have been left alone. You look at a map and choose Africa. And that is where you want to take your next steps. You want to change the world and you have the strength to do so. Looking at a vast area, with its huge geographic and demographic diversity, how would you ever decide where to go?
This was the question Christian Gross and Dr Misha S. Kruck answered for themselves in March 2011 when they founded the aeromedical rescue organisation Okavango Air Rescue (O.A.R.). The couple decided to make a difference in Southern Africa. They took action in remote areas of Botswana (the size of this area is comparable to the combined area of France and Belgium) and the Okavango Delta, including the town of Maun (the size of Switzerland). The inspiration for the foundation came from REGA, the Swiss air rescue service. Like REGA, O.A.R. provides medical care to people in need of urgent medical care, who live in remote and inaccessible areas. You can only get there by air.
That's when the Okavango Air Rescue team steps in, made up of qualified doctors, pilots, nurses, paramedics and administrative staff. They operate two Pilatus PC-12 fixed-wing aircraft and two Bell Jetranger 206 III helicopters.
So far, we have reached over 1 500 patients in critical condition who urgently needed medical assistance. Over 20,000 patients have been treated in our polyclinic. Before O.A.R. there was no local medical service, no air support and no quality clinic.Dr Misha S. Kruck, www.oris.ch
Building awareness of poor medical care in the hard-to-reach and vast areas of many African countries, the desire to help, love for Switzerland's watchmaking heritage and the inspiration of pure nature - this is how the successful partnership between the aeromedical rescue organisation Okavango Air Rescue and the Swiss manufacture Oris could be briefly summarised. To celebrate the partnership and the 10th anniversary of the foundation, Oris released an extraordinary limited collection - the ProPilot Okavango Air Rescue Limited Edition 01 751 7761 4187-Set (limited to 2011 pieces). The watch refers not only to traditional aviation watches, but also to the the activities undertaken by O.A.R. and the Okavango Delta.
The green dial of the ProPilot Okavango Air Rescue Limited Edition is inspired by nature and the grasslands of the Okavango Delta. The watch comes with an exclusive green fabric strap created by Erika’s Originals. The Okavango Air Rescue’s logo engraved on the steel case back adds a touch of prestige. This limited watch also comes with: an additional brown leather strap, a leather travel pouch, a special box and a certificate.
The Big Crown has been dominating the airspace since 1938. It’s a true gem among the other Oris collections and an icon of Swiss watchmaking. The design of the Big Crown Pointer Date collection is a true heritage of the brand, recalling the groundbreaking introduction of an enlarged crown and a crescent-tipped pointer date hand.
The unconventional design revolutionised the world of aviation and pilot watches. As previously mentioned, pilots opted for Oris Big Crown watches because they could be operated comfortably with leather gloves. In other words, Oris Big Crown watches were chosen because they could be operated by gloved airmen.
With this spirit in mind, the Swiss company took on another challenge. The brand created an exceptional watch in bronze - Big Crown Pointer Date Bronze 01 754 7741 3167-07 8 20 01. An enlarged crown, a beautifully fluted bezel and a red crescent-tipped pointer date hand are synonymous with traditional airmen’s values and the signature of Oris.
The brand continues to surprise us with every new model. This time Oris impressed us with a new material used in the production of the Big Crown model - bronze. The brand released a watch in full bronze, with a solid bronze case, bezel, crown and articulated bracelet with a butterfly clasp. The design is complemented by a green dial with characteristic elements for pilot's watches. The watch is equipped with the automatic calibre 754, which can be observed through the transparent case back.
Why bronze? There are several reasons behind this. First, this is an important reference to the roots of the independent brand, its origins in 1904, its industrial character and its natural surroundings - the Swiss town of Hölstein. Just like bronze changes and becomes patina with time, Oris continues to create its individual and innovative approach to watch production. Second, bronze is more malleable than steel and highly resistant to corrosion and abrasion. Additionally, the patination process never occurs in the same way, which makes Big Crown Pointer Date 01 754 7741 3167-07 8 20 01 a truly unique watch.
Looking at another new Oris watch – ProPilot X Calibre 400 01 400 7778 7158-07 7 20 01 TLC, it’s impossible not to smile. Why? Thanks to the combination of the bright salmon dial with the aviation style (primarily associated with muted shades). This was the intended purpose of Oris designers - they wanted to brighten up a gloomy mood and grey world with fun and vibrant colours.
Such a solution is also a new beginning of the brand's history that opens a period of further breakthroughs in line with modern technologies. The ProPilot X Calibre 400 isn’t only a follow-up to the Oris collection of aviation watches, but also a fresh perspective on specialist watchmaking. The watch is made in such a way that you can enjoy reliable mechanical components, as well as a solid and lightweight design enhanced with bright colours.
Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 01 400 7778 7158-07 7 20 01 TLC is distinguished by its salmon dial and titanium case. The shape of the case and the sharp lines refer to the history of aviation going back more than 100 years. The raw look is emphasised by the satin and sandblasted finish. The watch is completed by a fluted bezel and a link bracelet in titanium. What’s typical for the ProPilot collection is undoubtedly a high water resistance rating of 100 metres, an enlarged crown, a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating inside and luminous hands and stick indices coated with Super-LumiNova.
But there is something else that makes Oris ProPilot X one of the best Oris watches - the Calibre 400, an in-house automatic movement. This mechanism is a true masterpiece of watchmaking art combining traditional craftsmanship with highly advanced technologies.
The skilled engineers of the Oris brand have developed a top Swiss made automatic movement of incredible design. The movement boasts anti-magnetic properties, a more stable rotor system, a five-day (120 hour) power reserve and a 10-year warranty.
These non-standard developments were primarily intended to eliminate problems associated with a short power reserve, the effects of negative magnetic fields or imprecise timekeeping. It was difficult but not impossible to achieve. To make all this possible, the calibre 400 was additionally subjected to a series of rigorous tests. What’s the result? The movement exceeds the strict standards set by the Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).
So, what do you say? Will you trust the latest innovations, ultra precise timekeeping and robust design? Play with colours and discover the bright side of Oris ProPilot X Calibre 400 aviation watches!
Got inspired by the world of Swiss watches and the aviation history of the Oris brand? Want to help and support the work of Okavango Air Rescue? Discover the remarkable Oris collections designed for pilots, divers, sportsmen, watch collectors and horology enthusiasts. Check out the wide range of exclusive premium Oris watches and enjoy their top performance. You can order them online or get them in our Warsaw shops.