Oris has chosen to celebrate its 116th anniversary and its place of birth with the Oris Hölstein Limited Edition Diver’s Sixty-Five for 2020. Offering the first all-bronze bracelet, this marks a milestone in Oris’ development of the vintage diver’s chronograph.
Let’s be honest, 2020 has been a truly dismal year. Whichever headlines you might be looking at, the social and economic sides of the news seem to only speak of woe which, we are assured, will endure long into the coming decade. However, in the face of overwhelming doom and gloom, Oris has chosen to launch a limited edition of 250 pieces to celebrate their home since 1904: Hölstein.
The more mathematical amongst you will already have realised that, based upon that date of establishment, Oris is celebrating its 116th anniversary. This is — let’s not deny it — a strange choice of year to celebrate yet, in that way which only Oris seems to be able to pull off, it seems a delightful occasion to celebrate the place where all started. After all, the very name ‘Oris’ was that of a nearby stream.
With its typical sense of humour, Oris recounts a story of squarely aiming for the working man’s market in its German-speaking area of Switzerland. However, for this limited edition of 250 pieces, Oris certainly hasn’t chosen a utilitarian route. Instead, Oris has chosen to create and all-bronze version of their popular Divers Sixty-Five chronograph with a unique bronze bracelet.
Where the case of this watch is concerned, it’s very much business as usual for a brand known to do more than experiment with bronze. The dimensions chosen for the Oris Hölstein Limited Edition are identical to the steel and bronze version of this diver’s chronograph with a 43mm diameter although the thickness has not been disclosed (it has been quoted as 1.693cm, but this is just the diameter in inches).
Similarly, the bezel, finish and construction remain unchanged: hardly a poor choice given the popularity and praise garnered by other variants. The real change appears in the use of materials as, whilst we have seen a bronze case used on such watches as the Oris Carl Brashear, Oris hasn’t previous produced a bronze bracelet.
A Bronze Bracelet
This is, I must report, no trick. The entirety of the bracelet (minus the elbow-joint and pins which needed the strength of steel) is constructed from the same malleable and reactive metal as the case for the ultimate nautical feel. Of course, the pros and cons of bronze watches have been discussed at length but there is an undeniable allure about the metal and the unique way in which it develops a patina.
Unsurprisingly, even when talking about a very limited watch which (for the time being) isn’t set for wider production, the problem of the nature of bronze as a bracelet does cause some concern. Whilst hardness is a moot point given the variation between alloys and Oris’ reluctance to speak on the subject, the reactivity of bronze it very well documented. Whilst a natural patina will protect the watch case from further damage, perspiration will provoke a reaction leaving green marks on the wearer’s skin. Whilst this appears to be harmless, it is something to bear in mind.
A more concerning issue is whether the natural patina will affect the articulation of the bracelet as it thickens. Of course, only time will give a definitive answer, yet the reports of stuck bronze bezels suggests the risk of such a problem. Even so, I have every confidence that Oris has considered this problem before putting the watch on sale.
Looking at the case back of the Oris Hölstein Limited Edition, this watch receives a very special embossed motif of a bear to symbolise the “warm and honest” spirit of Oris. Whilst I am certain that some will feel simply regard this as marketing jargon, I find it to be a very playful and perhaps even sweet way for a brand to celebrate the bond between the company and its customers. Notably, like all previous bronze watches from Oris, the caseback is stainless steel to avoid the aforementioned issues with direct contact between bronze and skin.
The Inner Workings
Inside this watch, the movement used is identical to that of the standard Diver’s Sixty-Five chronograph: an Oris 771 which is a re-branded Sellita SW500-1. This automatic chronograph is nothing to get particularly excited about though does give a nice, long 48-hour power reserve and the customary Oris red rotor.
On the dial, Oris have taken the general style of the their standard Diver’s Sixty-Five chronograph but now with a gold-plated finish to contrast the black subdials and rose-gold plated hands and indices. The result is very lustrous and highly appropriate for a celebration of the brand under a heavily-domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal.
As a package, this special edition will certainly excite Oris collectors as the first watch to offer a bronze bracelet. Also, for £3,750, Oris only ask for £150 over the Carl Brashear edition which strikes me as very reasonable for all the additional bronze included. Whether this is good value in a wider sense remains a matter of opinion since, whilst not given a chronograph, the Tudor Black Bay Bronze is over £600 cheaper for a superior timepiece in every conceivable way. Looking away from bronze, let’s also not forget the Doxa SUB 200 T. Graph which remains only marginally more costly.
In any case, if you want a watch bracelet with the unique appeal of bronze construction then look no further because Oris have you covered.
Availability: Available from June for CHF 4,800 / GBP 3,750 in 250 pieces
- Dimensions: 43mm
- Material: Bronze (Brushed & Polished)
- Crystal: Double-Domed Sapphire Crystal with Internal Anti-Reflective Coating
- Display: Super-LumiNova applied both hands and markers / Hours, minutes and seconds in addition to chronograph minutes and seconds / Gold-plated brushed dial & rose-gold plated hands / Unidirectional bronze bezel with luminous pip at 12
- Water Resistance: 100m / 330ft / 10 ATM
- Movement: Oris 771 (Sellita SW500-1): Time & chronograph / Automatic & manual winding / Cam-operated chronograph with lateral clutch / 4Hz, 28,800 vph, 8 ticks-per-second / 48-hour power reserve