Oris is a Swiss watch brand based at Holstein, Switzerland.

Founded in 1904, Oris has made countless breakthroughs in watch making history and achieved numerous milestones in its rich Swiss watch making tradition. Today, the brand manufactures high-quality Swiss made mechanical wristwatches under four categories : Diving, Aviation, Motorsports and Culture.

The Oris Headquarters in Hölstein, Switzerland

History of Oris Watches

The Early 1900s

In 1904 at Hölstein, Paul Cattin and Georges Christian established the Oris watch factory. Both came from the watch making capital Le Locle in the Swiss Jura region. Starting with just 24 workmen, they took over the closed down watch firm Lohner & Co.

Oris is the name of a brook and a valley close to Hölstein in the north- western part of Switzerland. In 1906 the first of ten branches in Switzerland were opened. In 1911, Oris watch company had employed over 300 people at Hölstein, build houses and flats for them and soon became the biggest employer in the area.

From 1925 on wards, with the opening of its own electroplating factory, the firm specialized in the production of comparatively inexpensive yet good quality watches.

The company began to fit simple bracelet buckles to its pocket watches, thereby transforming them into fully-fledged wristwatches. The Oris watches, equipped with pin-lever movements, found ready buyers, particularly in England and then all English colonies and increasingly also in South America.

The Malleray factory in 1945. Oris opened a number of facilities in the first half of the century to cater for its rapid growth.

Georges Christian died in 1927 and soon afterwards the firm became a public company. Oscar Herzog, brother-in-law of Georges Christian, became CEO and during the next 43 years continued the tradition of constant growth. Oscar Herzog, brother-in-law of the co-founder Georges Christian, managed Oris from 1928 to 1971.

A 1938 Oris Pointer Date, powered by Oris Calibre 373
A 1938 Oris Pointer Date, powered by Oris Calibre 373

In 1937, Oris opened a dial factory  Bienne, Switzerland. In 1938 as an integrated manufacturer Oris started to produce its own watch escapements.

An advert for an Oris alarm clock, published in 1942
An advert for an Oris alarm clock, published in 1942

In 1952 the technically outstanding movement 601 with automatic winding and power-reserve was launched.  In 1966 the world famous automatic movement cal. 645 with 25-jewel lever escapement went into production.

In 1968 the «Observatoire Astronomique et Chronométrique» in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, awarded Oris full chronometer certification – the highest distinction – for the accuracy.

The 1970s: Quartz Crisis

In 1970 the shares of Oris watch company were sold to the ASUAG Holding (now the Swatch Group), the biggest group of Swiss watch companies.

In the ASUAG, Oris was assigned a strictly defined niche as producer of inexpensive watches – not a very successful strategy. The crisis in the watch industry in the late seventies therefore hits Oris hard. Despite its production of increasingly cheap quartz watches, it was unable to avoid job losses and branch closures.

The Early 1980s: Revival

Ulrich W. Herzog joined Oris in 1978 at the height of the Quartz Crisis. In 1982, he took part in the management buy-out and successfully led the company in its repositioning as a purely mechanical watch manufacturer.

Ulrich W. Herzog and Dr Rolf Portmann
Ulrich W. Herzog (left) and Dr Rolf Portmann, shortly after they staged a management buy-out in 1982. Oris has been an independent company ever since.

In 1984 the Oris Pointer Calendar made a come back: the Japanese trendsetters favoured its characteristics and mechanical workings over the electronic gimmicks with LED and LCD displays they have been used to. Ulrich Herzog who regularly travelled to Japan, was surprised by the great interest and passion for mechanical watches the Japanese clients have.

A new business vision was born: Oris aimed to become the global leader in mechanical watches with special movements at competitive prices.

The 1990s: Birth of Jazz Watches

The complication movement cal. 581 was developed in 1991, with moonphase display, week day, date and a second time zone the movement is still highly prized in today’s collection. An important milestone in the Oris communications strategy is the first big sponsorship event in 1996:  the Oris London Jazz Festival.

The sponsorship marked the beginning of a strong emotional connection between Oris and Jazz. Well known artists such as Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Lionel Hampton, John McLaughlin, McCoy Tyner and Toots Thielemans were commemorated in exclusive, limited Oris editions launched every year.

In 1997 After 155 years of British Colonial rule, Hong Kong becomes a special administrative region of China. Oris commemorated this historic event by producing 250 Oris Hong Kong Commemorative Watches as a special edition.

Oris Worldtimer 1997
Oris  Worldtimer (1997), the world’s first watch capable of adjusting local time using plus and minus push buttons

In 1998 Oris invested ever more in the form of its watches, emphasizing its intention to become a leader of watch design. From then on, clear, up-to-date form defines the appearance of Oris watch and follow the design concept “form follows function”.

In 1999, with the automatic High-Mech timepiece BC3 a fresh face has emerged in the Big Crown crew – open and clear, with dynamic features. This is reflected in the design of the case, created by Oris and made of satin- finished stainless steel. Its simple design forms a perfect unity with both the flush-fit metal bracelet and the sporty rubber strap.

The 2000s: Partnerships with Motor-sports and Diving

In 2002 Oris associated itself with the Formula1 driver Allan McNish. In 2003 Oris signed an agreement to become the exclusive watch partner of the BMW Williams F1 Team.

To celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary in 2004, the Oris Centennial Set 1904 Limited Edition was launched.

In 2005 Oris extended its sponsorship engagement as an on-car sponsor and launched two new limited editions of the WilliamsF1 Team collection: The Oris Williams F1 Team Lefty Limited Edition and the Oris Mark Webber Limited Edition Chronograph.

In 2006 Oris sealed a partnership contract with world-record diver Carlos Coste. The free-diver from Venezuela, who regularly breaks records for apnea free-diving without oxygen equipment, becomes a champion of the Oris brand.

In 2007 Oris produced a limited edition watch collection consisting of only 1917 pieces in honour of Dizzy Gillespie, the Jazz legend.

In 2013, free diving champion Anna von Boetticher became the brand ambassador of Oris. Also, Oris entered into a three year partnership with Audi Sport for a global partnership in WEC and DTM.

In 2015, Oris opened a new boutique at the Oriental Plaza in Beijing.

On 9th September 2016, Oris ambassador Carlos Coste set a new world record for the longest horizontal distance swum in the ocean on one breath. Holding his breath for 3 minutes and 5 seconds, Carlos swam an astonishing 177 metres underwater, breaking his own Guinness World Record of 150 metres, set in 2010.

Oris opened its first boutique in Switzerland on December 12th, 2016 in cooperation with renowned jeweller Seiler. This ‘Maison Oris’ boutique is located at 22 Barfusserplatz in Basel.

2018: Rebranding

In 2018, Oris introduced a stylish re-branding to cement its place in contemporary watchmaking. The company’s new logo, claim and creative have been designed to highlight Oris’s spirit of innovation and independence, qualities that shine through its collection of industrially produced, beautifully crafted Swiss Made watches.

As well as being independent, Oris is also rare because its collection is 100 per cent mechanical. Since the management buyout in 1982, the company has been privately owned, mainly by the board members and the management.

In 1985, long before the recent mechanical watch trend took off, Oris used its independence to put its entire focus on manufacturing mechanical watches. Today, this strategy holds strong: Oris continues to make watches for people who ‘Go their own way’.

The Oris headquarters is located at Hölstein, Switzerland. Outside Switzerland, the company owns subsidiaries in Germany, Great Britain, France, Holland, Spain, Singapore, Malaysia, China, USA, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Mexico and Japan.

Contact details

Oris SA
Ribigasse 1
4434 Hölstein
Official website: http://www.oris.ch