Oris marks its 117th Birthday with Hölstein Edition

This year’s 250-piece Hölstein Edition is based on the iconic Big Crown and becomes the first watch powered by Oris Calibre 403

More than a watch

No one ‘needs’ a mechanical watch. We all know this. But the joy of a beautifully designed, hand-crafted wristwatch with a mechanical heartbeat still makes us smile

When any of us thinks about our work, whether we’re in tech, finance, media,

academia or even Swiss watchmaking, at some point we ask why we do it. Of course, there are practical reasons. To earn a living and provide for others and ourselves, for example. But there are also emotional reasons. If we’re lucky, we do what we do because we love it. And if we’re even luckier, we do it because other people love it, too.

We’re lucky. We love what we do. And we’re even luckier, because people all over the world love what we do, too. We know none of them ‘needs’ an Oris watch. Luxury mechanical watches are by definition objects beyond what keeps us alive and well, and there are of course more accessible electronic alternatives. But that’s really got nothing to do with why we’re here.

Because what we do brings joy. It makes people smile. Thomas Merton, author of No Man Is An Island, wrote this: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” A watch can orientate us, give us structure and help us make sense of time, but it also encourages us to enjoy a moment of reverie, simply soaking up its beauty and its mechanical brilliance.

With that comes responsibility. We feel we have a duty to make watches that make people smile. It’s a duty we relish. We’ve been fulfilling it for 117 years and we have every intention to continue doing so.

On 1 June, the anniversary of our founding date, we’re introducing the Hölstein Edition 2021, a piece based on our signature Big Crown design. It comes with a simple mission: to make people smile.

Think of it as a birthday gift. A very special watch, carefully conceived to tell the Oris story that people love, limited in production and created for people who love Oris and find joy in mechanical watchmaking.

It’s more than a watch. It’s a symbol of love.

“A mechanical watch encourages us to enjoy a moment of reverie, to soak up its beauty and brilliance”

A new edition

The Hölstein Edition 2021 is based on the Big Crown and powered by Oris Calibre 403

On 1 June, Oris introduces the Hölstein Edition 2021, a 250-piece limited-edition version of the Big Crown pilot’s watch. The watch, which has a 38mm stainless steel case is the first watch to house the in-house developed Oris Calibre 403, a new automatic from our ground-breaking Calibre 400 Series.

The Big Crown is Oris’s signature design. It’s been in the collection, in constant production, since 1938 when it was introduced as a tool for gloved airmen. It was named after its oversized crown, and designed to be easy to operate during flight.

It’s stand-out function was a pointer date, a central hand that pointed to a date scale running round the edge of the dial.

The Hölstein Edition 2021 brings this story up to date with a special case inspired by the pre-war original. For this model, we’ve stripped back the fluted bezel and domed crystal; in their place are a flat bezel and sharper, crisper lines. The grey palette reflects the industrial methods Oris pioneered in the first half of the 20th century, while the newly developed numerals are based on references from the Oris archive.

Inside it is Oris Calibre 403, which shares the same base architecture and same high performance as our in-house Calibre 400 automatic – a five-day power reserve, elevated levels of anti-magnetism and a 10-year warranty. Added to these features are a small seconds at 6 o’clock and the famous pointer date function. It’s a classleading movement created for the modern world, telling a much-loved story.

It’s also the first 38mm Big Crown this century, and each piece has the Oris Bear on the case back with its limited-edition number.

“Being in Hölstein has shaped us and made us go our own way, offering a fresh perspective on watchmaking”

No place like home

Oris Co-CEO Rolf Studer has been with the company for 15 years and has been shaped by Hölstein, just like Oris. And just like the new watch that proudly bears its name

Rolf, tell us about your role with Oris

I joined Oris in 2006. In 2016, I was invited to be Co-CEO with my great colleague Claudine Gertiser-Herzog under our chairman, Ulrich W. Herzog. UIrich saved this company 40 years ago and it was a huge honour to be asked to help tell the next chapter in the story of this special independent Swiss watchmaker.

What’s the thinking behind the Hölstein Edition concept, launched last year?

The original idea was to create a special watch, like a boutique edition, but one that anyone could get hold of. We also wanted a platform to explain our watchmaking philosophy. It’s a bit like a concept car, except you can actually own it and wear it.

And what is that philosophy?

It’s pretty simple. We want to make people smile. To give them something to feel joyful about. I think that was always in our watches, but because of the pandemic it felt more relevant than ever to express it more clearly. The first Hölstein Edition was released during the first wave of the pandemic.

How was it received?

The first one was a really special watch because it was the first Swiss mechanical watch with a bronze case, crown and bracelet. No one had done that before and we only made 250 of them. We hoped it would make people smile, and it did. It sold out very quickly.

How has being in Hölstein shaped Oris?

Just as a person is shaped by their origins, so a brand is shaped by its origins too. Hölstein is in the Waldenburg Valley in the Jura mountains, away from the centre of Swiss watchmaking. That has shaped us, and made us go our own way. That’s not always been easy, but we’re glad that today’s consumers appreciate we have walked that path for 117 years and still do, offering a fresh perspective on Swiss mechanical watchmaking.

Why choose the Big Crown this year?

The Big Crown is our most traditional design and dates back to the 1930s. It’s an Oris watch in its truest sense – functional, useful and beautiful. It can be anything, too – a dress watch, a sports watch, an everyday watch. That’s important to us. Our watches are companions for life. When people close their eyes and think of Oris, they almost certainly think of the Big Crown. So it’s us. It’s the core of who we are.

The watch has some significant design tweaks, and a special movement. Why did you decide to evolve the form?

We had two complementary ideas. First, we wanted to remember where the Big Crown came from and to tell the story of its time and place in a contemporary way. And second, we wanted to show our constant push to do things better. Calibre 403 is the modern retelling of our signature complication, which is an exciting moment for us. So it has the pointer date function, but it’s also a modern automatic with a fiveday power reserve, elevated anti-magnetism, better than chronometer accuracy, and a 10-year warranty and recommended service. It’s the Oris story in one watch.

What does it say about Oris’s ongoing movement creation programme?

We have three pillars when it comes to movements – our in-house Calibre 100 Series of hand-wound calibres; then the new Calibre 400 Series of in-house automatics; and finally high-quality movements supplied by our longterm Swiss partners Sellita. We have now introduced nine in-house calibres since 2014. And we’re not done yet.

The Oris Bear is back again. Why?

During the first wave of the pandemic, the Oris Bear was the star of our Local Heroes Campaign. It brought our message across, and showed empathy and cheerfulness in a time when there was little to be cheerful about. Today, we’re using it more and more to show that what we do comes from the heart. It also shows that we take watchmaking seriously, but not ourselves.

Why are you only making 250 pieces?

The Hölstein Editions should always be special, something that’s cherished and rare. They’re a birthday gift after all.

It’s being released on 1 June, Oris’s 117th birthday. What are you doing to celebrate?

I’ll have an Oris Beer and give the Oris Bear a birthday cake. Which I’ll probably eat myself. But mostly, I’ll enjoy seeing the Hölstein Edition 2021 being launched.

“Calibre 403 is the modern retelling of our signature complication. It’s an exciting moment for us”

For all time

The joy of mechanical watchmaking has motivated Oris for more than a century. Today, we celebrate the past with technologies designed for the future.

Hölstein Edition 2021

The first 38mm Big Crown this century has a flat bezel and newly developed numerals, and is powered by the new Oris Calibre 403 pointer date automatic

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